Two Sides : Religiosity and Tolerance


Maraknya isu agama, politik dan budaya beberapa waktu belakangan ini membuat saya teringat skripsi saya dulu waktu kuliah Bahasa Prancis yang mengangkat soal muticultural. Buat saya ini hal yang menarik. I have been wondering about this for awhile, and seems to be a sensitive subject. My biggest problem is how do I get beyond my bias towards my friends ‘faith’?

I have been through a similar process over the last few years. Growing up religious but I make it clear to friends/acquaintances/family that though I have no problem with their private faith, they MUST keep it to themselves, and not presume the rest of us want or need to hear about it. I make sure they know I am as offended by their open and presumptious talk of God/prayer etc. as they might be of others private habits, views or practices. I think its important to teach religious people they are entitled to their views, but are not entitled to presume others want to hear them.

Faith cannot be proven. If it could be, it wouldn’t be faith. What we muslims hold is that because of faith we find light and hope in a world where otherwise there might not be any. I don’t think that’s a bad or foolish thing.

I wrestle with this all the time. It is easy to be judgemental about what they believe, especially when they try to convert you. I ask them to respect my beliefs as I respect theirs, then I don’t think about their beliefs unless I am confronted with them. We are all full of blind faith. The only thing that matters to me in my friendships, is people’s values whether they come to them via religion, politics or culture, and how they choose to interpret and practice them. In other words, what they do. This includes how tolerant and respectful they are of my values and beliefs.

Perhaps we have forgotten that not all people of a group believe the same thing.. There are millions upon millions of Muslims all around the world. Do you really think they all believe exactly the same thing?

It’s very dangerous to believe that we know what lies in someone’s deepest being based on a label. I think that’s called prejudice. Many, many people in this world are trying to understand how it all fits together. Just because some people don’t believe what you do, doesn’t mean they are brainwashed or stupid.

How can I get beyond my bias? Talk to my friends; listen to my friends. Find out what their beliefs are and remember that we can still be friends even with different faiths and beliefs. Indeed, the news every day shows that we need more people who can be friends despite differences. Become a bridge not a barbed wire fence.

I also think that religious people have been duped and that all religions are cults, but I also believe that religion is adaptive in that it helps people survive in our unpredictable and sometimes cruel world. Religion helped our ancestors to survive and cope. I think that religion is easy and comforting for people, and that it is so enticing because of how our brains are constructed, so I try to give my religious friends a break. I mostly don’t talk about religion with my religious friends, but it can be tough. If you really value your friendships with your religious friends, I say try to not talk with them about it and let it go. If it really bothers me and gets in the way of socializing with my friends, I try to expand my social circle to others who believe like I do. The best we can do is socialize with our own sometimes for comfort and understanding, and to be tolerant of others, and to avoid religious conversations when they make us uncomfortable. Respectfully disagree with their respective religious beliefs. And that is how it should be….Tolerance is a good thing.

By all means, talk to our friends one on one! Ask them why they believe what they believe. Tell them what we believe and why. Tell them how we think it is affecting the friendship. It would be sad to see a friendship lost without at least this much effort made.

My focus to be HAPPY for my friends that they have a religion that works for them. And I focus on the things we can share, and do my best to be supportive of THEIR choice for their life.

I guess that religion is like any other belief — political leanings, philosophies for raising kids, etc. My friends have their reasons. I have mine for my beliefs. I guess that I am saying that every opinion is worthy of respect if it can be discussed intellectually (trust me, religion can be discussed intellectually by many people) or if a person is willing to admit, ”I know it seems irrational, but it is just what I believe.”

Religion is not a rational concept. Science cannot prove or disprove God. I’m a rationalist in life, but a ”religionist” in my soul.


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