Books are sacred
Books are products of our culture as inexhaustible and perennial sources of human knowledge and wisdom. They are revered as gifts of knowledge goddess. We believe that they always do good to us and can never do harm to us, their readers. However, we have to read religious books with critical and rationalist eyes.
The holy scriptures, the Bible, the Koran and, to a very small extent in recent times, the Hindu scriptures have caused incalculable harm to mankind through their literalist or fundamentalist adherents’ actions.
The fundamentalists have defiled and desecrated the sacred books. They have abused the words of the scriptures as the literal voice or word of God and, to protect the sanctity of the books, killed unbelievers and other innocent citizens with the use of suicide bombs, weapons, torture, and other barbarities.
Sam Harris, the American philosopher, neuroscientist and humanist has, in his famous book, The End of Faith, listed the abuses of the religious scriptures and their gruesome effects on the world. I quote from his book extensively:
“Our past is not sacred for being past and there is much that is behind us and to which, it is hoped, we could never return with a clear conscience: the divine right of kings, feudalism, the caste system, slavery, political executions, forced castration, vivisection, bearbaiting, honorable duels, chastity belts, trial by ordeal, child labor, human and animal sacrifice, the stoning of heretics, cannibalism, sodomy laws, taboos against contraception, human radiation experiments-the list is nearly endless.”
“Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past. Recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews v.Muslims), the Balkans(Orthodox Serbians v.Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians v. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland(Protestants v.Catholics), Kashmir(Muslims v.Hindus), Sudan(Muslims v.Christians and animists), Nigeria(Muslims v.Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea(Muslims v.Christians), Sri Lanka(Sinhalese Buddhists v.Tamil Hindus), Indonesia(Muslims v.Timorese Christians) and the Caucasus(Orthodox Russians v. Chechen Muslims;Muslim Azerbaijanis v. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few cases in point. In these places, religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in the last ten years.”
“Over one million people died in the orgy of religious killing that attended the partitioning of India and Pakistan.”
In “the violence that erupted between Hindus and Muslims in India in the winter of 2002”, “Over one thousand people died in this month long series of riots-nearly half as many as have died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in more than a decade.”
Sam Harris has a striking insight into the mindset of the religious terrorist and the real source of inspiration for his mindset. The suicide bomber is relentlessly indoctrinated, has a deep interest in carrying out the literal mandate of the scripture, kills unbelievers and innocent people of his and other religions by bombing and then feels assured of his place in the paradise in his afterlife, mistaking paradise to be a fact.
Call To Violent Action
Sam Harris has quoted the pertinent extracts from the scriptures:
“If your brother, son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries to secretly seduce you, saying, ‘ Let us go and serve other gods,’ unknown to you or your ancestors before you, gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, you must not consent,you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God………(Deuteronomy 13:7-11)”
” Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate. ( Koran9.73)”
“Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous. ( Koran 9:123)”
” Jihad is your duty under any ruler, be he godly or wicked. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again(in Allah’s Cause). He who dies without having taken part in a campaign dies in a kind of unbelief.
Paradise is in the shadow of swords.
Many hadiths of this sort can be found, and Islamists regularly invoke them as a justification for attacks against infidels and apostates.”
Dangerous Support To Bigots
A sizable section of the Muslim community worldwide defends the suicide bombers’ homicidal crime in the interest of and at the command of the Islamic scriptures. We may see the survey table produced by Sam Harris in proof of this fact:
“SUICIDE BOMBING IN DEFENCE OF ISLAM
Is It Ever Justifiable?
Yes No DK/Refused
Lebanon 82 12 6
Ivory Coast 73 27 0
Nigeria 66 26 8
Jordan 65 26 8
Bangladesh 58 23 19
Mali 54 35 11
Senegal 47 50 3
Ghana 44 43 12
Indonesia 43 54 3
Uganda 40 52 8
Pakistan 38 38 23
Turkey 20 64 14″
(The relevant statistics in respect of Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, and other religious violence-infected countries are not available.)
Books Enlighten And Upgrade Us
Books are meant to be our intellectual companions. They upgrade us and do not degrade us. We have to cry an immediate halt to the religious literalist madmen’s homicidal misadventure. Human blood should not spill on to the books. Human beings adore books and worship them.
All religious books have the right to be rationally looked into, studied and embraced. They are human, and not divine, products which should not be put to torridly profane use.
Comments are welcome.