Anu Garg of A.Word.A.Day writes a very relevant note today: The word religion derives from Latin ligare (to tie or to bind, as in 'ligament'), but it best serves as a tool to divide people. My religion is better than yours. My god true, yours false. What, we have the same religion? No problem, my sect is better than yours.
This reminds me of what is currently happening in Malaysia—a country where the so called “Islamic terrorism” is yet to take root. But first a little detour.
Today, my daughter missed her school bus. Perhaps we were late by a minute or so and the bus driver assumed that my daughter was not going to school today. He left without informing us. Usually he calls us if we are late for the bus—a practice that he follows. We trusted him on this practice. We waited for the bus to come. For what seemed like a long time, it didn’t come. When I called the driver, I understood what had happened. We had missed it.
I took a cab and dropped my daughter at the school. Then I started for my office. The cabbie started talking about the ‘Malaysia problem’.
What Malaysian problem, I asked him. I knew what he was hinting (the firebombing of some churches in Malaysia and the controversy on the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims) at but religious bigotry is the last thing that I want to talk about. That too first thing in the morning.
If you have to know the topic of the day, ask a cab driver. So, it was there like an elephant in the car and a discussion was unavoidable.
Coming from India, religious bigotry and violence is not new to me. There is a minority of people in every religion that despises people of other faiths and other sects and these people are used by politicians to incite violence for political gains. I suspected it is the same group behind the anti-church violence in Malaysia (I was reminded of the burning of churches and church workers in India by the lunatic fringe of the Hindu right). The British tactic of divide and rule is a tried and tested formula and it seldom fails.
The driver agreed with me. No religion teaches violence against people of other faith and their places of worship. It is the narrow-minded tiny minority that uses religion to divide people.
As far as the use of word ‘Allah’ is concerned, following is the stand of Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqui, a Nadwa, Madina, Birmingham, and Harvard educated scholar and Chairman of the Fiqh Council of America (courtesy Saba Bhai): “There is nothing wrong if Christians or Jews want to use ‘Allah’ for God. In the Qur’an Jews and Christians are mentioned using the name Allah. Arab Christians always used Allah for God. The Arabic Bible has Allah written on almost every page.”
Now, how unreasonable is that?