Friday, October 14, 2011
While we don't have an open war between religion now, there certainly are feuds and enmity between religious groups. When the groups represent different races or nationalities, then the enmity assumes a more serious nature. But thank God, the feuds or clashes so far remain covert and do not flare up into an open war.
More difficult to understand are the clashes and enmity between groups professing the same religion in the same or different countries. In this age of keen competition for survival and progress, one would expect that people professing the same religion would stick together and help each other to establish and strengthen their religious belief (if not to do some proselytizing work). But no, we have many clashes within the same religion because of different sects within the religion. Prophet Mohamed (SAW) said that Christianity would break up into 72 sects while Islam will break up into 73. That presages the clashes that would come about ultimately.
But do all those following a certain sect in one religion know exactly where they differ from the beliefs of the other sects? Or do they just allow themselves to be dragged into a certain sect because of PARENTAL UPBRINGING AND NATIONAL or COMMUNAL IDENTITY? What's amazing is that we don't quite see these differences in everyday life, especially when one's religious belief is considered as a private matter and the rituals involved do not take a prominent aspect of everyday life. If the differences remain unobvious and unobtrusive, there is no reason why they should interfere in the daily life of the various groups following different sects in the same religion, and cause them to clash with each other.
But we do see such enmity and clashes as much as clashes between the followers of different religion. Is it really because of the different teachings or because of the RELIGIOUS PRIDE each group exhibits? Each sect or
school of thought in a religion often considers itself more righteous and sanctified than the others, leading to mutual aversion. In Malaysia the enmity is not even caused by a difference in the school of thoughts or 'mazhab" but by political affiliation. But the aversion for each other has led to various disagreement on matters of religion itself, dividing the Muslims into two different camps - not because of religion but because of politics.
There's yet another divisive factor at work which comes under the category of RELIGIOUS PRIDE. That is the "hollier than thou" attitude of the ulamaks, imams and even Hajis and Lebais in their interaction with the ordinary members of the public, be they Muslims or non Muslims. They have distinguished themselves by their dress. While that does not bother the ordinary man anymore, they often assume that the ordinary man is stupid, ungrateful to Allah, and very irreligious, especially in the Friday sermons (khutbah). They preach to others as if they are beyond any religious reproach while the religious pride they exhibit is enough to be called 'riak.' May Allah forgive them all.
What is important is to note that this RELIGIOUS PRIDE; could be more damaging to the unity of the people of the world with different religious beliefs, and the ummah although under one religion i.e. Islam, than the differences in religion and religious faiths itself. Different religion and even different sects under the same religion do no seem to divide people more than the RELIGIOUS PRIDE that people, especially religious leaders, exhibit among themselves and their followers.