The exercise of faith and beliefs has often been the impetus to a more serene life. But when distorted shards creep into one’s beliefs, it generates activity that invariably leads to some form of tragedy.
In recent times, one’s devotion to their faith has led to more turbulence than serenity.
One does not have to go far than the subcontinent of India and Pakistan to understand the vast divide that has crept in between people who once were one and the same, but through the fostering of racial disharmony by unethical political and religious leaders, have now adopted a more intolerant and unforgiving stance toward each other.
In Pakistan, a young boy who looked after chicken on a farm in the country’s southern Sindh province was spotted sauntering over to a water cooler during the heat of the day to quench his thirst.
It was a very hot and humid day in the midst of summer, and even the animals and birds had sought shelter in the few spaces of shade provided by a smattering of dried out trees.
The water cooler was situated outside the doors of a local mosque and the boy’s actions would have barely raised an eyelid in the sweltering temperatures, except for the fact that he was a Hindu.
This immediately raised the ire of several tribesmen who took it upon themselves to punish the boy by beating him up severely.
Not content with that alone, several members of the minority Hindu community were then attacked and forced out of their homes.
The boy’s father, in lamenting over the incident, said: “All hell broke loose when my son, Dinesh, who looks after chicken in a farm, drank water from a cooler outside a mosque.
"Upon seeing him do that, the people of the area started beating him up. Later, around 150 tribesmen attacked us, injuring seven of our people who were taken to the district hospital.”
They had to take refuge in a cattle pen to escape the violent mob.
The 400 Hindu families in the area were being threatened to vacate the area. Their people were scared of going out of their houses.
They were unsure what the frenzy of the mob would do to their safety, and they stayed locked in.
The province’s chief minority minister calmly assured the Hindu community that it would receive full government protection and the perpetrators of the attack would be brought to justice.
Why did a bunch of illiterate tribesmen and villagers attack a boy not of their faith simply for sharing water?
There is no religion that I know of that forbids such an act. Was it because the cooler was attached to the mosque and the attackers felt that the boy being a Hindu had defiled the sanctity of their place of worship?
Or was it just an excuse to drive out those who were different?
Such dramas are often played out on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, and usually, the helpless and the hapless are the unwitting targets.
In India, atrocities committed against the Dalit (backward caste) abound with one beaten to death with an iron bar by an upper caste man for daring to pray at the temple of the village deity.
In recent times, reports of Muslims being chased and lynched by mobs for eating beef have also been reported on several occasions.
Hindu girls and their families have been beaten up or shamed for marrying into Muslim families.
Even the minority Christians are not immune to such atrocities.
Detained for singing carols
In the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, 32 Christian priests and seminarians were detained by the police after a Hindu mob had attacked them, apparently for singing Christmas carols, burnt their car and thrashed them even at the police station.
After a sleepless night on the cold jail cell floor, the police booked one of the priests on charges of ‘forced conversions’, letting the attackers go with a mild rebuke.
Such incidents are not limited just to the Indian subcontinent. They happen all over the world.
True advocates of neither Hinduism nor Islam will ever endorse such barbarity against others.
There should be no room for such twisted ideology and governments must not just sit back and let such events play out.
They should swiftly ensure that the rights of all are protected, regardless of their religious beliefs.
We were not put in this world to judge others or harm them if they are different.
That is not our role.
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena.