Maria Wirth is a German and came to India for a holiday after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. She visited the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980 where she met Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba, two renowned saints. With their blessing shecontinued to live in India and dived into India’s spiritual tradition, sharing her insights with German readers through articles and books. For long, she was convinced that every Indian knows and treasures his great heritage. However, when in recent years, she noticed that there seemed to be a concerted effort to prevent Indians (and the world) from knowing how valuable this ancient Indian heritage is, she started to point out the unique value of Indian tradition.
The fear of lone wolf attacks has changed the atmosphere in Europe. Especially women feel insecure while walking alone, but even men are not keen to go out alone at night. The security business is booming. Pepper sprays and other articles for self-defense are sold out. More security, more police is seen as the solution to a problem which unfortunately is not well analyzed.
On a memorial for the victims of the recent terror attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, where the German Chancellor, too, placed a white rose, a board asked in big letters: “Warum?” This “Why” naturally haunts good natured, naive Germans who welcomed the refugees and volunteered in refugee shelters.
Yet, inexcusably, this ‘Why’ also seems to haunt many of the political class. Chancellor Merkel considered the attack as incomprehensible. It seems she and her government have no clue why certain people turn against their hosts when they had been so generous. So how can they defeat Islamist terrorism when they don’t know what motivates the terrorists?
For the last few decades, Europeans in particular have been sold a wonderful world, where we all live happily together as global citizens irrespective of race, gender, religion and nationality. Sweden was in the forefront. In a TV clip, children from Sweden, Africa and Asia sang a song about how Sweden belongs to all of them and how wonderful it is to love each other, merrily dancing around holding hands.
No doubt, a ‘liberal world order’, where all human beings irrespective of differences are respected, is a worthy idea. Donald Trump has been demonized for not endorsing it and is seen as the greatest danger to it. Angela Merkel reminded him, perhaps a bit too self-righteously, of those liberal values when she congratulated him for winning the US election.
Yet, whoever has eyes to see knows that the reality is the stark opposite of a wonderful, liberal world, not only in Sweden. The huge influx of ‘refugees’ did not make things better for Europe, as was heralded. It made things infinitely worse. And since the situation has meanwhile gone so much out of hand with crime rates sky-rocketing and the fear of terror attacks all-pervasive, the liberal elite feel compelled to explain what went wrong. The problem is, they are dishonest – or plain ignorant.
They explain: the new world order does not come about without a “cultural change”. Yet instead of embracing multi-culturalism, the natives of a place resist it. They wrongly are suspicious of ‘the other’. They want to stick to their old way of life and therefore we have a big problem now: the nationalist right-wing is on the upswing. This, we are told, is extremely unfortunate.
They don’t call it only unfortunate. They label right-wingers as fascist, Nazi, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and openly spew hatred against them, all the while claiming that they, the ‘liberals’, only want all to love each other.
If someone asks whether the newcomers to Europe even want a liberal world, he is shouted down. Never blame the migrants, is the maxim, and never ever claim that religion may be a cause why happily living together won’t work. To be precise: never mention Islam. One can criticize Christianity nowadays and malign Hinduism, but Islam is out-of-bounds. To bring in Islam as a possible cause for friction is forbidden, so much so that there is a risk of ending up in jail in our ‘liberal’ societies.
Why is it so? Why do liberals close their eyes to the fact that Islam is not liberal? Neither is Christianity. Nor do these two religions hide it. Both insist that their followers must ‘religiously’ stick to the doctrine if they don’t want to burn in hell for ever.
Now, how to establish a liberal world when about half the world population is indoctrinated to believe that all humanity needs to follow a particular book before peace can descend on earth? It is even more complicated: about a quarter is told that God wants all to follow the Bible and Jesus, and another quarter is told that Allah wants all to follow the Quran and Mohammed.
Whether Jesus or Mohammed had intended this narrow-minded interpretation is not the question. It is also not the question whether there are verses in those books which contradict this narrow view. The problem is that this narrow interpretation is indoctrinated since over thousand years and even today into children with terrible effect and nobody stops it.
Wolfgang Trusheim, of Frankfurt’s State Security office, gives a worrying account:
‘This is about war, about children being indoctrinated. They are only in primary school and already fantasize about how when they grow up, they want to join the jihad, kill infidels. They say: “I’m not allowed to play football with you, but when I’m grown up, I will kill you, because you are an infidel.”’ (see gatestone link below)
On YouTube there was a clip about a religious class for Muslim boys in a German school. The teacher spoke in broken German and kept repeating to the 6 to 10 year olds that they must not make friends with German boys, as those boys are bad and will be send to hell by Allah.
Is it then a surprise that a 12 year old boy tried to plant a bomb in a Christmas market in southern Germany? The question is: Can he be blamed for wanting to kill kafirs? And if he can’t be blamed, can he be blamed when he is 17 or 20?
How are children supposed to get out of the brainwashing when their surrounding endorses the claim that Allah only likes Muslims, does not like kafir and will make them suffer in hell for all eternity? When even respected leaders, like the first education minister in independent India Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, had exhorted Muslims to join jihad for a pan-Islamic Caliphate, have obviously not got out of their own brainwashing? And most importantly, when the Muslim youth has serious doubts whether he will qualify for paradise and wants to make sure that he ends up there and not in hellfire?
A very crucial tenet of both Islam and Christianity is that a human being has only one life. Belief in rebirth was banned for Christians in a Council in 553 AD even before Islam was born. This “one life only” has an advantage for those religions: the fear of eternal hell prevents their followers from relaxing and experimenting. And both religions make sure that the fear of hell seeps deeply into the psyche of children. Hindus and others who did not go through this indoctrination can’t imagine that the fear of hell can be real, but it is. “What if eternal hell is true after all?” This question often haunts lukewarm Christians and probably also Muslims and makes their life miserable and guilt-ridden.
Even moderate sounding outfits like the ‘Centre for Peace and Spirituality’ founded by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan preach this basic tenet (on the back cover of the book “Quranic wisdom”):
“According to the Quran, a person’s life has been divided into two phases: the pre-death and the post-death period. The present life is only temporary and is meant as a test. Depending upon our performance in this test, we shall be judged in the eternal life after death. The Quran aims to make one aware of this reality and help one lead one’s life in this world in such a way that one is rewarded with Paradise in the life hereafter.”
Reading the Quran one gets clearly the impression that paradise is only for true Muslims, not for the hypocrites among them and of course not for kafirs. And what is expected from a true Muslim? Apart from being good to other Muslims (and harsh to unbelievers) and following the rules, jihad is the surest way to paradise. A jihadi is even promised a higher status in paradise (Quran 4.95). Is it a surprise that especially criminals join jihad to ‘redeem’ themselves? Should they be called monsters or should they be congratulated for fulfilling what they (wrongly) understand as the Supreme Being’s wish?
Clearly, something has been very badly misunderstood. Killing cannot possibly be rewarded by the Supreme who is the creator, if not the essence, in all of us. Is it not the responsibility of elders to point this out and save not only the potential victims of future terror attacks but also the Muslim youth?
Especially Hindus and Buddhists need to challenge this wrong understanding. How can they ‘respect’ it only because ‘religion’ is attached to it? Why are Christianity and Islam treated like protected species and must not be touched?
There is a reason: Ever since dogmatic religions (from Latin ‘to bind’) appeared, which insist on binding all humanity to unverifiable dogmas, criticism was violently punished for centuries. Today criticism is sought to be stopped in a more civilised way – through laws about freedom of religion, guaranteed by an UN Charter.
Yet what does the right to religious freedom actually mean? Does it mean the right to Islamize the world? Does it mean the right to Christianize the world? Do Hindus have the right to stay Hindus? If the right to freedom of religion is given to a religion which has as its final goal the obliteration of all other religions, like Christianity and Islam have, would it not obliterate the rights of other religions?
Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) requires outlawing “any advocacy of … religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence.”
Further, article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), grants the freedom of speech with the restriction, among others, “for the protection of the reputation and rights of others.”
These laws are violated on a daily basis in religious classes all over the world, yet the focus of law enforcement agencies is on social media posts and overlooks the far greater danger.
Does it protect the ‘reputation of others’ when a clergyman tells children that their classmates from other religions will burn in hell after Judgement Day? Is the clergyman free to make such discriminatory statements, because religious freedom is guaranteed and his holy book makes those claims? Is it necessary to respect the claim that a book has been divinely revealed even if it contains what would be called hate speech? Since there are several books from different religions which all claim to be the divinely revealed truth and which contradict each other, how can those claims be taken at face value and be protected by law? Should there not be a genuine, open-minded debate on what actually constitutes truth?
Many questions, which hardly anyone asks – not even those who framed the right on religious freedom in international bodies like the UN.
We are faced with a big problem which is due to divergent and implausible religious views. A young jihadi is convinced that killing kafirs is the right thing to do as it pleases Allah who wants only Muslims in the world.
And a young Christian missionary is convinced that ‘bringing the light of Christ to those who wallow in darkness’ by hook or crook is the right thing to do, as Jesus wanted all people baptised.
Yet ultimately, both, the jihadi and the missionary are pawns in a cynical power game. They are convenient foot soldiers. Did not the USA of all countries encourage students (Taliban) to become radical Islamists by developing religious curricula and sending schoolbooks with violent content to Afghanistan? Why? Because they wanted them to fight the Soviets ferociously as a holy war – in their own (USA) interest of course. (see link to Washington Post).
Once children are ‘taught’ the wrong truth, it is not easy to get it out from their system even when they are grown up. Their identity is intimately connected with what they believe, and reason often cannot break through their natural impulse to defend their identity especially when the people in their surroundings share the same belief.
It needs an open environment, where questions can be asked fearlessly, where sensible answers are given and where holy books are not untouchable holy cows. This atmosphere is partly there for Christianity in the west, but is sorely missing in regard to Islam.
A good start would be a debate on whether there is only one life or whether rebirth is more likely. Why is there obvious injustice in the world? Why are some born to caring parents and others to abusive drunkards? If the Supreme Being really wanted all to be Christians or Muslims, why would He give to some the advantage of being born in a Christian or Muslim family and to others not? How can the creator (or is he the essence?) of all be so cruel to damn us to excruciating pain in hellfire for billion trillion… years after a few years of life where our only fault was that we called out to the Supreme by a different name, but in our heart we were great believers?
Those who believe (or do they know?) in rebirth have the better arguments. Research into rebirth, with over 3000 cases in the archive of Virginia University, also supports the Hindu view that everybody gets many lives on this appearance level of human existence. (see link)
Humanity would gain greatly if such topics would be debated in an open atmosphere. Truth would be honoured. Trust in ‘the other’ would come back. A liberal, plural world would be possible.
Only some hard-line clerics might lose out. Yet the ‘liberals’ in the media with their soft corner for illiberal ideologies would probably rush to their defence…
By Maria Wirth