Religious fundamentalism and fundamentalism are probably the two most commonly used and yet the most ambiguously defined terms today. The boundaries between the two are often blurred and any act of violence is easily labelled as either religious fundamentalism or terrorism; to the extent that one may deem the two synonymous. It is clear from the HT-MaRS Youth Survey 2016: Almost 37% of India’s youth put ‘terrorism’ as the biggest challenge in the world today; compared to it, only 8% identified ‘religious fundamentalism’ as the culprit. Delve deeper, and most would relate terrorism with one religious extremist outfit or another, making it obvious that the two are the same in the minds of the young.
Terrorism is multifaceted: It includes reasons that may be religious, sociological, criminal or political in nature. The motivations behind acts of terror are equally diverse. Often, they stem from the failure of socio-political machinery in a state; which then uses religion to lend itself legitimacy. Religion, owing to the central position it occupies, is the most powerful means of translating socio-political conflict into that of terrorism on a larger scale.
Having accepted this premise, religious fundamentalism appears to be more of the root cause; and terrorism, the symptom of what is ailing the world at large today. Religious fundamentalism is merely a retreat to the refuge of long upheld ‘ancient truth’ and ‘moral commandment’ which, mostly, is not grounded in reason. Such sentiment, when exploited to fulfill ignoble ends, is more difficult to oppose than sentiments rooted in logic or those open to debate. Religious fundamentalism may well be understood as a cage built of rigid beliefs which one finds difficult to escape. It fosters a closeted mind and narrows one’s ability to see reason. The effects manifest in various ways. On the one hand, it hinders the expansion of one’s own horizon of thinking, and on the other, opposes progress in fields of science. Religious fundamentalism appeals to a static view of reality and does not leave room for accepting change, diversity and evolution. It is, without doubt, the biggest challenge facing the world today.
In sum, it is high time one looked away from the mere symptom and delved deeper into the major challenge facing the world today; which is religious fundamentalism or we all risk losing the vision of the modern global society that the young generation so deserves.
Hiba Khair, an economics graduate and an MBA in Finance, has worked as a business analyst for a leading bank. She gave it all up to set up her own business by the name of JAAMA, designing and selling women’s apparel, thereby generating employment for the marginalised sections of the community.
Read more stories from HT MaRS Youth Survey here.
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