Has faith been boiled down into tenets that mostly make us feel good about ourselves? Or, to put it another way, has modern religion lost its ability to make us feel uncomfortable about parts of our lives?
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Has modern religion lost its bite?
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas
Indeed, the modern religion is reduced to a ritual to be performed as a social obligation to get it over with, rather than what it ought to do to you personally. It is particularly dumped on children as a duty to be fulfilled. The story is similar in most religions, given the space limitations; I will keep it to the Islamic month of Ramadan.
As a part of developing the model for Pluralism in Islam, I am visiting every denominational mosque since Ramadan began ten days ago for the whole month ending on August 18th or 19th depending on the moon sighting. It is everything you wanted to know about Ramadan and more; its politics, spirituality and traditions at RamdanDaily.com. One will appreciate the uniqueness of each of its traditions.
Dr. Allama Iqbal, a great philosopher and a poet wrote a poem in Urdu language, and one of the most famous lines goes as follows; “Tera dil to hay sanam aashna, tujhay kia milay ga namaz main. ” Broadly translated, you heart is elsewhere, and so what do you get out of praying or fasting?
What do the Salat (ritual prayers) and fasting do to you, and what is the cumulative effect on you? If it does not bring Taqwa, the spirituality and humility in you, then you have merely performed the ritual without being affected by it.|
Taqwa has many dimensions, one of them is humility, the essence of which is feeling, talking and acting equal with your employee, spouse, family and other members of the society, Muslim or not. How do we measure up?
Arrogance is the mother of all conflicts, whereas humility is the solution to most of them. When you bow, kneel or prostrate at your place of worship, it is an acknowledgement of the invisible superior being, and equality of fellow beings.
Has your religion lost its bite? Look at the ritual practices in your own, most people get it right, a few don’t.
To a few, religion is a powerful tool to manipulate others, or pushing their beliefs onto others. To some it is a social need to keep their status as a church going “honest” family, and some feel sanctimonious when performing the rituals in a Church, Temple, Synagogue, Gurudwara or a Mosque. When they step out of the sanctuary, the arrogance creeps right back in, and the religion loses its bite instantly.
My Professor Dr. Ramachandra, shared a story about the senselessness of rituals. He said, a great Hindu Sadhu (saint) goes to the Ganges to take the holy dip in the river to wash his sins off. As he walked on the edge of the river, thousands of devotees recognized him and decided, that is was time for them to learn from him by observing his rituals.
So the Sadhu places his traditional water bucket on the sand, and goes into the river, looks back at the brass bucket and realizes that it could be stolen, the smart man walks back and buries the bucket in the sand. As he was walking into the river, he realizes that he may not find the spot in the large swatch of sand, so he comes back, and plucks a branch from a tree and plants it on the top of the buried bucket and merrily goes back into the river. When he returns from his bath, he was shocked to see thousands of tree branches buried in the sand instead the one. Many a rituals are formed thru imitations without meaning it.
Please mark your calendar for Tuesday 9/11/2012, it’s a big event in Dallas- details atwww.UnitydayUSA.com
No American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. There are solutions, here is a trailer of the movie in making: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMXsTo4VYh8&feature=youtu.be
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily.