The vicious and violent incidents in Sydney and Peshawar this week clearly demonstrate the cruel and ugly character of the people responsible for the incidents. A lone gunman takes 17 people hostage in a café in Sydney. The gun man has always portrayed himself as a man of religion. In Peshawar the Taliban killed 132 school children. They broke into a school run by the military and they ruthlessly fired shots at the children. The Taliban claim they practice a strict form of Islam. Religion inspired and religion focussed, the members of the Taliban consider themselves to be holier than anyone else. I am deeply perturbed for how, indeed, can anyone be holy and religious if one can take the lives of innocent schoolchildren?

Why do people call themselves religious when they undertake barbaric and inhuman practice? Why do people believe that they are religious when they hurt others? Can one call oneself religious if all that one does is to be vicious and mean to others? As the writer, Feisal Abdul Rauf said,
“The truth is that killing innocent people is always wrong – and no argument or excuse, no matter how deeply believed, can ever make it right. No religion on earth condones the killing of innocent people; no faith tradition tolerates the random killing of our brothers and sisters on this earth.” What indeed is the purpose of religion?

Morals and Virtues

I have always been of the view that religion teaches one to behave in a moral and virtuous manner. One is encouraged by religion to be honest, to be truthful, to practice non-violence, to be of service to others, to give and to love. You inculcate these virtues and you live a life of harmony and peace. You undertake deeds of kindness and you help others, particularly the weak and the vulnerable, the poor and the destitute, the handicapped and the sick so that their life is more bearable.

Here is a quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel:

“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair”

Secure and Emotionally Stable

You give to others your time and your money. You become charitable and benevolent. In doing this, you become a more humane person. Religion makes you think of others and not just of yourself. The religious person feels calm and secure in a world fraught with uncertainties and problems. He or she is able to cope with his or her problems. Such a person would be at peace with the world, with other people and with himself or herself. This person would also be emotionally stable. A person who is at peace with others and who is emotionally stable would not behave like the Taliban, ISIS and the Boko Haram. The Taliban, ISIS and the Boko Haram members violently kill others and commit criminal acts of terror. Is this behaviour religious?

What kind of a person would go into a school and fire bullets into the bodies of young children? Is this a religious person or is this a mentally insecure and emotionally unstable person who has been trained to be insensitive and brutal?

Helping Others

Every religion of this world promotes the concept of service to others. People give their money to help others. Many charities have been formed for the purpose of improving the lives of the less fortunate. People give to charities and during times of crisis they immediately give money and items like clothing and food. People cooperate with each other and this makes for a better world. Looking at the groups like the Taliban, ISIS and Boko Haram they do nothing to help others and they fail to cooperate to help create a better world. Instead they are bent on destruction, violence and pain.


To me the truly religious person is the one who practices tolerance. A tolerant person is able to live with others who practice other religions. People who think that their religion is the right and correct one and that others are wrong are not just intolerant but also immature. The truly religious person accepts other religions. He or she is graceful about this. As George Santayana said:
“Religion in its humility restores man to his only dignity, the courage to live by

It is sad that there are many people out there who believe that their religion is the right one and they will go to great lengths to try and convert you to theirs. Then there are others who believe that it is their duty to save you from the demons and they will insist on praying for you.

Holier Than Thou

What indeed makes someone believe that he or she is holy and doing the right thing? Have you noticed that if you do not conform to their standards then they will look down on you? Why are people so arrogant and what gives them the right to think they are more religious than you? Is religion just following rituals and using the right clothes? Or is being religious about doing good, helping others and being kind?

If religion promotes and teaches what I have described above than for sure, groups like the Taliban, ISIS and Bunko Haram are not practising religion in the true sense of the word. No religion promotes cruelty, barbarism, intolerance, arrogance, violence and hate, all of which are practiced by the Taliban, ISIS and Boko Haram.

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