I was thinking of a personal topic for this month that we can all experience together on this platform. The last quarter of 2018 was full of hate in relation to religion, man. Saudi banned Palestinians from Hajj, and we had a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue where survivors of the Holocaust lost their lives at the hands of a deranged supremacist. Everything is so crazy, and I am so sick and tired.
To make things worse, there’s so much more that happens behind closed doors. I feel like I am living in a downgraded version of what the world is supposed to be according to basic humanistic values, which many people seem to lack for various and inexplicable reasons. We need to educate ourselves to understand that deep down, we’re all just the same.
My knowledge about other religions was not particularly vast. This is not because of ignorance or hate, obviously, but because I never made the time to pursue learning about other religions. I was too preoccupied with my own life, and my practices. I rarely took a holistic approach. Generally, many are educated about many religions, but it just isn’t the same when you do not see the practices of those religions every day. Everyone should learn, but I didn’t truly understand this until I came to study education in Canada. Canada is where I have been affirmed; there is so much to learn. This land is diverse, and I observed more here, in just one year, than I have seen explicitly in my entire life. I did travel a lot, but I spent my travels reveling as a tourist. I knew the basics of various cultures and religions, but nothing more. I remained informed of my own religion the most, naturally, and made no concerted effort to go beyond that.
As a second year education student, I realized the importance of deeply understanding the religions around me, albeit how different these religions are from Islam. As Muslims, it does not matter if we are going to be teachers, but in any profession, if we are going to be global citizens, we should be informed. We should be all for inclusivity, if we want to genuinely feel safe.
I am currently taking a class called “The Religious Quest.” The title of this class is what hooked me, not because I thought it would help me discover my own religion, but because a religious quest is also a quest to understand ALL religions. Islam advises us to be knowledgeable, and to respect all religions.
As expected, there were so many religions I learned about in that class. All the religions had one thing in common: peace and kindness. Not a lot of that happening with us right now, is there? There is so much we can learn from each other to be better global citizens together. It is near impossible to live in harmony with a lack of education. When schools discourage students from knowing anything about religion in an effort to stay “neutral,” it causes conflicts. Students like to know that they matter, and that their religions/beliefs are both tolerated, and accommodated. Religions are growing these days, and we cannot create a successful global society that rejects hate, if there is no tolerance because each person thinks they are better than the other.
I have come to notice that people have this wall around them; they do not wish to learn about other religions. In the majority of cases, this is because many fear being influenced by other religions, or think they are betraying their own religion by exploring others. However, this simply isn’t the case. Learning about the way other religions practice isn’t shunning your own religion; it’s taking the time to understand how other’s think in the context of their own religious practices.
In “The Religious Quest” class, it was beautiful seeing how much we all learned from each other. Visiting different religious shrines was concurrently amazing, and eye-opening. I had the opportunity to learn about religions I never even knew existed.
This may seem a bit cliché and preachy, but start listening. I never genuinely did before. There is a certain beauty to really, truly listening. Listen to the in-between conversations about our world. Break down your own walls. Say no to a cycle of violence and hate, perpetuated by misinformation and miseducation.
Listen to each other.