In the Name of Religion

Ashray’s Mom has been complaining that the new maid that comes to work in her house doesn’t seem to be doing her job properly. She comes in the morning to clean the rooms and in the afternoon to do the wash up after lunch. Apparently, she skips cleaning the stove quite often. Some days she will clean it and some other days, as if invisible, she’ll just ignore it. So Ashray’s Mom decided to ask her “why don’t you clean the stove?“, and the answer was something I couldn’t have expected.

This lady works in several houses in the neighborhood and, apparently, she’s been asked not to touch the stove if there are still pans with food on top. All she’d have to do is put the pans that are still full to the side to be able to carry on with her work, but she’s been prohibited of doing so in some houses for one reason: she is Muslim.

What are these people thinking? That they won’t go to Hindu heaven if a Muslim person touches their food or, in this case, the containers with their food? What exactly is going to happen to them? Would they get some exotic Muslim contagious disease… or what is it?! I would honestly like to understand the reasoning behind what I can only perceive as non-sense.

I came to know later on that, in India, some people use fake Hindu names to avoid ruining their employment opportunities. This applies mainly to domestic helpers that, knowing that the majority of households follow the Hindu faith, won’t risk it by introducing themselves as Mohamed or Abir.

This sickens me. The more I live and go around, the more instances I come across when religion does more harm than good.

morality vs religion

morality vs religion


If it’s true that most religions are based in principles that are positive at a first glance, that could help us live better with one another, it’s also true that, in practical terms, religion brings a great deal of negativity in human co-existence. What about all the wars that have been fought in the name of religion, all the disputes inside local communities that still happen because of religious differences, all the lovers that have been set apart because of different religious backgrounds?…

I am done with this kind of religious thinking. I am done with the fact that some people feel like they belong to some sort of elite when they follow a certain faith. I am done with people that think their religion is the one, while others are sects (really – what makes you different?). I am done with people that preach one thing and do another. I am done with the chauvinism that reigns in most religions. I am done with religious representatives that act in ways a God (if existing) wouldn’t certainly approve of. I am done with people that would rather follow dogmas blindly and accommodate themselves without questioning the world around them. I am done with brainwashing. I am so done.

And most of all, I am done with stupid differences between humans and letting those become a source of conflict.

We are not that different after all.

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  • Zara, I don’t think we should blame the religion but blame people who neglect the common sense and act as the God word. I believe the problem is taking the extreme in everything and judge/deal with people on what they believe or how they look.

    In one of the countries we visited We were kicked out of the house because we practiced our religion and that person was atheist. A person who don’t believe in religion could also be an extremist too.

    This is a point of view and I salute you for yours too.

    • Zara Says

      Hey Guys!

      Religion is not to blame as such, true, it is some individual’s interpretation of religion and the fact that they use their faith as an excuse for discriminatory behaviors. The fact that you guys were kicked out of someone’s house because you follow a certain religion and the person was an atheist is also extremely discriminatory – if not just plain stupid.

      If I say something against religion in general is because in so many instances in life I come across situations when religion plays such a negative role amongst people. One could say that is because people let is come in the middle… it’s not religion as such, it’s the people. But religion IS its people, it’s not a thing per se without its followers.. so it all boils down to the same in my opinion.

    • nicole Says

      I wouldn’t be comfortable with someone openly practicing their religion in my house. Even if they are my guest and I’m supposed to be a gracious host. Lots of people aren’t comfortable taking off their shoes when they visit our place. But, you know, we like to keep the floor clean. If you don’t like it, then wear appropriate socks or go home. The same goes for religion. And I can see why that guy kicked you out of his house.

  • 'Lara Says

    Like Digital Nomada wrote do not blame the religion, blame the people who practice the religion. Blame the religious leaders who manipulate the religion to suit their selfish desires…blame the gullible religious followers who never questions the religious leaders, who never strive to experience the religion on their own terms.

    Religion has done more harm than good and will continue to do more harm if we continue to blindly follow the sayings of some men.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Lara,

      I agree with you. People have a tendency to follow things without questioning and in religion, same as in politics and many other aspects of life, that does more harm than good. Whoever rules can easily play the game in other for them to win (money, power, status, etc..).. and unfortunately there is a lot of people in this world with sheep mentality that would follow just about anything. Doing without thinking can’t be good.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Navroop Says

    I happened to be fighting my own battles in the name of religion. Iam a sikh who is very fortunate to be marrying a man i have known for 10 years now and we are, needless to say, madly in love. It took us so long to seal this love with permanent life time knot coz he is a christian. My parents considered our love worthy of reproach and disdain becaise he is a christian and a south indian ( iam a north indian). Even though we both come from the same country, same narionality and love for all things same. 6 years….6 years to show them that religion will not even make it beyond the threshold of the home we make together. They are still not convinced but we are getting there. Its sick, disgusting that on paper we are a secular country but in reality we can easily pass of as 2nd worst to saudi arabia when it comes to religious tolerance.

    I still have hope. Yes, i do. My generation of indians are different. Not all, but most. We wont stand for such things. We understand the importance of a community, brotherhood and sisterhood, kinship bla bla but at the same time we won’t disregard someone for their religios faith but judge them only for their importance on basic civil decency and conscience for ethics. Iam the first in all of my generations to be marrying someone outside my religion (let alone cast) and iam proud that the universe trusted me with the strength to fight for what i felt was right.

    Religion at some point meant to guide us towards the light of righteous thinking but somewhere in between it lost the plot and became something evil and started focusing more on the aesthetics rather than the spiritual aspect of himan existence.

    It is such a shame.

    Thanks for sharing the above.

    Navroop kamel
    Dubai, UAE

    • Zara Says

      Hi Navroop,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story here and, above all, for having the guts that many Indian people do not have to stand up and fight for what you believe it when it comes to love and relationships.

      I am married to an Indian man (Portuguese here) and pretty much in touch with Indian culture and, unfortunately, I come across people giving up on love (or not even trying) way too often, for the sake of following their family expectations. I am so happy to read that this is not your case and that you understand that your love, no matter what the religious or caste differences might be, can work beyond all of that.

      India is so big that people sometimes let the regional differences act against them.. but if on top of that we’re going to let religion also play its part by establishing even more differences between people, then things won’t work well.

      India needs more people like you and your husband, to show that things can indeed work out independently of such differences and people can actually be happy together, coming from district backgrounds. And raise decent families with strong ethics and morality, way beyond religion, or at least beyond an interpretation of religion that constrains the way they live and love.

      I know it’s a struggle, but I am positive this will work out for the best. You are an example for your generation. People that have made positive changes in history have often endured hard situations – try to keep this in mind if you ever feel too desperate! ;)

      Wish you the best of luck and keep on loving!

      • Navroop K Says

        Hi Zara,

        Thank you for your kind words. I will surely remember to keep the above in mind during times i need to feel good about myself.

        Ethics and morality, like you said, is exactly what we should be aiming for. Why can’t a human being not be raised without it’s shadow. Like in your blog above, is this what it is teaching us? to live in the dark ages? Consider human beings untouchable bacause they are not the same religion as you? if this is there approach towards human beings? you can only imagine how they treat other living creatures. CAN ONLY IMAGINE!

        Anyways, my rant has no end.

        btw, Great blog and Great travels! Keep discovering :)

  • great post, Zara! And the conversation in the comments section makes it even more interesting..

    • Zara Says

      Thanks Anita!
      The comments part is my favorite! :)
      I like discussing this topic and I’m more than happy to do it in the written form too!

  • littlebird am Says

    I personally am a religious person, but like you it sickens me to see people blindly following a faith and using it as an excuse to discriminate against others. I want to say to you and all of those who have commented here that I am impressed with the level of respect and courtesy shown in the comment discussion, so much so that I felt I simply had to comment on it. People have expressed a variety of views on this topic, but all have been presented with respect for other’s views. As you know many discussions on this topic become heated and disrespectful…most to the point that I refuse to read them. A thank you to you all for sharing these intelligent, thoughtful and respectful posts.

    • Zara Says

      Indeed Littlebird – I am also happy to see that we can all comment and discuss this topic, taking into consideration each other’s views and faiths and always keeping it respectful.
      That’s what productive and enlightening arguments are all about! :)

  • Veronica Says

    Hello all,

    Thank you for the thought-provoking post, Zara. As others have said,the problem is not religion per se, but intolerance. That feeling of superiority which makes people scornful towards others. The source varies (ethicity, race, class, language, personal preferences, sexuality, religion and so on), but the harmful result is the same. Personally, even though I do not follow any religion, it makes me really angry when people are looked down (or worse, treated badly) because of their religion. And I have noticed that such behaviour may come from people of a different religion like in your story, but also from atheists.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Veronica,

      True, being an “extreme atheist” is as bad as being an extremely religious person. In fact, the story from Digital Nomads in the 1st comment above is a proof of that!

      My point is that we shouldn’t allow such differences to become a problem in human co-existence. We should try and learn from one another and, even when we don’t think we can absorve anything positive from the other person, then at least we should live and let live.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Vaibhav Says

    I think the guys from the first comment (2DigitalNomads) might be kicked out because they practiced their religion in someone else’s house – on a private property. While it is as despicable as the incident with the maid, the maid is bound by her job, has no choice and that’s why is forced to suffer it. These guys, who I’m assuming might have found a house thru Couch Surfing, should have read T & C of their host before going there.

    • Zara Says

      I don’t know if that’s what happened to 2DigitalNomads.

      I never Couchsurfed – is it normal to mention anything about religion in the host’s T&C? Have you come across people that clearly mention they’re happy to receive someone as long as they won’t practice their religion under their roof? Or do people mention that they’re particularly happy to host someone of a certain religion, etc?!

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