Is Religion Really The Opium of the Masses

There is no denying that every religion of the world teaches about love, peace and unity besides various other thoughts of kindness, sharing, sacrifice and the likes. For centuries, ever since ‘Religion’ came into existence, perhaps, those are the thoughts have been taught. Even to this day these are the very elements on which religions are based, for everyone follower believes that these thoughts and beliefs keep one close to God. And this very factor has been responsible for peace and tranquillity in the world. Even as religions teach about reward for good deeds, they also teach about punishment for bad deeds, thus leading many followers to do good and make the world a better place. Considering such teachings by religion and their founders, one would believe religion as the centre and essence of peace and unity in the world; as the one element that can unite people to one source, God; as the one source from which comes all that is good and great. However, considering the world we live in today, what German philosopher Karl Marx said about religion, that “Religion is the opium of the People” just over a century ago, is the sad reality of the world today.

One need not have to point out a single example as proof of the statement but a look around in everyday life and it is written all over the wall. If India and Pakistan broke up into two different countries after independence in 1947, there is no denying that religion was the main factor. Pakistan was meant for the Muslims and India was largely for the majority of Hindus (India may claim to be Secular through its Preamble but what one sees today speak of a different story). Even since India and Pakistan became two countries, the battle (internal and external) has been eternal and one will never deny that it is all because of religion. So much so between the two countries that even cricket or hockey matches between the two sides is a form of cold war, a psychological war. And it is not just about India-Pakistan Hindu-Muslim here but also, what many believe to be, in the form of Muslim and Christians through ISIS and Europe or the United States. And of course, who can forget the inter-denomination conflicts between Sunni and Shia, both factions of the Muslim religion. Or the Protestants and the Catholics in Ireland or else were in the world? If Hitler wanted to destroy and wipe out the Jews from the surface of the world, it was as much religion as it was with economical or social factors. And the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the 2002 riots in Gujarat and what is happening in Delhi right now have been viewed as religious war or situations arising out of religious differences.

And to think we all live in a world filled with hatred and jealousy despite the teachings of the number of religions and denominations available, a hard pill to swallow indeed. As much as India claims to be a ‘Secular’ state and boast of ‘Unity in Diversity’, religion has become one the main factors dividing the people. A sense of hatred, jealousy and fear has been created, so much so that every little incident/accident is directed to religion as the cause. And so, what all went wrong with religion? Where, how and who started all these chaos based on religion? A point too deep to ponder and dig out the past for an answer. Only if everyone believed in Humanity rather than religion, it would have been a better world.

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