City of Brass

City of Brass


does religion cause violence?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Sunny Hundal makes a very insightful comment:

Conflict has always been part of human nature; what we have are codes of conduct that make sense and sound good in theory but always end up being fitted around people’s own political or personal agendas. So, attributing violence or peace to religious belief misses the target. It makes more sense to separate them to illustrate how religion is often used as a cover to disguise political agendas.

This is why a healthy debate on the interaction between faith and violence is worth having – it might even go some way towards dispelling the notion that religion is simply a source of conflict.

I find this very helpful. Religion and violence as cause and effect is indeed a flawed model; Rather, both are human activities that serve a self-purpose, and it is the interplay between them that we need to explore further.

Related – a critical assessment at Talk Islam. However, as I point out in the thread, I think that the main thrust of Sunny’s argument has a great deal of value.



  • http://osservivedono.blogspot.com/ Wellsy

    I think to blame a religion for anything is a little foolish. Anyone can go to any religious text and having read it through enough times, can interpret it to take away the meaning they want instead of the meaning that was intended. Furthermore, those people can go on to found schools or entire denominations/sects that teach only their views, so the young never gets a choice as to how they would come to know God.
    I think the way religions are abused points to the fact that God is not going to do anything for us. People who are waiting for a messiah to save them physically from this world are going to be waiting a very long time. We screwed up the environment so we need to fix it; we screwed up by going to war, so we need to fix it; we screwed up in teaching violence as a central tenant of a religion, we need to fix it. So on and so forth. This flies in the face of religious tradition and scriptural texts where God was very active in ensuring his community not only stuck together behind 1 set of teachings, but was in no short supply of “big” miracles — and by big miracles, I mean things for which we still have no scientific explanation today such as the turning of rivers into blood, healing the blind, etc. Of course, the view that we’re going to have to fix these things on our own and the SYMBOLISM of these scriptures are only irreconcilable to the literalist.

  • http://www.islamicate.com islamoyankee
  • Your Name

    I think the correct answer to the question is: Religious extremism is what causes violence.
    America proomises all of its citizens freedom of reigion. When one faith group ‘gets in the face’ of people of other faiths (or of no faith), that is what causes conflict.
    As my grandmother used to say, “You go to your Church; I’ll go to mine.”
    Sure kept peace in the family.

  • Conrad Barwa

    Hundal seems to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the violence created by extremist groups and fundamentalist interpretations of religion, mostly by Muslims. He spends rather less time on the violence resulting from secular states and mainstream ideologies, for reasons best known to him.

  • http://www.shabbirhussain.org Shabbir Hussain

    Well. Man does need any reason to indulge in violence, be it of his own doing or not. There are times we need violence to give us an understanding of certain things or certain pictures of life. There are times we believe or made to believe that violence is the right answer to certain questions. Role of Religion in violence is probably an excuse we put forward, maybe to hide our embarrassment of the real reason.
    For the past few years I have been living around people who pretty much come into this category, and they are from all corners of the society.

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