The Easter day suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, allegedly by Islamist fundamentalists, targeted two popular Catholic Churches, an evangelical church and three luxury hotels and has so far claimed more than 250 lives and left several hundreds injured.
Not convinced of the security measures of local government agencies, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the top Catholic leader of that nation, asked the churches and church-related institutions to remain closed until further notice. It’s going to be the third Sunday for Catholics in that South Asian country, predominantly Buddhist, without their religious services.
Of the close to 22 million people of this island nation situated in the Indian Ocean, 70.2% follow Buddhism, 12.6% Hinduism, 9.7% Islam and 7.4% Christianity. Previously there existed a 26-year-long civil war in this country that took a toll of tens of thousands of lives of innocents. Apart from this there had occurred few minor religious issues created by some fundamentalist Sinhala-speaking Buddhist monks toward the followers of other religions.
In common parlance, Sri Lanka is a peace-loving nation where various religions coexist and flourish. What had happened on Easter Sunday is obviously not the act of the whole Muslim community in that country. By the very fact that the failed Islamic State has claimed responsibility for this gruesome and inhuman act, it’s fair to conclude that a handful of the Sri Lankan Muslims became ISIS hands and feet in committing these despicable and heinous acts.
Every religion’s proclaimed aim — especially that of the three major monotheistic ones: Judaism, Christianity and Islam — is to help its followers to experience God and reach God at the end of their Earthly life. Aimed at this objective each has its own religious dictates. If any among these three advocates achieving God-experience through the annihilation of the other — killing those who follow other religious traditions — rather than sacrificing one’s own ego, thus annihilating in oneself all that are in the way of one’s achieving divine bliss, then something is radically wrong in that faith.
If any religion has a dictate in its holy book and if that dictate is detrimental to the peaceful coexistence of the people of various religions, for sure, I affirm that dictate is not from God. If that is the root cause of such kamikaze attacks, targeting the followers of other religions, then such dictates are to be declared invalid and unacceptable to any human being who wants to live a peaceful life here on Earth.
Toward that end, I would recommend a world body of leaders representing various religions to make sure whatever is given in the holy books of various religions, and their interpretations given time and again, are befitting of the entirety of humanity living life here on Earth.
It doesn’t mean that each and every dictate found in the holy book of every religion is to be meticulously discussed and decided at the world body of the leaders of the various religions. The reference to the 72 virgins which the Muslims will get in the life after if they fight in war for the sake of Allah and their Islamic religion, perhaps is misunderstood. Or it needs to be corrected in its right perspective. Also, religious books advocating the establishment of a theocratic state based on a certain religion is simply not of divine origin but has its origin in the extreme selfishness of human minds that want to keep others always under control to the extent of keeping them as slaves in the guise of a divine mandate.
Our memory is still fresh as to remember what happened in Iraq and Syria in the guise of religion. An extremist fundamentalist group, calling themselves Muslims, tried to exterminate the peace-loving followers of the minority religious groups in those countries. They committed the genocide — pogrom on Christians and Yazidis — in the name of their God. It’s just commonsense to ask: Is such a God, God?
Because of the rise of religious fundamentalism, daily life, these days, has increasingly become torturous. Our worship places are to be securely protected. For traveling people, half of our precious life is to be spent at the airports. Instead of bringing peace, harmony and happiness in life, due to the presence of extremists in certain religious affiliations, the whole world is increasingly becoming chaotic.
If anything in any religion is causing to such evil happenings in the world, then such elements from such religion are to be rooted out with urgency. It’s my hope and prayer that leading figures in various religious traditions the world over may come together and find a solution for all these despicable actions taking place in the name of God and religion.