Religion & Religiosity

Jun 16th, 2008, in Opinion, by

Rima Fauzi Rima says religion and religiosity are to blame for much of Indonesia’s, and the world’s, troubles.

Why religion doesn’t matter at all

Once upon a time, Indonesia was well-known in the world as a nation of peace, tolerance and religious pluralism. Other countries even made us their example, a country full of people with various religious beliefs, from various ethnic and language background, people who live side by side in harmony.

Indonesia was and even more now, a very religious country, where the people live and breathe religion. It doesn’t matter what religion a person is, as long as it’s one of the six official religions. While it is unheard of in developed countries, in Indonesia identity cards bear not only name, address and sex, but also religion. Thus, religion is a must in the country of 240+ million people.

I still remember as a little girl, my Christian neighbors would come to our house in Eidl Fitr to celebrate our Ramadan victory with us, and vice versa, we would come to their houses to celebrate Christmas with them. Back then, we were not suspicious with one another, we were all like one big happy family, with real problems, none of which originated from religion. Those were good times.

I also remember being taught that religious people, specifically Muslims, go to heaven (if they’re good) and others do not. As kids, our schools taught us communism equals atheism and therefore very, very bad. This is deeply embedded in our minds which is why many Indonesians feel somewhat afraid or even disgusted towards communists and atheists.

As a little Muslim girl, at home and in Madrasah, I was taught that Jews were our enemy, never mind the fact that the Koran says otherwise. Christians weren’t mentioned, as it was politically incorrect to address them as our enemies back then. Besides, the President was close with the Christian community as well as the Muslims, making it a point that we were brothers and sisters who must fight the latent danger of communism and atheism.

Back then, I thought religious people like my dad, with his Peci, white shirt and sarong, reading the Holy Koran and doing the daily 5 obligatory prayers, Friday prayers plus the sunnahs like Dhuha and Tahajud; Or neighbors that go to church every Sunday and have bible studies once or twice a week, were perfect. Maybe they were, then. Living without a religion was something unthinkable, and most certainly a life that would doom a person to hell.

Fast forward several decades, things have changed. Not for the better, but for the worse. Now, the country is becoming more religious than ever, but tolerance is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Suspicion of Christian evangelism, for example, is rampant everywhere in the country with ridiculous accusations of lures of instant noodle to make one convert. Not only that, even sects within Islam are now attacked, despite sharing the same God and the same Holy Book.

Many of us are not obeying the law but instead take matters into our own hands. We are bypassing God as the only rightful entity to judge and condone or condemn anyone. Attacks and burning down of churches, places of worship and even mosques of different Islamic faith from Indonesia’s mainstream Islamic brand make many feel threatened to continue living in this tropical paradise. The government is weak and caves in to terrorist demands. A real shame that would make our founding fathers turn in their graves.

However, as we are growing more religious, good morals seems to have declined. There is no more shame in bribery, in prostituting the country by selling its resources to the so-called ‘infidels’ for big money while the country is short of the resources sold; there is no more shame in adultery, in human rights violations, in cheating the poor; there is no more shame in flaunting riches in front those who don’t have enough money to buy a decent meal, in attacking people for having different beliefs, in condoning immoral and violent acts; there is no more shame in oppressing ethnic and religious minority, in stealing funds intended to help those struck with earthquake/tsunami; there is no more shame in not being polite, in offending our brothers and sisters of different beliefs, of displaying behavior and attitude suitable for the middle ages, and; there is no more shame in abandoning victims of a disaster as a result of one’s greedy attempt to rich themselves, in any immoral acts in the interest of one’s self or group, being a bigot, racist and being discriminative.

We are instead fixated in pornography, women’s dress codes, dangdut singers’ dance and internet as if those are the only things in the world that could and would corrupt the moral of our future generation. We aren’t even ashamed of the fact that we are in the top 10 of most corrupt countries in the world, as if money is our new God, yet we are, without a doubt, one of the most religious nations in the world.

As I see all those above and more so-called religious people fighting with one another. Where one feels more self-righteous than the other and worse, hurting and killing people in the name of God, a God – if It exists at all – who would most likely shed a tear in sadness and frustration at all this, my opinion and feeling towards religions have changed 180 degrees.

I now strongly believe that religions are the culprit of all hurt and heartaches the people of this world has endured in the past, present and future. I believe it’s nothing but poison to the human mind. It limits our thinking, promotes hatred and violence and it tries to control us with threats of hell and lure us into doing evil things with promises of heaven. The day I know what religion God believes in, is the day I will once again believe in a religion. But until then, all the points above are the reasons why I think religion doesn’t matter at all.

302 Comments on “Religion & Religiosity”

  1. Patrick says:

    @Janma – “I love the story of Julian of Norwich a woman who in England in the 14th” century

    Nicely written commentary by you and with a good hopeful message for all!


  2. Patrick says:

    Shloka – As one example already noted :There are more than a few books documenting the role of Zen Buddhist leaders aiding and supporting (major way) the military of Japan. We all know the atrocities committed by Japan during WWII so need to rehash them here.

    My point again is only to get you to realize that we should not judge or throw stones at others if we are guilty of the same crimes. Peace!

  3. Jakartass says:

    I too liked Shloka’s story of Julian of Norwich (though should it be Julia given that she was, erm, a she?)

    I’ve used that story as the lead to a lengthy post which can be found here. My main point is that, for all their preaching and precepts, religions are generally divisive and create social disharmony with their ‘holier than thou’ stances..

  4. Shloka says:

    @ Patrick,

    There are also more than a few books about the role of the Catholic Church in aiding and abetting the Nazi regime. And of course, both World War 1 and 2 were majorly fought by Christian nations. Colonialism was a primary Christian activity too.

    I’m not even a Buddhist, and I hope I don’t hurt others’ sentiments but I just felt that stuff like the Crusades, millennia of anti semitism or anti any faith activity, or a global inquisition haven’t occured in Buddhist nations, at least for explicit religious causes.

    There are many Christians who’d claim all the glories of modern science have emerged due Christianity’s influence, and of course others have a right to differ. And I do admit that killing heretics is a thing of the past at least among Western Christians, although its still rampant in African Christians. Islam is a different ball game though.

  5. timdog says:

    Shloka said:

    my father

    And, as I said, you missed and proved my point…

    Shloka, I have already been accused of being “anti-India”; or “anti-Hindu”. I am anything but, but I have spent enough time in the Subcontinent to understand that virtually all understandings of history there are utterly, iredeemably partisan. That does not mean for a moment that I do not sympathise entirely with you…
    It may, perhaps, surprise you to know that I firmly, powerfully believe that the Subcontinent should never, never, never have been partitioned (this is a view that developed, gradually in a thoroughly informed manner – and I won’t discuss here who I blame for that particular mess).
    I also, it may surprise you to know, have a particular sympathy for Bangladeshis. The only one of the three countries in question that has some logical raison d’etre (on paper only), it has had the most miserable history (it’s interesting that for most people in Bangladesh, unlike in India or Pakistan, the British Raj seems to be regarded as truly ancient history, overlaid by more recent traumas)… For non-Muslim Bangladeshis, there’s yet another layer of trauma laid on top of that – as you obviously know…

    But what you may not appreciate is this:
    You can present your Indian History, as you have done here many times already; what you say is valid, and mostly true; personal histories that you have inherited are like bleeding red-raw scars…
    BUT, a Bombay Muslim could just as easily present an equally valid, equally emotive history, underscored with personal experience; a history that tells of “having the rug pulled out from under one’s feet”, finding oneself disenfranchised by the creation of a foreign country in which you have no share, no investment, and no interest; turned from a second-class citizen (by means of lingering caste-inheritance) to a third-class citizen (by means of religion); a life of miserable struggle and very real fear of the rampaging mob, of women raped and children murdered…
    Just as easily A Sikh could outline in irefutable terms a history of being betrayed by the British, of a glorious past given over to a life of refugeehood, a family history full of refugee grandparents hacked to pieces at the side of some Punjabi cart track (but no mention of the other grandparents who did the hacking of other refugees, heading in the other direction), full of uncles and cousins arrested and tortured by government police as aspirations were crushed, and of other uncles and cousins murdered by a rampaging Delhi mob…
    ANYONE, of any religion with their roots in any part of the Punjab could offer you a vividly undeniable history of brutality and victimhood.
    A Muslim Kashmiri could present a catagorically factual history of betrayal and abuse and heartbreak and lost hopes, of being toyed with, exploited, abused and oppressed by people from elsewhere – and likewise a Kashmiri Hindu could tell you a very true story of sisters murdered and ancestral homes abandoned…

    So please, please understand me when I say I understand what you are saying, but also please understand me that I know that as someone with a fully-paid-up share in the Subcontinent, perhaps a double share in your case, there are things that you are almost genetically hard-wired to feel, and things that you are almost genetically hard-wired not to understand, and things that you simply cannot view objectively…
    And then go back and read my previous post again.
    Shloka, I know this will make you angry, I know that you will respond with a carefully structured post explaining, by way of multiple examples, exactly why the case you present is utterly unique, but there is scarcely a single Subcontinental player who could not do exactly the same, which is why I would like you to read my previous post again.
    I genuinely write this with a deep empathy and sympathy, respect and regret…

  6. Patrick says:

    dewaratugedeanom Says: What kind of a twisted rationale is this?

    The key phrase that you and others seemed to miss was ;”If yes, then let’s look at the lifestyles enjoyed by countries with majority Buddhist populations”.

    I then name the countries with predominant populations that are Buddhist and name some of the atrocities committed in those countries. I also point out that most of those countries are or have been recently a “who’s who on the Human Rights Watch List. Please have a re-read and see if you can connect the dots. Thanks for your kind words!

  7. Shloka says:

    @ Timdog,

    Today, a discussion of Khalistan came up in my class, and a majority of my classmates hadn’t even heard of it, while others had some vague idea about some Sikh separatist movement before their birth. This isn’t representative of all Indians by any means, but it gives a fair idea of how urban, literate 16 year olds respond to the issue. However, every member of my class knows the bomb blasts by Muslim terrorists, as they unfailing occur a couple of times a year, and in the most unpredictable locations. You say every opinion in the sub continent is partisan which is an entirely correct observation, but where in the world will you get totally objective views? Whenever I read about any issue, even those which don’t in the slightest involve me, I have some views, and they are of course not free from prejudice. I won’t believe you or anyone else for that matter, if they claim that after spending 10 years travelling and learning about a certain place, you’ve developed a totally non partisan viewpoint.

    As for Bombay Muslims presenting a tragic tale of oppression, they’ve no monopoly on that ! As you say, right after the mosque demolition, mass murderer Ball Thakarey commited some atrocities, in retaliation of Muslim atrocities. Soon after that, bombs planted in Bombay killed 250, mainly Hindus. Fair enough, violence in return of violence.

    However, in 2006, Muslim terrorists planted bombs in Mumbai local trains, killing hundreds. Why? Bombay Hindus hadn’t done anything for years! So, now Bombay Hindus live in fear of blasts, even if there’s no communal conflict preceding it. As do Jaipur Hindus, Hyderabadi Hindus, Varanasi Hindus, although none have as much as lifted a finger on Muslims at any time in te past or present.

    This situation is of course not limited to the sub-continent. Bali Hindus too live in perpetual fear of blasts. In this case, there’s no Hindu mass murderer who killed Muslims, and unlike Indian Muslims Balinese Hindus don’t inexplicably blast bombs in mosques or public places either.Russian schoolchildren no doubt live in fear of seiges, Paris in fear of Algerian Islamists who inexplicably might want to spread their Jihad there again and Madrid train passengers still have a lurking fear.

    Curiously, Pakistani Muslims too live in similar fear of terrorism, from disaffected Shias, Algerian Muslims from Islamists and Egyptian Muslims might fear going to Luxor, after the Luxor bombings, and Jordanian Muslims from terrorists. Unfortunately, the perpetratrs in all these cases are Muslims too.

    I know i’m “part of the problem” and no doubt you’ll be net surfing again, for whatever atrocity Hindus have commited, even if they pale into insignificance in front of the scale of Islam related violence.

  8. timdog says:

    I said:

    you will respond with a carefully structured post explaining, by way of multiple examples, exactly why the case you present is utterly unique

    And so it came to pass…
    My point, sadly, proved…

    You said:

    my father

    Most of my father’s family are only a few pints of guinness away from heartfelt singing of IRA songs, and a few pints more from moist-eyed bemoaning of historical injustices, and perhaps a few shots of whiskey on top of that from virtually genocidal remarks about “the Protestants”.
    Almost all of them, his generation and mine, were born on the British mainland and have UK passports.
    Now, lilting fiddle music and sentimental ballads of green fields and prodigal sons are all well and good over glasses in London, Glasgow or New York, but carry what’s left of the flag out into the cold, hard light of day and you’ll see the bloodstains.
    Needless to say, I find it all thoroughly objectionable.
    My father finds it all objectionable too. In his early 20s he abandoned what he saw as a grimly sadistic and hypocritical faith – and has that sizzling hostility to all religion that only those who have spent a certain part of their life struggling with the fervent belief that they were going to hell for what they were thinking have. He also rejected “the community”, which he saw as crushingly judgemental, with faux-nationalism, sectarianism and hypocrisy at its core, and ran as far as he could to the very opposite end of the country.
    But even he, if you flash up an Ulster Orangeman on the 6pm news bulletin, will twitch a little as something hard-wired and inherited flickers in the back of his brainstem, and will say, paining himself even as he says it, “They are bastards, you know, the lot of them, they really are…”
    I have always been painfully aware that I am only one generation and a certain quantity of alcohol away from all of this, and I believe that that powerfully informs my attitude to all these things…

    Shloka said:

    Fair enough, violence in return of violence.

    The passing decades are slowly letting us see the blood dripping from Gandhi’s hands, but he did say some nice things:

    An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

    Shloka I don’t for a minute think that you would be out their on the street with a knife in your hand, tearing through the Muslim slums with a thirst for “vengance”, but you clearly demonstrate a more refined, more polished, more liberal form of the same sentiments that drive the mob (and before you respond, I mean this in a generic sense, nothing to do with Hindu-Muslim).
    Shloka, a miserably poor and fearful Muslim in Bombay, or indeed, on the other side of the Hooghli from you, has no responsibility for anything that they did not do themselves, and friends of mine in Bangladesh (yes, thank you, I got your sneering, your snarling) did not personally chase your father from the country. In fact, no one comitted any crime against you any more than some random modern-day Northern Irish Protestant bears any guilt for some wrong felt by some far-removed ancestor of mine…
    I have already said that I know that you cannot understand this, and that is why the Subcontinent will be poisoned forever, but go an reread by last but one post…

  9. Shloka says:

    @ Timdog,

    I understand what you’re saying, but I hate being the only blind guy, if those making me blind are happily roaming around with two bright eyes… I’m no saint, not even a pretend saint like Gandhi. And sure every impoverished Bombay Muslim isn’t responsible for riots, however just a couple of months back, a Bombay slum dweller blew up his and his neighbours’ huts, and wantonly killed 20 people, as he was manufacturing RDX for an attack on infidels. So, some slum dwellers are indeed very guilty. As every riot against Muslims in India was preceded by Muslim violence, to stop riots, something very simple is required from Muslims’ side, stop your blasts and atrocities, there’ll be no retaliations.

    That deals with India I guess. And whats’ your solution to religion inspired violence and terrorism in much of the Middle East, Egypt, U.S.A., Nigeria, Pak, Bangladesh, Algeria, Bali, Spain, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan or wherever there’s a significant population of Muslims? If the Muslims are the overwhelming majority, there’s violence between the progressive Muslims and the stick to the Shariah type Islamists, often with Islamists attacking progressive dictators. Or the Shariah inspired Government is in power, while progressives are trying to topple it. In case the country is divided almost equally into Muslims and non Muslims, there’s a Lebanon or Nigeria style perpetual violence situation. Or if the Muslims are in a significant minority, a la Russia, Israel ,India and France, they enjoy all the benefits of democracy and protection of sects like Ahmadiyya, but they cause significant unrest. Even if I try very hard to be charitable, I’d run out of excuses for Muslims.
    I know the situation was(?) volatile in Ireland, and South African Christian sometimes kill “witches” , and there are equally anachronistic practices and violent elements within Hinduism, as you doubtless know, but are they anywhere as endemic as those in Islam?

  10. Shloka says:

    @ Patrick,

    There seems to be some strange correlation of Christianity with AIDS in Africa, the more Christian a nation, the more AIDS infected it is. Swaziland 39%, South Africa 21%, Uganda 15% etc, while Muslim and Animists in Africa face a far lesser AIDS rate. But I don’t see any way in which Christianity could be responsible for AIDS so I won’t add it to Christianity’s list of crimes. There are still majority Christian nations on the HRW list like Cuba, but I’d blame atheism rather than Christianity for those.

    Wonder how the Christian nations would be fare when the conquistadores were wiping out glorious civilizations, and the “sun never set” on the British Empire. They’d be right at the bottom of the heap, don’t you think?

    Colonialism and the resulting impoverishment of colonies, Nazism, Fascism ended only 60 years back, Communism in the West some 10-20 years back, Apartheid a decade and a half back. In the thousand years history of religion, that peace is but a blink of the eye. And I reiterate, none of those atrocities were specifically committed in religion’s name, so I don’t hold Christianity responsible. Peace.

  11. Lairedion says:

    timdog said:

    The passing decades are slowly letting us see the blood dripping from Gandhi’s hands

    Can you give examples of that? Plain and straight answer please, mr. Islamophile.

  12. timdog says:

    I like your new avatar Lairedion – angry eyes…
    This is not me being deliberately contrary; there has been a growing revisionist approach to Gandhi and various other key historical figures in the story of India’s independence movement in recent years that is moving steadily towards the view that the “Mahatma” was highly culpable, perhaps most culpable of all, in engendering the rancour and bitterness that elbowed MA Jinnah – an alcoholic bacon-eater married to a Parsee do remember – out of Congress to kick back into life the moribund Muslim League, and to end up stumbling from his deathbed into possesion of a country he arguable never really wanted. Gandhi’s endlessly quaint stunts masked a stupendous political inflexibility at a time when that was the very last thing India needed.
    And in the end we got a monstrous partial birth of two nations, perhaps as many as a million people dead in an almost unique case of spontaneous mutual genocide, and a firmly entrenched religious sectarianism (which ironically was to be the death of Gandhi) and a bloody and perpetual inheritance of which Shloka owns a share…
    A the idea of Gandhi as “saint” has become very much out-dated amongst many serious historians in recent years.
    Honestly Lairedion, this is not me being deliberately perverse and has absolutely nothing to do with Islamophilia, Hinduphobia, or melacholy Irish romanticism… 😉

  13. Patrick says:

    @Shloka – I attended the International AIDS Conference in Durban. SA in 2002 so I am quite aware of prevalence rates. Perhaps it escaped you that the AIDS epidemic broke out first in large numbers in Sub-Sahara Africa and the world in general was ill equipped at the time to stop it due to lack of understanding of how it was spread, funds, drugs, condoms, lack of circumcision and information etc.? It took almost 20 years (from realization of AIDS) before the world truly coordinated efforts to combat the disease and unfortunately that was more than ample time for AIDS to work its way into the general populations of Sub-Sahara countries and yes predominantly Christian nations. However, a complex computer model of the evolution of HIV-1 has suggested that the first transfer of SIV to humans occurred around 19303, with HIV-2 transferring from monkeys found in Guinea-Bissau, at some point in the 1940s. Since Guinea Bissau is predominantly Animist (about 60 %) should we not blame them for starting the epidemic by finding monkeys so attractive? :>)

  14. dewaratugedeanom says:

    Patrick said

    The key phrase that you and others seemed to miss was ;”If yes, then let’s look at the lifestyles enjoyed by countries with majority Buddhist populations”.

    I then name the countries with predominant populations that are Buddhist and name some of the atrocities committed in those countries.

    Your full post was

    Really? If thats true then can we can say it is more of a philosophy on how to live your life than a religion? Do you agree? If yes, then let’s look at the lifestyles enjoyed by countries with majority Buddhist populations
    Most of the Buddhist countries have had long histories of abysmal human rights records and repressive totalitarian forms of governments. That list includes: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand, Japan, Myanamar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. If you wish you can add China as it once enjoyed a majority Buddhist populaton.

    I still don’t get it. Do you blame Buddhism – religion or philosophy, whatever – for the atrocities committed in these countries, just because the majority of their population is Buddhist? The victims of these atrocities were Buddhist themselves, so, if I follow your reasoning, the victims have to put the blame on themselves for their miserable fate. In this case you should also blame Christianity for the violence in Northern Ireland, as the majority there is Christian.

    The cases of communal violence in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh you mentioned, although I certainly don’t condone them, seem all have to do with active proselytizing which IMHO is an evil in itself and often the reason for the outbreak of violent behaviour. And unfortunately this proselytizing is a characteristic of monotheistic (except Judaism) religions.

  15. Lairedion says:


    Look at your comment in the FGM I quoted to show your biased views as a genuine Islamophile, or better soon to be Muslim:

    why do people who make a perceived attack on Islam sometimes find their life in danger? Quite simple – because, unfortunately, a certain number of Muslims find in their faith justification, even a requirement, for violence when their religion comes under attack… it’s unfortunate and reprehensible

    Death threats, terrorist attacks and murders in the name of Islam are unfortunate and reprehensible but Ghandhi has blood dripping from his hands because his alleged stubbornness led to the violence that accompanied the separation of India and Pakistan. In other words he was deliberately stubborn because he knew in advance violence was going to break out and therefore has blood dripping from his hands. 😕

    It would be better for you give in on your feelings by uttering the Shahada and embrace Islam. It would make your comments much more credible and meaningful.

  16. mirax says:

    The conversation between shloka and Patrick on tolerance/intolerance is breaking down on the same faultlines as this conversation between Gandhi and a monotheist ( Gandhi’s logic is impeccable but he makes the wrong choice, of the two positions between belief in all and disbelief in all)

    On January 2nd, 1937 a Professor of Philosophy from Poland, Krzenski came to see Gandhiji. Krzanski told Gandhi that Catholicism was the only true religion.

    “Do you therefore say that other religions are untrue?” Gandhi asked.

    Krzenski: “If others are convinced that their religions are true they are saved.”

    Gandhi: “Therefore, you will say that everyone would be saved even through untruth. For you say that if a man really and sincerely believes in what is as a matter of fact untruth, he is saved. Would you not also hold, therefore, that your own way may be untrue but that you are convinced that it is true and therefore you will be saved?”

    Krzenski: “But I have studied all religions and have found that mine is the only true religion.”

    Gandhi: “But so have others studied other religions. What about them? Well, I go further and tell you that religion is one and it has several branches which are all equal.”

    Krzenski: “I accept that no religion lacks divine inspiration but all have not the same truth, because all have not the same light.”

    Gandhiji: “It is an essentially untrue position to take, for a seeker after truth, that he alone is in absolute possession of truth. What is happening to the poor astronomers today? They are changing their position every day, and there are scientists who impeach even Einstein’s latest theory.”

    Krzenski: “No. But I have examined the arguments in favour of other religions.”

    Gandhi: “But it is an intellectual examination. You require different scales to weigh spiritual truth. Either we are all untrue — quite a logical position to take (the only logical position IMO;-) )— but, since truth does not come out of untruth, it is better to say that we all have truth but not the complete truth. For God reveals His truth to instruments that are imperfect. Raindrops of purest distilled water become diluted or polluted as soon as they come in contact with mother earth. My submission is that your position is arrogant. But I suggest to you a better position. Accept all religions as equal, for all have the same root and the same laws of growth.”

    Krzenski: “It is necessary to examine every religion philosophically and find out which is more harmonious, more perfect.”

    Gandhi: “That presupposes that all religions are in watertight compartments. That is wrong. They are always growing. Let us not limit God’s function. He may reveal Himself in a thousand ways and a thousand times.”

    Now the Professor switched on to the next question viz., that of fighting materialism.

    Gandhi: “It is no use trying to fight these forces without giving up the idea of conversion, which I assure you is the deadliest poison that ever sapped the fountain of truth.”

    Krzenski: “But I have a great respect for your religion.”

    Gandhi: “Not enough. I had that feeling myself one day, but I found that it was not enough. Unless I accept the position that all religions are equal, and I have as much regard for other religions as I have for my own, I would not be able to live in the boiling war around me. Any make-believe combination of spiritual forces is doomed to failure if this fundamental position is not accepted. I read and get all my inspiration from the Gita. But I also read the Bible and the Koran to enrich my own religion. I incorporate all that is good in other religions.”

    Krzenski: “That is your goodwill.”

    Gandhi: “That is not enough.”

    Krzenski: “But I have great respect for you.”

    Gandhi: “Not enough. If I were to join the Catholic church you would have greater respect for me.”

    Krzenski: “Oh yes, if you became a Catholic, you would be as great as St. Francis.”

    Gandhi: “But not otherwise? A Hindu cannot be a St. Francis? Poor Hindu!”

    (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol 64, pp. 203-4)

  17. mirax says:

    BTW, that is a really one-eyed revisionist view of Gandhi, TimDog! Only Pakistanis and hindutvadis would share your spleen for Gandhi! No wonder you were muttering darkly about not wanting to discuss whom to really blame for the partition. So please do name the MANY scholars and historians who are putting the smoking gun in the halfnaked fakir’s hands. I’d be the first to agree that he is no saint but blood dripping from his hands?! Nothing on the agnostic anglophilic and urbane muslim whose powerplays ended up founding , ironically, not one but two nations defined only by their religion? Let us judge how far the revisionism is justified.

    A simple opinion : the rancour between the muslims, sikhs and hindus was set in place by a millenia of occupation, wars, struggles (punctuated by periods of shifting alliances and peace ) between the three. Northern India was laid to waste by the muslim conquests and rule – and the wounds still run deep from all of that. Partition was the final straw but seeing the direness of the religion inspired nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh , quite a number of my Indian relatives are beginning to be grateful for it.

    Despite what you have frequently said about the situation of minorities in India – there are problems of course but not always on the scale you paint- at least India still has its minorities! India at least cares enough about its muslims to commission the Sachar report and several indian states list muslims amongst the groups that get preferential affirmative action – job and college quotas. The richest hindu temples – places like Tirupathi, which alone has an annual income of 6 billion rupees, are government administered unlike the minority religions which have complete freedom over their places of worship, and a good part of their income is diverted to subsidy of the minority religions like the annual haj subsidy or yes, even church construction. Been doing that for decades, has Indonesia anything similar? Yes I recall your rather glib comparison of the two countries elsewhere on this site and your ‘impression’ that since javanese christians appeared to be better off than javanese muslims, Indonesia treats its minorities better than India.

    Bangladesh and Pakistan have magically ‘lost’ their sikhs ands hindus and christians – those numbers they had at partition and the remnants left now just don’t tally. What happened and why? Just as the middle east seems to have lost its jews and christians and Turkey, its armenians and greeks.

  18. Patrick says:

    Please, you must address me by my full title; Emperor of Everything Mohandas K. Ghandi… but you may call me Ghandi. ”

    ~ Ghandi on Himself

  19. Shloka says:

    @ Timdog,

    It seems that, for the first time, you’ve got some facts wrong. Yes Mohammed Ali Jinnah was married to a woman who came from a Parsi family, but she converted to Islam. Jinnah’s wife, Rattanbai Petit, belonged to a prosperous business Zoroastrian family, who also took an active interest in India’s freedom struggle. Jinnah was Rattanbai’s father’s close friend, and would often visit their house to discuss political matters. That’s how he met Ratan and decided to get married. He was a widower whose first wife, a born Muslimah had passed away. When he raised the issue of marriage to Ratanbai’s( commonly called Ruttie) father, he asked his opinion on inter faith marriage. Ruttie’s father declared,” It would bring unity among all communities.” Thereafter Jinnah stated,” I want to marry your daughter,” and was promptly thrown out of Ruttie’s house. However, two years later they did wed, only after Ruttie converted to Islam, and took on the name Mariam. So its not an “inter faith” marriage after all, his wife gave up her previous faith. Subsequently, Ruttie was ostracized by her family but the couple had a few blissful years together, and their only child, daughter Dina was born. Thereafter, the marriage soured due to Jinnah’s preoccupation with politics and neglect of his family, and the couple separated but not divorced. When Ruttie fell ill and died, she was given a Muslim burial, and Jinnah publicly broke down and cried. Note again- Muslim conversion and subsequent Muslim burial.

    However, now Jinnah’s real hypocrisy comes to the forefront. His daughter, Dina fell in love and wanted to marry Neville Wadia, an extremely wealthy Zoroastrian, a man of his wife’s ex faith. Jinnah was violently opposed to the match. He told his daughter in no uncertain terms, ” There are millions of Muslim men in India. You may marry any one of them, but not this man.” His spunky daughter replied,”There were millions of Muslim women in India too. Why did you marry my mother and not them?” – a very valid query. Jinnah’s reply,” But she became Muslim.” Note again Jinnah’s reply- but she became Muslim.

    His daughter’s resolve to wed Neville Wadia didn’t waver, and she wed him in the face of her father’s stiff opposition. Her father then maintained little contact with her, and always addressed her as ” Mrs. Wadia” in his letters. He also partially disowned her, and willed his house to his sister rather than her, although he bequeathed her some of his less valuable property. His house, is still a hotly contested piece of property.At least, he didn’t honor kill her, he’d have gotten into trouble with the British if he tried.

    INTERESTING FACTOID: Jinnah started dating Ruttie when she was 16 and he a widower in his mid forties. I think it would be dreadfully inappropriate for a 40+ man to date me, however Jinnah was following the footsteps of the noble Prophet Mohammed(PBUH), but dating a 9 year old would probably land him in prison. Sorry, couldn’t resist that!

  20. Shloka says:

    @ Patrick,

    I NEVER blamed Christianity for Africa’s AIDS, however its a commonly known fact that, in predominantly Christian nations of Africa, the AIDS infected form a significant proportion of the population, however in Muslim African nations, are either some of the lowest in the world eg. Tunisia, and Algeria, or at least not significantly higher than non African nations eg Somalia 1% and U.S.A. .76%. However, since there’s no direct connection between Christianity and AIDS, I won’t criticize Christianity. Isn’t it equally absurd to criticize Buddhism for incidents which have nothing to do with the practice, propagation or defence of Buddhism?
    Interestingly, Islam in African Mali is remarkably tolerant, although Christians in Rwanda butchered each other in a Civil War, intended to turn Rwanda into a Biblical Christian nation. But it is a local conflict, so I won’t blame Christian teachings for that .

  21. Lairedion says:

    Well, at least we can blame the Roman dictatorship residing in Vatican City for some of Africa’s AIDS problems because of their consequent appeals to refrain from using condoms. And what about a certain Pope Pius XII who constantly refused to condemn Nazi violence and up until 1943 did nothing to prevent the evolving Holocaust or show any compassion to the Jews.

    Talking about blood dripping hands.

  22. mirax says:

    That was rather nasty, Shloka. The bit about jinnah ‘honor-killing’ and the focus on the age difference between him and his 2nd wife.

    As for hypocrites, Gandhi was rather upset when one of his sons converted to islam.

  23. mirax says:

    Gandhi’s treatment of his longsuffering wife – all that ‘celibacy’ and testing his ‘control over his desire’ with nubile young things from the ashram- left something to be desired too.

  24. Patrick says:

    Shloka – Are you in what they call the “SPIN ZONE”? :>)

  25. Shloka says:

    @ Mirax,

    Ok, sorry. I feel nasty sometimes, especially when I get bad grades, like today. And as for hypocrisy, Gandhi didn’t marry a Muslimah and make her convert to Hinduism did he? That’s DOUBLE STANDARDS of Jinnah, a Muslim will marry a non Muslim, as long as the non Muslim converts, but of couse a Muslim, especially a Muslim woman cannot marry a non Muslim man, exactly as the Koran forbids a Muslimah to marry a non believer.

    In other words, a Muslim will follow his scriptures to the last letter even if he doesn’t show similar respect to others’ religious sentiments.

  26. Lairedion says:


    While poking fun at Shloka, you still haven’t answered her question on showing Buddhist equivalents of such nice Christianity-inspired treats like the Crusades, Inquisition, destruction of Native cultures in the Americas and Colonialism in general.

    You may agree or disagree with her, that’s the freedom of discussion but at least she tries to answer all questions and to react to your comments.

  27. mirax says:

    Patrick’s quote on gandhi reveals that he is a fair bit younger than shloka and his head is quite content-free.

  28. mirax says:

    shloka, the muslim laws on marriage to non-muslims and apostasy are unjust, agree

    But there are people who break free from such. I have at least five nominally muslim friends – all indian muslims – married to hindus and christians without imposing their religion on their partners. Yes the families were very unhappy about it and there exists a coolness, though not quite an estrangement, till now. One of these ‘muslims’ is female and married to a much younger chinese man. They can do this in singapore only because (although all muslims are supposed to be married in the sharia court), they simply applied to the civil registry and the civil registry quietly processed the marriages. The day the civil registry turns them away to be registered under sharia is the day the sh*t hits the fan. I am not as concerned about terrorism as i am about sharia encroaching into public life. The poisonous effects of this on personal liberty as seen in malaysia and elsewhere have to be fought but fortunately there are also some muslims on the same side of this battle.

  29. timdog says:

    Hell, this thread went mental while I was gone…
    Lairedion – The very great (and long dead) journalist James Cameron is something of a hero of mine. A proper old lefty, a liberal in the true sense of the word, and a brilliant writer, he was not particularly fond of Islam, but was far from hysterical about it; he wrote, rather disparagingly, that for many centuries the Islamic world had proved attractive to rather a lot of Britishers. Perhaps he was right. Burton, Lawrence, Thesiger, those are my writers (spectacularly out of fashion and politically INcorrect all). Perhaps I should have been born 150 years earlier when I could have put my indulgent penchant for dressing in silly clothes and wandering around the mountains of High Asia to good use in the Great Game (far too much Kipling and Buchan in my youth I’m afraid). I’m fond of Islamic arcitecture and revel in unreconstructed orientalism (the kind of stuff that, if you threw it into a room full of post-Saidian politically correct historians would, would prompt the same reaction as dropping a polecat into a chicken coop).
    But, you’ve got far more chance of finding an Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi with a non-partisan, objective view of history than seeing me convert to any religion, least of all Islam… just so you know…

    Shloka, do anything you want with the emaciated cadavar of Jinnah: hypocrisy, egotism, deciept, conceit… but to attempt to pin down any of his multitude of quirks and flaws as being somehow “typically Muslim” is stretching it… It’s hard enough to claim him as a Muslim at all… and I was going to raise poor old Harilal Gandhi, but mirax got there first…

    Mirax – as I said somewhere, I fervently believe that the Subcontinent should NEVER have been partitioned; I also believe that the creation of Pakistan, along with a few other key factors, is one of the fundamental roots of the current problems in much of the Muslim world… Jinnah, a spectacularly tragic figure (and not in the “feeling sorry for” sense), and Gandhi are probably the most obvious figures to finger for blame among myriad others. The preposterous bufoon that was Mountbatten was far too late on the scene to have any real effect on the way things were going (despite what he thought and propagated himself in later years) but his “cut, run, and make me look fabulous” approach almost certainly made the bloodshed worse…
    The Hindutva nutters certainly hate Gandhi; curiously, in Pakistan attitudes to him are largely ambivilent, and occasionally positive, in a low-key fashion… but you will find him getting a progressively bumpier ride in most mainstream non-Indian histories of recent years; Patrick French, Alex von whateverhernameis, and Read and Fisher, being obvious examples that come to mind. At the same time there seems to be a very tentative toying with the possibility of rehabilitating Jinnah. Personally I think this is just a reflexive reaction to his traditional casting as “villain of the piece” (as in the unintentionally hillarious “Freedom at Midnight”, possibly the worst “pop history” ever written) that shouldn’t be pursued too far…

  30. Patrick says:

    Lairedeon says And what about a certain Pope Pius XII who constantly refused to condemn Nazi violence and up until 1943 did nothing to prevent the evolving Holocaust or show any compassion to the Jews. Talking about blood dripping hands.

    Patrick’s answer – Pope Pius XII efforts did not go unrecognized by Jewish authorities, even during the War. The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog, sent the Pope a personal message of thanks on February 28, 1944, in which he said: “The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundations of true civilization, are doing for us unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of divine Providence in this world.”

    The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, also made a statement of thanks: “What the Vatican did will be indelibly and eternally engraved in our hearts. . . . Priests and even high prelates did things that will forever be an honor to Catholicism.”

    @ Lairedeon about Buddhist attrocities see my post about Japan

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