Heli R. Desai –  Graduate-Bachelor of Commerce, Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

The world today has become a smaller place to live in. With the globalization there is increased interaction and interdependence on each other. The world today is faced with many conflicts between religions. There have been cases in many countries where the lack of religious harmony has caused a lot of social unrest, loss of people as well as property. These conflicts not only affect people in the country but also affect people from different countries.

There are many religions in the world. Also all the countries have different people who belong to different religions. They have to interact and stay together in peace. There have been cases where countries conflict with each other on the grounds of religion. This happens when a country has a particular religion as a majority. In such countries, the people who are in a minority are often discriminated and harassed.

What does Religion mean? Religion is an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their ideas about the cosmos and human nature, they tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.

Many religions may have organized behaviors, clergy, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, holy places, and scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration of a deity, gods or goddesses, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religions may also contain mythology.

The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system; however, in the words of Émile Durkheim, religion differs from private belief in that it is “something eminently social”. A global 2012 poll reports that 59% of the world’s population is religious, 23% are not religious, and 13% are atheists.

Religion is a great force – the only real motive force in the world. There is a common misconception that religion means ritualistic religion and nothing else. The word religion actually means laws, both natural and moral, that ensure right living .Religion stands for an integral development of the personality, a comprehensive view of life. People often focus more on religion and lesser on humanity. They give more importance to the religious aspect and forget that they are human beings first. This causes a lot of conflicts between people and countries.

The world is faced with conflict and violence today. In fact there has been no period in history, which has not witnessed violent conflicts. It is also important to remember that root cause of conflict is often injustice with weaker sections of society and the weaker sections may be poor, may be linguistic, cultural or religious minorities or migrants from other countries. Justice and peace, it should be remembered, are inseparable. Peace can never be established by using mere rhetoric or exhortation.

Conflict resolution is an extremely challenging job. It requires not only correct understanding of the causes of conflict but also inexhaustible degree of patience. The nature of the conflict differs from case to case. As in all religions of the world and its Holy doctrines and scriptures, the central theme and practice of peace has been repeatedly emphasized.

Religion is a powerful constituent of cultural norms and values, and because it addresses the most profound existential issues of human life .Religion is deeply implicated in individual and social conceptions of peace. To transform the conflicts besetting the world today, we need to uncover the conceptions of peace within our diverse religious and cultural traditions, while seeking the common ground among them. The relationship between religion and conflict is, in fact, a complex one. Religiously-motivated peace builders have played important roles in addressing many conflicts around the world.

Religion and religious sentiments have been misused in a perverse manner to reach certain selfish, self-centered goals. Political leadership entangled in power craving national politics, with a twisted vision of dictating the rest of the world, instigated further by religious fundamentalists, have led as a reaction to this state of terrorism. Thus, on the one hand, while world views and the United Nations and other smaller institutions have been consolidating their status in the globalized world, the ever increasing close proximity of nations have also been feeding the religiously motivated politicians with the concept of world domination. It is common knowledge that every religion professes peace among all religious creed and followers within any society or nation. It is also known that the basic values taught by all religions are the same, and these all strive to lay the foundation of a peaceful, prosperous society. In fact, the commonality of basic values of life and living should have inspired common views on issues confronting mankind. Religion is a complex phenomenon, defying definition or summary. Almost as many definitions and theories of religion exist as there are authors on the subject. In the broadest terms, three approaches are generally taken to the scholarly study of religion: the historical, the phenomenological, and the behavioral or social – scientific.

In an evolving globalize world, there has been emerging new and common challenges facing the whole of mankind, some of dire consequences. The importance and need of cogent and cohesive world views in the face of devastating crisis was felt never before than in the last century. The two world wars and the sacrifice of millions of lives expedited the process of the need of converging world views in the face of disasters. The First World War led to the League of Nations that failed when the then world opinion surrendered to the whims of great powers. It was the Second World War driven by unbridled ambition and greed that culminated with worldwide demand for the United Nations, thus created in 1947. The primary objective of the United Nations was to establish and maintain international peace and security. The mode to ensure such a universal state was to use the forum for exchanging views and formulating common positions on issues threatening destabilization of any region of the world. This time around, the international institution, a need of the time, became an instant and sustained success. Aside containing, dissolving, or even intervening in the event of crises threatening sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, the institution began spanning its wings to encompass areas of economic, social, and humanitarian concerns. The expansion in newer areas came about through discussions, deliberations, negotiations, basically through exchange of diversity of national views and their convergence into universal consensus agreements on issues adversely affecting humanity at large. Thus, common strategies have been evolved with cooperation of all member states to face and avert challenges and dangers arising from time to time.

The world is now facing the various issues like global warming and climatic change, degradation of environment and ecological balance, growing shortage of fresh water, human rights violations and the increasing acts of local and global terrorism, among a few others. Though some are directly or indirectly related to the constant drive and exploitation of natural resources for meeting the various demands of humanity, there are others emanating from policies and acts of gross injustice, suppression of freedom, and different forms of repression. A particular type of terrorism deriving from political-religious based suppression and hard discrimination has appeared with vicious vengeance in the last decade. There is none to blame but ourselves for this terrorism malaise.

Religions have all been inherently secular as their founders have found their enlightenment from the same source. Religions have appeared at different times in human history to bring peace and sanity among wayward people stooping to the irrational life of base instincts and paganism. Religions have always taught followers of all faith to have forbearance and tolerance of one another and to live a life of peace with each other. Religions have never instigated imposition of one faith over other by force and oppressive designs. It is true human history is replete with events where rulers in connivance with fundamentalist priests have imposed their religions on other religious sects forcing conversions. These successes have been far outweighed by failures as such forceful acts have never been part, practice or philosophy of any religion. Surely, secularism lies as the core philosophy of all religions. If religions and their secular philosophies were allowed freedom to preach as in their books, there would not be any distinction between religious and secular worldviews.