Are all religions/ideologies reformable ?

Are there no constraints to ideas/ideologies,religions that can be reformed?. Or anything can be reformed?.
Is it possible to get Hitler admiring people to not be racist ? or to stop hating jews?. Or is it the case that no matter the endless creative de tours one takes it will in the end fail as some people will see it straight forward and follow the example of hitler and become racist/anti semitic.

If individual leaders are the anchors that would constrain ideologies like nazism along with its other ideas, can something similar be true for other ideologies & religions? Should we be surprised by ISIS considering the model they were following?. Will it not be the case that for all the reforms, there will always be break away movements that will once again want to follow the original teachings with straight forward views of the times?.

I leave it for you to ponder. This is very important, because there are people who would want to believe that all ideas can be redeemed and to express doubts over this would invite charges of bigotry. If a bad religion x can be tweaked, another bad religion y can also be tweaked, does that mean all bad religions can be tweaked to be moderate and if some one disagrees , is it enough to simply call them as bigots as an answer in itself?. Or could they be true. If they are true, would it not be the case that the world that unfortunately ends up with that particular religion/ideology, many good minded people of that world will end up giving cover for it will eventually hurt them all?. Politeness itself can become a catastrophe?.

The appropriate answer to such answer would be to preserve a world where one isnt entirely polite, one is willing to call out all religions/ideologies and test and prod them. And be allowed to declare that some or all ideas cannot be truly be reformed and encourage people to abandon them in its entirety. The proof of burden of moderation should be on particular ideologies/religions & not on everyone else to be polite.

22 thoughts on “Are all religions/ideologies reformable ?”

  1. Bharata, are you claiming that Muslims are simply incapable of being lawful citizens in India ? There are far too many exceptions, Rahi Masoom Raza (who wrote the dialog for B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharata, the defining cultural product out of independent India so far), Mohd Rafi (innumerable bhajans), AR Rahman, KM Asif and so on.

    These are the most creative people from the Indian Muslim community and they have dedicated a substantial chunk of their life to producing art that has supported Indian national identity.

    One must not misattribute the reasons for India’s problems to a community that makes up only 14% of the population. The main reason for our problems is the lack of entrepreneurship and risk taking, and the shameless deployment of caste by dominant caste groups to grab government employment. It is these reasons that compromise the rule of law in India, not a group’s religious beliefs. Muslims are usually herded into voting for such caste parties by extremists/ultra conservatives who make pacts with such leaders.

    Mumbai has a 21% Muslim population. It is one of the richest cities in the world, and has a murder rate of 1.5. Patna has a 12% Muslim population and has a murder rate of 10.

  2. “Are all religions/ideologies reformable ?”

    The question one should ask is why doesn’t a given religion see the need for a reform internally. Any religious dogma or ism can be reformed. All religions have voluntarily suspended certain toxic commandment as the society evolved over centuries. If Islam commanded its followers to kill non-believers, why are there 75% non-believers in the sub-continent after a 500-year dictatorial Muslim rule? Probably some reformed Muslims, say Sufis and like minded people did not think that commandment is valid under all circumstances.

    1. hoipolloi, I am not sure that old empires and kingdoms are the right yardstick to compare with today. The nation state, and especially the modern nation state are overwhelmingly different from a monarchy.

      Just to give you an idea on how dramatically different a modern state is from a pre modern one. There were more government jobs in just the Punjab division of the British Indian railways than in the entire Mughal empire at its zenith.

      Old empires simply did not have the capacity to intrude in their subjects lives the way modern states do. There has been a lot of talk of how countries like Iran and Afghanistan became Muslim. But we must bear in mind that the pre modern population of these countries was not more than 5-6 million (max). Compare this to just UP’s 50 million.

      And even in places like Iran and Afghanistan conversions took centuries. The maximum number of conversions in India took place in the fringes of the subcontinent. Rural UP was more than 90% Hindu till 50 years ago.

      I think your first question is an interesting one. The ancient Greeks told us that your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. The idea of a single, unchangeable book being supreme bestows great unity in the short term, but can create lots of issues in the longer scheme of things.

      1. Vikram, I am not convinced that populations use to grow in the past. Populations might have shrunk during many centuries.

        How could Iran have conquered much of the world circa 500 BC with such a small population. Yes Iran was more like NATO and the UN than the Soviet Union or 1979 China. More like a coalition. Half or more of Iran’s subjects and the Iranian army were Hindus and they fought bravely for the Iranians. Still could Iran have pulled this off with such a small population.

        My best estimate is that more than 500,000 Iranian (mostly coalition) troops invaded Greece half a millennia before Christ.

      2. I believe I have answered this question already , in my earlier reply to vikram . Where resistance and leverage was available to local populace, they survived in big numbers, where they didnt, this didnt happen, Iran, afghanistan, bangladesh, Indonesia, malaysia, arabia,iraq are evidence for this.

  3. Vikram, I believe it was within the reach of Aurangzeb to have converted whole of his kingdom and kill off the unconverted; this is not withstanding the episode of attempt at conversion of Kashmiri Pundits and the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur.

    I read briefly the Taimur invasion of Delhi earlier and the massacre that happened so systematically and so large. I don’t believe the powers that be in olden days are incapable of doing that to each living being at that time. My intuitive conclusion was once 25-35% people were converted and a critical mass of new religion is reached in the sub-continent there was no interest to go after the others. The 30% is enough to protect the kingdom militarily, provide all other services like subdue the rest, tax collection etc. I don’t think these Muslim theocratic heads of state in India were primarily evangelists though it looks like that to Hindus.

    I have more to say about the unchangeable books and how it was achieved. May be latter.

    1. hoipolloi, Delhi’s population even today is 1.5% India’s. In the days of Taimur, it couldnt have been more than 0.1%.

      The Turks committed atrocities. And so did the Marathas.

      Religion was not really a factor. The Mughals closest allies in India were the Rajputs, and they trusted them above all other Muslims (apart from family) to lead their armies.

      In contrast, they had a complete ban on recruiting Pashtuns to any decent rank in their armies.

    2. hoipolloi, Delhi’s population even today is 1.5% India’s. In the days of Taimur, it couldnt have been more than 0.1%.

      The Turks committed atrocities. And so did the Marathas.

      Religion was not really a factor. The Mughals closest allies in India were the Rajputs, and they trusted them above all other Muslims (apart from family) to lead their armies.

      In contrast, they had a complete ban on recruiting Pashtuns to any decent rank in their armies.

    3. “hoipolloi” there was intense evangelism. Hindus (and Hindu Buddhists) resisted. Many Hindus (and Hindu Buddhists and Jain) accepted death rather than convert.

  4. This is a point I made in other topic comments, I think it serves here as well.

    Let me put it to u like this. say a group of people exist called A. A is sum of x & y. A=x+y. Say x are simple minded people, Y are supremacist bigots trying to expand themselves. Now u have group B. people in B assume only small percentage of A (y) are bad. But over period of time A will keep expanding due to this small y over B. The only way to stop (y) is to put pressure on A as a whole to change so that y wont have an easy life. Otherwise everyone in A are silent supporters of supremacist attitudes of y. so, ur opinion is unwittingly supportive of supremacist bigots.
    Simple analogy is, not all pakistanis are terrorists, but boy do pakistanis give much freedom & support to terrorists.

  5. “Iran, afghanistan, bangladesh, Indonesia, malaysia, arabia,iraq”

    The population of Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Arabia and Iraq put together is less than Hindu population in just UP.

    The Bangladesh conversion has been explained by Richard Eaton, you would be interested to know that this project was enthusiastically supported by Hindu Rajputs and traders. The people converting to Islam in East Bengal were not Hindu in the sense we understand today. Even so, until the post modern demographic transition (where Muslims have had higher fertility rates) Bengal had an even proportion of Hindus and Muslims. Bengalis dont use Arabic script, their vocabulary is mainly Sanskrit based. They cant be compared to Iranians, Turks, Pakistanis etc.

    1. “Iran, afghanistan, bangladesh, Indonesia, malaysia, arabia,iraq”

      The population of Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Arabia and Iraq put together is less than Hindu population in just UP.

      Also largely a meaningless statement. As for Richard eaton, I dont trust a person who claimed only 80 odd temples were destroyed.

      One can look at conquests and look at change in terms of religion and one realizes that the correlations for this is skewed for monotheistic evangelical religions. mongols conquered, so did Alexander, religions to large degree didnt change.

      When one looks at correlations between conquest and religion, one could say that growth of religion as an end inspite of all possible political combination of interactions between different groups is evidence that religion itself played a role. If it were the case that it was all politics, we would observe something like a large Buddhist civilization still in saudi arabia. If that were true, One could say that its all politics, otherwise, its not all politics, religion itself has political dimension.

      Thank you

  6. When Indian Shia or Sufi speak about the destruction of thousands of Hindu temples, they take on the Jihadis very strongly. But if a nonmuslim quotes an Indian Sufi or Shia . . . they are accused of being Islamophobia. To be fair minority muslims and moderate muslims are accused by nonmuslims of being Islamaphobes all the time.

  7. BB, like I said historically the Middle East was not an area of major economic interest. Apart from Tigris-Euphrates plain in Iraq (which is why Baghdad, not Mecca was the capital of the Islamic empire) and the Nile delta, the region is not agriculturally productive. In fact, it economy was based mostly on trade.

    Once can understand why the Indians were more interested in the East than the West. It was a far more agriculturally rich and lucrative place. All the kingdoms in SE Asia were called Indianized kingdoms at one point of time. The scripts of Burmese, Thai and Cambodian belong to the Indic family. Much of Indonesian and Malay vocabulary remains Sanskrit based. And this influence did involve military conquests.

    Today when the Middle East is more lucrative, millions of Indians have migrated there. And not just as labourers, the overwhelming majority of the rich businessmen in Dubai are Indians. Over time there will be other cultural influences as well.

    The biggest challenge to India is not Abrahamism (which itself has shrunk dramatically as a living ideology in its core European and Middle Eastern centers) but China. Abrahamic extremism is a law and order issue in India, but China actually has a military that can challenge us, and its economy is far stronger than ours at the moment. I would expend my brain cells on confronting its threat rather than feeling smug about the limitations of Abrahamic religions.

    1. we cant beat china, they have to break from within. We should accept China has raced ahead of us and make peace, even if it means some territorial loss. No, chinese can be expected to be rational, not so of religion. They are also polytheistic, I dont see them as core threat to us. As far as Abrahamism is concerned, we already had a partition, its part of our history, kashmir is unstable, so is north east. One is islamic, other is xtian. History tells us, abrahamic religions have beeen the real threat to polytheists. Not nation states. kingdoms come and go. I should be worried about what constricts my rights most, I look around bangladesh & pakistan and can see the state of Hindus there. one genocide in 1971, ethnic cleansing in kashmir followed that. Demography is destiny. Law & order is the problem, ofcourse yes, once again with changes in demography, even constitution is under threat.
      Idea that India can continue as it is irrespective of demography is nonsense. Hindus have political rights they can exert in the world is only because of India, if we were to lose that, we would be at mercy of others. That to me is fate to be avoided the most. Rest all are not much of concern if one notices that kingdoms come and go.

    2. I have to agree with Vikram. Islamism or Pakistan or politics of the greater middle-east is of no long-term threat to us. Those people will (and are) stew(ing) in their own juice – assuming genuine Westernization does not take over, which I see very little chance of happening in our lifetimes…

      Indians must be seriously concerned about China. It is an extremely powerful and a very dangerous regime. And part of the danger it poses is related to its pragmatism (as opposed to wishy-washy Arab medievalism).

      And Indians must be concerned about silly khaki-knicker revanchism in their own country too. Westernize as fast as we can – hopefully without making the same mistakes the West did in its evolution. In that process, Indian Muslims pose far less of an impediment than revanchist Hindus.

      1. it was the westernized ones who lost us 1962 war, made our economy worse, never payed much attention to issues of military. And, no, we will make mistakes, not making mistakes is something that one never does.

        Demography changes everything.As you should know from kashmir and partition, 1971 genocide as well. Internal coherence is very important.

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