It is said religion is the opium for the masses. In Lotos-eaters Tennyson writes the effect of the lotos:
” Eating the Lotos day by day,
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray;
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
To muse and brood and live again in memory,…”
Poetic fancy of the poet however does not connect with reality as we know today. This is not how religion is practised.
The Scripture teaches us God is Love; good moslems similarly declare their Allah is compassionate. In that case what is the problem? Somewhere along the line prophets and their sayings are interpreted to mean entirely false. Whether God of the Jews or Allah of moslems religion has become synonymous with hate. In short religion has become the Achilles heel of mankind.
Through human understanding what can we know of love of God; or what is mercy? At least reason ought to teach us to try our best as human beings to demonstrate what love and compassion would mean. Would it not? In what way we can show holiness by some rituals? In India those who practice Jainism cover their mouth lest they swallow some little flies by mistake while yawning. However little do they see the millions of bacteria that float in the water they drink. It is impossible to match holiness of divine Being or be perfect in observing injunctions of prophets with regards to our cleanliness and diet. For the simple reason in a world of acid rain and tainted earth with various chemicals all our idea of cleanliness come with margin of error.
In Jonathan Swift’s immortal tale the central character Gulliver is brought to the land of Brobdingnag. It is written that he was repelled by the women of that land. They were monstrous in size compared to him. Their faces when magnified so much skin pores seemed to his scrutiny as moon craters! Matter of size brought about this change naturally. If we were to see as an eagle our eyes would require the size of an orange. To sum view of our world is limited by our human-ness. As a result our sense of beauty is affected; so must our understanding. How noble or mean is your God?
When Prophet Moses gave the Children of Israel the law, was it his understanding or that of God at fault?
Under the Law it was an eye for eye, a tooth for tooth. Shall we say under the Old Covenant the law represented a certain values but it was codified according to human understanding? It is of this St Paul writes to the Hebrews thus: ‘For the law made nothing perfect…(He.7:19) Instead It erected a screen between God and them. For instance during the Feast the Jews mistook the voice from heaven as thunder. (Jn.12:29) The Jewish nation lived by the law for a millennia or so and yet when God spoke, ‘I have both glorified it (name) and will glorify it again (vs.28)’ they understood it altogether in another sense.
Moses gave the law but with Jesus came the New Covenant. For Christians this New order supercedes the Old. Jesus brought grace and truth(Jn.1:17). When Jesus came to save the world he had a clear mandate. It went thus: turn the other cheek if one smites on your right cheek. He showed it in practice as well. Luke 9:51-56
Before he was to be crucified he wanted to visit Samaria. He sent an advance party to make arrangements and the people of Samaria refused them. When they told Jesus of their refusal John and James were furious and would have brought fire from heaven as Elias did. Jesus rebuked them saying, ‘they did not know what manner spirit they were of’. He did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. Jesus quietly led them to another village.
When I hear fellows casually use ‘Jihad’ to justify their criminal actions and mask foolish notion of global domination I can only say, their understanding is far off the mark. If they are misled, how much more foolish are their imams who preach hatred and violence as though it were a religious duty?