All criticisms against religion are not offensive

All criticisms against religion are not offensive

All criticisms against religion are not offensive

“Anger and Intolerance are enemies of correct understanding” - Mahatma Gandhi

‘Passionate’. Passionate is the word you may use to describe your sentiments regarding your nation or religion. But many a times ‘passionate’ is not the exact description of the way we react. Nowadays, mostly we are passing ‘intolerance’ under the name of ‘passion’. This intolerance takes various forms like intolerance of religions, intolerance of gender, intolerance of criticisms and sometimes even intolerance of others’ existence (what Nazis did to the Jews)! And some even go berserk with their radicalism and overreact for simplest of things. Recently, Sonu Nigam was targeted for his comment on loudspeakers used during Azaan. Sonu Nigam had tweeted that loudspeakers should not be used for Azaan. So, was the criticism really offensive? Were the reactions pouring in intolerant or just passionate and apt?

We are not intolerant; just passionate

1. We are proud of our religion and culture - We are not being intolerant but we are just proud of our religion. Any baseless and non-conforming allegations or criticisms are nothing but insults.

2. We reacted similarly to Snapchat CEO Comment - We also reacted in a similar manner when SnapChat CEO commented on poverty in India. If it was called passionate at that time, it is passionate even when we reacted to Sonu Nigam’s comment.

3. Few do not reflect everyone’s opinion - There are always a few people who will overreact and cause mayhem. But that does not mean that entire nation or the entire group is intolerant.

4. We have right to express dissatisfaction - If some person has right to express his/her dissatisfaction, then we all too have every right to express our dissatisfaction against others’ opinions. We too have freedom of speech.

5. Our opinions are considered radicalism - Many a times, if we oppose anyone strongly we are termed radicals or orthodox or strongly religious. We too can have strong and firm opinions and ways to express our passionate feelings without being radicals. Few radicals do not represent the entire group.

We almost always overreact and pass judgment

1. We overreact and there are many examples of it - It has been seen many times that we simply overreact. Few years back Shahrukh and Amir Khan were called supporters of Pakistan and were asked to leave India because of their opinions on some issues. Recently a fatwa was issued against Sonu Nigam by a Muslim Maulvi for his comment on use of loudspeakers during Azaan.

2. We always misunderstand the issue - Sonu Nigam’s comment on use of loudspeakers is one of the recent examples of this. The issue of loudspeakers in temples, mosques, gurudwaras, etc. was not discussed, but on the contrary Sonu Nigam was thrashed on social media for his comment and was termed anti-Muslim and proponent of Hindutva. We are very quick to judge others.

3. Not all comments are offensive - Religion is a very sensitive topic in India and almost the entire world and any discussion on it always somehow ends with shouting and fighting. Religion can be criticized for the things it does wrong and not all the criticisms are offensive. We must learn to understand difference between criticism and insult.

4. Everyone has right to express oneself - We know that everyone has the freedom of speech and right to express his/her opinion. This same applies to the topic of religion and a person can voice his/her view on religion.

5. We never discuss religion and consider it sacred - Constructive criticism is always helpful and assists in improvement. We consider religion sacred and refuse to bring changes in it to bring it in-tune with modern times. This leads to clashes between religion and today’s lifestyle which is not tolerated by us and we give immediate reactions which fuels a fight.

Time and again our intolerance of criticism of religion has come to the fore front. We all must realize that just like we have our health, wealth, etc. religion too is a part of life and is subject to criticism. If one’s religion is causing problems to others, then those affected have a right to express disaffection in a civilized manner. Also everyone can express their dissatisfaction to comments and views of others. Being passionate about something is not wrong, but giving knee-jerk reactions and going overboard with them is crossing the lines. What we primarily need is the ability to understand what the exact issue is, before giving any kind of reaction. And when reacting, we must realize that others can have difference of opinions and we must respect them too.
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