It is ironical that the more religious a person is, the more critical he or she tends to be of another religion. It follows that the less religious a person is the more tolerant he or she is of the religion of others. Why is it ironical? Because a religious person should be well aware of the fact that they are many religious faiths in this world and even people holding the same faith or religion can belong to different orders or sects. Islam is predicted by Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to break up into 73 sects while Chritianity could break up into 72. Only God knows how the religions of the world will end up one day. What we Muslims believe is that Allah let people adopt different religious beliefs so that human beings will learn from each other. Almighty God can certainly allow only one religion to survive if He so wishes.
The world is for all Human Beings
Respect for one another's religion is the mark for true religiosity.You hold on to what you believe and let others do the same. It's the intervention of the State to tolerate only one religion or one religious order and force all its citizens to follow that order, which can cause turmoil and disorder. It is that spirit which in the past led to senseless wars and the killing of innocent people in the name of religion. Should we allow that spirit to be revived when it is very clear now that you cannot force people to adopt any religion other than what they believe in and chose for themselves? Religious freedom or freedom to practice the religion one believes in, has been accepted by most countries in the modern world. To belittle or insult the religion of others is the most irreligious behavior one can think of. On the other hand showing a deep respect for the religion of others is a reflection of your own religiosity. One source of information indicates that people of the world are divided into five different religions as below:
Five largest religions: Adherents in 2007 as % of world population.
Christianity 2.0 billion 33%
Islam 1.2 billion 19.6%
Hinduism 811 million 13.4%
Chinese folk religion 385 million 6.4%
Buddhism 360 million 5.9%
The estimate is certainly out of date since there has been a lot of reports on religious conversion in recent years.One estimate puts the number of Muslims in the world as approaching 2 billion. On the other hand many Chinese are known to have adopted Christianity or Buddhism The five major as their religion. The above figures can only be accepted as indicative.
A Muslim Woman should cover everything but her face and hands
But the fact remains clear. The five major religions as shown above, especially in the case of Christianity and Islam can be broken down into various orders or sects.The total shown falls short of 100% indicating that a high percentage of the world population has been left out, probably coming under the category of "free thinkers" or atheists. The world would be in a terrible mass and hell can break lose if people cannot respect each other's religious belief and live in peace, leaving the final act of judgement to God Almighty.
We should respect the religion of others as we revere our own faith. The beliefs that underpin our religion hold the same significance as the beliefs that others hold for their religion. If that truth is appreciated much of the misunderstandings between people holding different religion can be removed. The Muslims for example cannot question why Christians pray at alters with the effigy of Lord Christ in as much as the Christians cannot question why Muslims pray five or more times a day or fast in the month of Ramadhan. Nor should both Muslims and Christians question the offerings of food and other symbols of wealth and prosperity to their ancestors as done by the Chinese. Our religion is our personal business and others should respect it just as we should respect the personal business of others.
The Human Ego is hard to control
Finally, politics should not and should never be allowed to interfere with the sanctity of or our choice of religion. If we allow political interests to dominate religious beliefs as it does in all other aspects of our life today, we will surely end up in the political melting pot as already experienced by some countries.