Is it the time of the year, the sweltering weather or the apprehensions and the uncertainties that has been slowly but perceptibly creeping into our everyday lives like an unwelcome guest staying on for dinner that has everybody visibly agitated and on the edge? Amidst the increasingly hardening stances of the two diametrically opposing parties to the three Bills passed in the house of the state legislative assembly last year which has the frightening potential of tearing the fragile social fabric beyond repair, yet another unfortunate issue adding fuel to the increasing social tension is a video doing the rounds of the Anjuman Islahi Mua-sarrah Aim, Lilong more popularly known as Anjuman meting out punishment to a muslim lady alleged to have eloped with her lover from a different community. More than the brutal physical beatings and abuse being hurled at the cringing figure writhing in apparent agony, it is the relentless coaxing and extreme verbal instigations by the person wielding the rod, even while putting his everything into every strike he could lay on the hapless lady was abusing and denouncing the faith of the lady’s lover. The hatred and vindictiveness of the person who is obviously a religious authority, at least within the organisation is palpable. The Anjuman, by the way has already been in the eye of the storm for the death of a person who was picked up by the organisation on May 4 this year in connection with an allegation of theft. Incidentally, a video clip of the Anjuman punishing the person had gone viral in a social media site.
Faith or religion is an intensely personal matter and should remain so. Forcing one’s beliefs and pedagogy on another tantamount to coercion, and while the enforcer in the video clip can be heard threatening the lady with death as, according to him, islam sanctions various grave forms of punishment- even death- to non-believers or ‘Kafirs’, the venomous declarations and vindictive attitude caught the attention of every viewer. While it is beyond the purview of this article to argue the validity of his statements, the hatred and evident contempt he spews for another faith brings up the question of the much contended question of religious intolerance or respect for another belief. The rising religious fanaticism does not apply or is representative only of the Anjuman of course.
Rationality dictates that every religion is based on love, righteousness, discipline, sympathy, empathy and tolerance- not necessarily in that order. There has been a rising trend of instances where intolerance, ignorance, vigilantism, violence and impatience have come to manifest at the slightest provocation. Hatred, cynicism and skepticism will lead us nowhere except towards death, destruction and damnation for everyone. We need to reign in our impulses and control our urges while displaying more empathy, understanding and tolerance for the beliefs and opinions of others. There are more humane and civilized ways of ironing out differences and misunderstandings. There are already more than enough messiahs of hatred amidst us. It is time to learn to live and let others live as well.