In 1971 John Lennon released the song “Imagine” where he described a “perfect” world where there are no counties or religions to separate people.
“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace”
So as a tribute to the late Mr. Lennon I ask this question; imagine a world where people actually follow their religion. They stand for the laws and the commandments their saints, prophets, and gurus founded. Every religion I have encountered in my life has shared the same basic principles of peace, love, being honest, being faithful, doing charity work, taking care of the weak and sick. Most religions define the attributes that makes a good person.
Yesterday I spent the day with one of my good friends and her children. She is a devout head covering Muslim women. I am a proud Christian married to a Proud Sikh. We spent the entire day talking about everything from food, to parenting, to religion. As we shared with each other our customs, beliefs and traditions we realized that we agreed on so much. Here three separate religions from across the word all united under the same basic principles. Yes we have different names for God, we pray in different languages, and we worship in different ways. The reality is despite our difference we are quite similar. We raise our children in the same manner, we have similar views on women’s right, we share the same passion for helping people, and we have similar moral codes that guide our actions. Honestly I see more similarities than differences.
The conflict occurs when humans distort the word of God. Al-Qaeda does not represent the true nature of Islam, but it’s what we hear about on the news. Just as the Westboro Baptist Church does not represent Christianity, but they make themselves heard louder than other churches. The corruption of the word of God is what causes the conflict between people.
Imagine a world where all these people did what their religion preached!
It really frustrates me when people do not up hold the basic principles of their religion and thus give their religion a bad name. Many people pick and choose what they want to follow, and use religious passages to simply support what they want and ignore other parts. They use religion as an excuse to hate, to cause violence, to exclude, and to have power over other people. The basic concept of every religion is peace and respect for life!
The song Imagine was popular because it touched people! It asked the fundamental question that many are so afraid to ask. Imagine a world without dividing lines. No countries to die for or religion to fight about. It’s an interesting, though unrealistic concept.
The amount of people who have died simply because they were a different religion or of a different nationality or even a different sect of the same religion is astounding and honestly heart breaking. The number cannot even be computed because its so high. Centuries of killing! Most wars in the past have occurred because one country attacked another. Today most of the violence around the world is occurring within countries between different religions, political ideologies, or ethnicity.
On September 11th, 2001 a day I will always remember, 2,996 people died during tourist attacks on the United States by members of Al-Qaeda. This group of radicals decided that the lives of these people were worth nothing. They sacrificed these innocent people to make a political and religious point and to cause terror. They claimed it was a Jihaad ( holy war) that was granted by the Quran. “Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allaah is well able to assist them.” [Quran 22: 39]. The Quran also states that you should not take a life without cause. “Nor take life — which Allaah has made sacred — except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand retaliation or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life, for he is helped (by the Law).” [Quran 17:33]. Al-Qaeda argued that the United States because of their foreign influence was an attack on Islam. The attack on 9/11 was supposed to be a Holy war against the United States.
In actuality in Islam, it is never permissible to attack or kill non-combatant enemy citizens, children, elderly, or women. Non-Muslims not waging war against Muslims possess a right to life, according to the Quran. In fact, the Quran enjoins forgiveness, tolerance, and kindness toward Non-Muslims. Abu Bakr one the closest people to the prophet Muhammad said “I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the war booty, and do not be cowardly.” Christians during the crusades never showed such mercy, as was shown by Muslims at this time.
The attacks on September 11th as well as other attacks around the world by these terror groups go completely against the whole nature of Islam. A Jihad is against someone attacking you, not innocent people. As a result Islam and the people following this beautiful faith have faced many hate crimes and prejudice in the United and other countries. Hundreds of people have been attacked in the United States for just being Muslim. Al-Qaeda and extremists like them have tainted the image of Islam to people who are not educated on the religion. People become afraid when a see someone who appears to be Muslim because they associate it with terrorism. There are many who think Islam is a religion of hate, when in fact it is a religion of peace and love. Imagine if the news channels focused on the beauty of Islam, do you think there would be as much hate! Imagine instead of hearing “Islamic terrorist” on the news every week, we instead hear Islamic volunteers/Islamic doctors/Islamic charities! Why shine the media light only on a very small group of extremists and cause mass panic and fear of the entire Islamic population! What the media has done is absolutely criminal.
This problem affects all religions. I am a proud Christian. I faithfully believe in Christ! Sadly there are times I am embarrassed by people claiming to be Christians. There is a disgusting group in the United States called the Westboro Baptist Church. Who dedicates its time and resources to harassing people who are gay or follow another faith. They pretty much attack anyone that is not like them. They are known for protesting at funerals of homosexual individuals and military members. They are known for holding up disgusting signs often claiming that people are going to hell. Other signs say that God caused hurricane Katrina and September 11th because of the United States liberal laws on gay rights. The Westboro group is the most extreme, but I have been to church after church with people that share that same hate. That same feeling of judgment and superiority. Jesus preached love. Jesus preached acceptance and forgiveness. Jesus ate with prostitutes and talked with non-believers. Jesus even forgave the people that brutally killed him. He loved and forgave everyone! You would have never seen Jesus hold a sign saying “ all fags must die”! This is not like Christ! And yet these people call themselves Christians! This is what makes me mad. Be hateful if you want, but do not claim to be Christian while doing it. In my heart I know that Jesus would be enraged over what these groups do. Just as Jesus was enraged and turned over the tables of the merchants corrupting the temple by using it as a place of commerce. I can imagine him being angered over these hateful people using his name for evil!
These hate groups and these churches full of judgment do not represent Jesus or Christianity. These people pick and choose scripture to fit the message they want to send. They quote Leviticus for anti-homosexual passages that condemn a man that lays with a man to death, but then ignores other passages. There are tons of passages most people do not follow. For example no round haircuts or bull cuts “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.”( Leviticus 19:27 ) , but I see plenty of kids with this haircut. The bible prohibits wearing fabric blends or polyesters “nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” (Leviticus 19:19). The biggest and most clear issue that is often ignored is divorce! Jesus spells that one out in black and white and yet over half of marriages in the USA end in divorce! ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.'”
Imagine a world where people stopped judging each other and instead forgive. Imagine a world where we bring people together instead of ostracizing those that are different! Imagine a world where everyone who claimed to be Christian actually emulated Christ!
My husband is a Sikh. Sikhs fundamentally believe in equality of all people, religions, ethnicities, and gender. Sadly there are many Sikhs who tie the turban but do not live the teachings of the Gurus. Instead they point fingers at people who cut their hair and do not tie turbans saying those people have lost their faith . I have seen these people go against everything else that Sikhism stand for. I have seen these “Sikhs” that tie turbans who are cruel to other people. Who looks down at their servants and treat them badly even though the gurus explained that we all equal under God.
One of the biggest issues I have is when Sikhs ignore the basic principles of women being equal to men. When I found out I was pregnant with a girl I had been told by a baptized “Sikh” that my daughter was a curse. They said that they prayed I would have a boy next. Sadly in many Sikh families girls are not valued in many households. True Sikhs value both men and women equally and not prefer one over the other. One of the worse issues to plagues India, especially Punjab is the occurrences of femicide. This is when the gender of the fetus is identified through ultra sound and then aborted if the child if is female. As a result ultrasounds to determine gender is illegal in India. Sadly this has not stopped people from bribing Drs. sto still find out the gender.
Most femicide goes unreported for obvious reasons, so statistics are hard to get. Male to female birth ratios are the best indicators of gender based abortion rates. The ratio of boy vs. girl babies born is growing in India, especially in the state of Punjab. Naturally in the world there is slightly more boys born than girls born every year. Around 104 boys are born vs. 100 girls born each year, this is without gender manipulations. In 2012 in Punjab 117 boys per 100 girls were born. This may not seem like a lot of difference. There 27.98 million people in the Indian State of Punjab alone. 54,000 children are born every year in Punjab. If you compare the normal gender ratio that occurs in nature, versus the gender ratio that occurs in Punjab due to gender based abortions you really see the effects. I found the results to be disgusting and heart breaking. Approximately 15,858 baby girls are aborted every year in Punjab simply because they are female! That is 43 baby girls that are killed every day in Punjab! This is just in the state of Punjab and not the entire country! Punjab is the birth place of Sikhism, and yet this place has so much senseless killing! Its disgusting to me! This goes against everything Sikhism stands for! Imagine how the Gurus would respond to this sickening trend!
There are many Sikhs that follow the religion as they should. These people are beautiful wonderful godly people. Sadly there are some that claim to be Sikh and commit these horrible acts. There is more to Sikhism than tying a turban. Sikhism is one of the most beautiful religions I have ever encountered. Imagine a world where the dreams of the gurus come true. Where all people are treated equal! Where all people are safe from violence and fear. Imagine a world where all Sikhs aimed to be Sikhs in their appearances, actions, and thoughts!
John Lennon thought that the world would be better without religion, but I disagree. I think religion is beautiful. It inspires, it gives people purpose, and it drives people to do good acts. I could not live my life without my faith. I would feel lost without God in my life! My dream is for the world to see the beauty of their religion and to fully understand it. I dream of the day when people see the beauty of other people’s religions. For people to see the similarities more than the difference. For the media to show the beauty of all the religions instead of the hate!
Imagine a world where everyone follows their religion, instead of pretending to do so and just claiming it like a title. What would the world look like? I imagine a beautiful place where we all live in peace. As the late John Lennon said,
“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”