We find ourselves in a world that is increasing becoming intolerant. If we had an opportunity to talk to our grandparents, we might have discovered their world to be more tolerant than ours. Today, we have people perdicting the doomsday scenario, no matter what religious/social/philosophical thinking they might have. Conflicts are increasing globally -- the Arab-Israeli conflict has exploded recently and is spilling over to neighbouring countries and the populations in diaspora globally, creating security issues even in countries which are considered tolerant. We need to understand this phenonmenon holistically at a deep level and come up with a solution that will turn this threat of today to the golden opportunity for our global population, no matter what our beliefs.
If we consider religion, it might have various definitions, but we choose to define it as a set of beliefs and way of living which would help us fully develop our human potential naturally. Every religious tradtion or social philosophy whether traditional or secular is motivated for such positive ends. If some people follow a different paradigm, that would lead to negativity, criminal or in religious parlance purely evil or Satanic behaviour which positive people want to shun universally. It is from such understanding of relgion that we have such contemporary famous personaliteis as the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Mahatama Gandhi, Albert Einstein, or Muhammad Ali Clay who while imbibing and living their faith fully had compassion for all humanity. Whereas the prophets, mmessengers, teachers, spirtual guides sent by God to different communities of the world throughout history also taught them to develop themseves, while loving everyone despite their persobal beliefs. The consitituion of great nation states especially that of the New World like the United States and Canada are based on the same basic ideals as are the Rights of Man. This motivation is universal to humanity.
Yet when we talk about religion today, it is associated with intolerance in our secular world due to our misunderstanding of the function of religion. Our history is plagued with religious wars, some being very bloody, so much so that we now associate religion with violence, oppression, and intolerance, whereas this is not so as we have explained earlier. So how can we explain this contradictory facets of religion. If we consider the Crusades, which were a series of military campaigns in which Christian volunteer armies from various states were motivated to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims and lasted a long time. The army volunteers were generally motivated by their faith, as too were the defenders. Nevertheless, we find the paragon of their ideals in their leaders, i.e. Richard the Lionheart and Salahudeen Al Ayubi, who while imibing and living their respective faiths, were ideological opponent, but nevertheless were legendary in their kind and chivalrous treatment of each other. Thus, we see that deep understanding and practice of faith, produces the ultimate ascension in spirtuality in man to fulfil his destined status a God's viceregent and best of His creation, whereas less knowledge and practice of faith produces followers, who might carry out actions, in a manner not enshrined in their faith, if they are not led by true and responsible leadership.
Having established the concept of relgion, we now need to understand it in the context of today's world to better understand why we are precipitating towards global intolerance in the name of religion, even though the esssence of our faiths teach its opposite. The secularization of Europe after the Dark Ages, started after the European Enlightenment, by the works of philosophers -- many of whom had studied in universities in the Muslim world or the works of Muslim scholars from the Golden Age who had reconciled fatih with science -- could not reconcile the then Church doctrine to the development of knowledge, as the religion -- as they knew it -- was not based on reason, but on blind faith, although this is not universally true for all relgions. Thus we find ourselves in a world which has benefited from scientific developmenet, the industrial revolution and its fruits, though in an unbalanced manner, with the spiritual dimension being ignored. The results of this methodology were tremendous, and the pace was quick, although the results were not natural or balanced, which resulted in us deviating from our nature, while developing in more material or tangible ways, resulting in the domination of Eurpean civilization, culture, and secular ideas globally through colonisation/neocolonoism in the third world, and subjugation of native populations and enslaving Africans and its legacy in the new world. The propagation of these ideas as a solution to world problems is systematically carried out with good faith without understanding consequences which have led to tremendous ethical, social, economic, political, and environmental problems that we find "unsolvable" with our current way of thinking. We are only now coming to realize the gravity of our actions, e.g. we realize what we are doing with our environment, how we destroyed native cultures, our mistakes in forcibly implementing our agenda in other countries politically, the inherent injustice in our economic systems, our inability to practically live up the human rights ideals which we theoretically cherish, our inability to reconcile the spritual with the mundane in a meaningful manner, etc.
The true practice of no monotheistic Abrahamic relgion, whether Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, a polytheistic faith based on scriptures like Hinduism, Zorastianism, etc; a traditional social philosophy like Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, etc.; a man inspired faith based on learning and self development like Sikhism; or any positive secular philosophy teaches hate, oppression, or intolerance towards others, yet this is what we are heading towards in the context of the present secular world in which many people have only a mediocre undestanding and practice of their faith and perhaps a mediocre understanding of the world we live in today, unlike those contemporary successsful people who practice their faith well and love humanity who we named above and many like them we may not know about. It is important to be very careful in our actions and words to capitalize of this opportunity to make it the best for everyone as well as complete natural development of every aspect of our life (scientific, work related, health, social, economic, political, environmental, etc.). We need to STOP, and take stock of where we are and if we want to really do something positive which all faiths and positive ideologies enjoin. If we do not do so, intolerance will blow up and we might self-desturct due to our collective ignorance and lack of self control.
Let us put aside our idea of which religion/philosophy is the most optimum for the global village we live in and let us stop forcing it on anyone. If we realize any truth in the analysis of our situation we have outlined above, then we also realize the solution needs a lot of deliberation and hard work to re-establish the balance in our way of thinking and behaving. Every religion/philosohphical way of life has elements of this balance which is being stripped away from our individual civilizations as we were becoming a global secular civilization (a global village). Samuel Huntington had written about the competition of disparate world civilizations in the late 1990s/early 2000s, but we are at a later stage now. We are at the stage of synergy and mutual cooperation is a global human civilization which has realized the need to balance their development to the natural way when we face the catasthropes due to centuries of unnatural development and its forcible propagation globally by the dominant civilization.
In order to avoid the doomsday scenrio or Armadeggon, we have to become responsible globally, realizing that if we get it right, we can ascend together as humanity to our full potential, otherise we might all self destruct. We also need to realize that this balancing might take a lot of time and effort, so if we try to rush things we will spoil it. We need to deliberate on it and focus on doing the right thing no matter what. The need to show that our faith tradition/philosophy is the best has caused a lot of blooshed in the past. Human history is full of it even though religion is not about that so we need to be very careful. Just like an electrical control system tries to adjust to environmental conditions to come to a new state, its errors i.e. deiviation from the target state takes time, as the errors (deviations) gradually die out, the same we we need to practice self control and realize that even if the best result for all humanity does not happen in our lifetime it does not matter. If we have a global agenda based on the right principles, then we can all work on it being faithful to our own religious tradtion/development philosophy. Each world tradition or philoosophy needs to carry out deep and pragmatic reseach about how the spiritual truths from their traditions can be applied to our current world to give it the spirtual dimension which it has been shedding, while the zealots (followers without much knowledge but want to be true to their beleifs) must be led responsibly to make sure that this opportunity is not wasted and humanity reduced to its lowest common demoninator.
This research has been taking place to some extent or another in every tradition, as every faith/traditional phiolophy finds challenges to grow its spirit in our secular global world. At the highest level, the intellectuals of each tradtion meet and discuss such issues in world bodies and inter-religious organizations in a collaborative way. We need to extend such spirit and outlook to the rest of the members of each ideology. Why can't we listen to a differnt idea, entertain it, and accept or reject it, without having the need to deliberately silence, convert, or oppress someone like those who represent us? If every phiolosophy implements their finding in our present world while respecting others, we will benefit from the wisdom of all ideologies, as indeed their is wisdom and goodness in all human traditions, without having a need to forcibly putting any thought down as a form of "competition". It is in the common interest of all humanity to benefit from our shared wisdom, if it aligns with our framework of belief. If we are confident of our philosophy, over time its truth or most optimum nature will emerge regardless, so why are we so defensive about it? If we let the natural process evolve, the best or most optimum human way of life will emerge regardless. When it does, those who wish to adopt it for their self development, will be free to do so, if they wish and those who do not, may not, if they wish.
As for co-religionists, to deliberately malign someone, create problems for them, insinuate misinformation about them to the masses while knowing/not knowing their context and using ideas presented by them for personal benefit or to force them to an option that will compromise their faith, believing a narrative about them we have not confirmed, is highly unethical and against the principles of relgion. How can we justify deliberately making someone who shares the same faith to compromise it for our own benefit or turning them against their own innate nature? We would never do such a thing if it was not in secular context of the world we live in. In many traditions, we have a concept of a group of elite people controlling the world. Such consipiracy theories do not exist. Only God controls the world, and if we study and implement our faith/ideology without forcing people through unethical means (which might be legal), to adopt our way even if they do not wish to do so then this will lead to corruption in the world and perhaps bad consequences globally we all wish to avoid.
In civilizations untainted by secular ideologies like that of Al Andulus (the Iberian peninsula), Muslims, Christian, and Jews lived, collaborated, and practiced their respective faiths freely for 800 years. Similarly, there was little religious tension in pre-colonial / pre-partition India which was the most wealthy civilizattion at that time. People of all communities flourished together, each free to practice their way of life. It was the lack of true understanding and practice of our faiths that led to intolerance based on "divide and conquer" philosophies of insincere leaders who wanted personal power as opposed to doing the right thing. For the most part, in our secular world, religion has unfortunately lost its essence and is being used as means to group together to safegaurd personal interests. In order to realize the dreams of living the best way we all can, we need to overcome such myopic thinking to rise above our baser selves. Religion is a beautiful thing, which gives us deep understanding of reality and solutions to our problems, but due to our present context, most of us are unfortunately using it for only competing and putting down each other.
We need to address religious/cultural/ideological rivalries which have emerged in recent history and transform them to help us all be better people. Just like our best corporate leaders are learning to use diversity of people and ideas for the common good, we need to apply similar principles globally to issues which were not there before we lost our spirtuality. Politically, "unsolvable" issues like the Arab Israeli conflict, the contention of disputed areas whether Kashmir, Nagarno Karabah, etc, the need for influence and power in the newly independent former Soviet satellite states, the rivalry between different sects with religions like Sunni and Shite Islam which only became an issue in the 1980s, or any such matter which divides us as humanity needs to be reanalyzed. The role of the United Nations and its agencies as propogator of the secularizing philosophies of development as directed by the Big 5 who only have the veto power on resolutions after the aftermath of the Second World War, needs to be reanalyzed based on a better vision. We need to relearn to live in peace with ourselves and with others while being true to our own beliefs and develop according to them to our full potential.
We have come out of the colonial era, and we are coming out of the neocolonial era and we can all benefit if we commit to do it right, in Sha Allah, God willing.