If we seriously believe the cliché ‘Terrorists have no religion,’ we are only fooling ourselves. It definitely is religion as understood and followed by them, that terrorists get their inspiration from. It is religion that divides and separates people who have the same ethnicity and language and eventually leads them to commit barbaric acts against their neighbours.
We are not talking here of morality and ethics which every faith pays lip service to. If that were what religion was about there would be no need for different creeds. It is the distinctions that mark and define each religion, its rituals, practices and dispensations, which are more precious to each faith.
Thus, a Muslim may incite his followers to violence, or indulge in it himself, but he still remains a pillar of the community as long as he performs ritual namaz, goes on Haj and abstains from pork. A Hindu may do likewise, but as long as he donates to temples, goes on pilgrimage, does not eat beef and holds bovine life more sacred than human, he will pass muster. A good Sikh is he who does not cut his hair, is a non-smoker and performs the Akhand Path regularly, even if, not too long ago, he indulged in hatemongering or even some bloodletting of innocents.
If there was no religious divide, terrorists from across the border would not have come to ravage Mumbai because there would have been no border to cross between two regions that were once one India. Without religion Partition, the Mumbai riots of 1993, Godhra, Gujarat 2002 and serial blasts all over the country would have not taken place.
As Steven Weinberg says, “Without religion, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.” So after ‘Islamic terrorism’ there is now ‘Hindu terrorism’, just as we once had ‘Sikh terrorism’ and Christian terrorism in Ireland. Terror is a by-product of religion. This is the evil we must fight. Denial will not get us anywhere.