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While there is no particular unequivocal commandment in the holy books that states ‘thou shall not permit intolerance’, it is without doubt that religious tolerance on values, truth and beliefs is yet to be realized since it is the nature of religions to compete. Studies indicate that the capacity religions have been massively affected by competition, religious condemnations and conflicts.
Carlos argues that religious tolerance is an important component that encompasses a moral reason by a particular religion to practice restraint from making counterproductive utterances or interfering with the affairs of other religions (777).
Different religions have diverse sets of beliefs and practices. This has bred lack of tolerance. It is from this consideration that this paper provides an in-depth analysis of Abrahamic, East Asian and South Asian religions with regards to the concept of religious tolerance.
A brief analysis of the concept of religious tolerance
Perhaps, Costa was correct when he indicated that a society will never be successful until it addresses fully the problem of religious tolerance among different religions (322). Religious differences in terms of practices and beliefs have been major causes of conflicts and religious disagreements in countries like Bosnia, Beirut and Belfast for many years.
Of critical importance is the distressing issue of terrorism by Al Qaeda that has projected wars on a global scale. It is indeed true that religious tolerance and the problem of religious diversity present a major danger to individuals, societies and the world at large.
This springs from certain religions which view themselves as better and more advanced than others (323). Owing to this peculiar alignment, these religions develop specific standards that are mostly used to define them from others and use it as the main platform for judging others. At this point, analysts tend to wonder why a religious group would disregard others and holistically undermine the need for diversity.
Theologians and philosophers almost unanimously agree that religious diversity and tolerance present a challenging problem that poses epistemological challenges. The major world religions such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism have different belief systems which make them unique. This presents major challenges as addressed below.
Abrahanmic religions as Neal posits is a group of monotheistic faith whose beginning can be traced from Abraham and which emphasizes spiritual practices of Abraham (497). Some of the Abrahamic religions include Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The latter believe that religious practices and beliefs sprang from Abraham’s grandson named Jacob. It views God in a strictly unitary manner and prefers the Hebrew Bible.
On the other hand, Christianity evolved into a religion from Judaism with its own set of practices and beliefs. Christianity as a religion is considered to be a belief system based on the life and teachings of Jesus. These teachings found in the Bible show God’s saving plan for humanity through Jesus Christ.
In this belief system, Christians are also made to believe that demons and angels exist and that they (Christians) are partners with God in accomplishing God’s purposes. Finally, Islam is a religion which as formed in the 7th century BC in Arabia (Carlos 777). Its adherents who are the Muslims, believe in the ultimate authority, teachings and practices of the Quran ad Muhammad.
While Abrahamic religions share certain similarities like monotheistic believes and a regard of God as the supreme source of moral law, it is without uncertainty that they exhibit different fundamental doctrines, beliefs and practices through which they can mobilize philosophical arguments.
For instance, Christian practices and beliefs such as mystical virtuosi and mundane experiences differ with that of Islam which does not believe in the Holy Spirit, a consideration which each religion justifies from its source of moral law.
Besides, Christian practices of forced conversion such as those practiced by the Roman Catholic Church goes against the practices of other religions and do not only offend human dignity, but also pollute the religion (Schmidt-Leukel 379). Muslims believe in proselytizing their religion and forcefully spread it to an extent of killing those who reject their faith through holy wars (Husin, Malek and Gapor 113).
Judaism unlike Christianity rejects explicit missionaries and believes that righteousness comes from adhering to Noahide laws (Husin, Malek and Gapor 113).These differences among others present vexing challenges to tolerance and pitch one religion as an unvanquished rival to the rest.
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East Asian and South Asian religions
East Asian religions are a group of religions considered to be distinct religions families forming the subset of Eastern religions. Some of the religions in this group as indicated by Schmidt-Leukel include Chinese, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Chongdogyo, Chen Tao, Shinto, Caodaism and Taoism (379). It is imperative to point out that their philosophies, practices and concepts are based on Tao.
Studies reveal that while the East Asian Religious practices differ with those of major religious groups, they bear some semblance with those of the Indian religions and Abrahamic religions. Even so, Costa argues that this does not mean that members of the Abrahamic religion tolerate East Asian religions as they exhibit major peculiarities (323).
One of them is their non-theistic or polytheistic nature with other varieties like agnostic, panestheistic and henostheistic in Asia and abroad. While most of the East Asian religions find their tolerance of each other on Tao, other religions find it difficult to embrace and tolerate their practice such as emptiness, relativism and spontaneity in Taoism and belief in animistic spirits in Confucianism.
On the other hand, South Asian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism have been considered by many analysts as dynamic and vibrant religious faith in the world today due to the fusion of non-Verdict Shramana traditions of native south Asia with the verdict religion of Indo-Aryan.
An analysis of religious tolerance
The ability of religions or adherents of different religions to display tolerance despite their diversity in practices and beliefs is one of the key platforms towards greater cooperation, adherence, holistic contribution by all and eventual growth and development of a society.
Minimizing religious conflicts has been considered by Quinn as a main principle that could facilitate a new outline towards a highly united society at the local and national level (136).
In agreement, Quinn’s indication that addressing problems affecting religious tolerance requires a holistic involvement at all levels in world religions appears to cohere with that of Schmidt-Leukel who indicates that it is the dark cloud of religious wars that has over the years suppressed the ability of the individuals and the society to progress (379).
One such difference as already indicated in the paper is the practice by Christians of forceful conversion and the Jihad of Muslims or their forceful spread of Islamic beliefs. However, analysts appear divided over the actual methods that could be employed in addressing the problem.
Up to date, most religions that do not share beliefs and practices have failed to tolerate each other and instead referred to others as alien and their practices as ridiculous. Take for instance the perspective held by Christian that they are the religion that is closer to the truth than others (Husin, Malek and Gapor 113).
This not only creates the notion of competition and pride, but sets other religions as inferior. The Muslims on the other hand, are persuaded by their belief to slay unbelievers through acts of war, a consideration that makes other religions to recoil with horror. This has led to religious discrimination mostly witnesses between Christians and Muslims.
As if that is not enough, Quinn pillories that the trial to infer balance and tolerance between one religion and another has remained a hard nut to crack (137).
However, it is the resilience of wars between religious facts that has remained a thorn in the fresh for long. In the Middle East, Husin, Malek and Gapor indicate that both Muslims and Christian consider themselves be superior and therefore invoke major conflicts in the region (112).
Further on religion, Quinn accuses the followers advocating water while they take wine by failing to adhere to doctrines of brotherliness and care for others as advocated for by Christ, Gautama and Mohammed in Islam (139).
From the discussion, it is clear that different religions have various practices and beliefs that govern them. These differences have largely contributed towards the challenge of religious tolerance since each religion seems to idealize its practice and regard others as inferior.
There is need for religions to desist from condemning and criticizing practices and belief systems held by others. Instead, there is need to cultivate respect, understanding and tolerance.
Carlos, Valderrama Adrians. “Tolerance and religious freedom: the struggle in Peru to tolerate multiple cultures in light of principles of religious freedom.” Brigham Young University Law Review 2007.3 (2007): 775-790. Print.
Costa, Gustavo. “John Locke, Toleration and early enlightenment culture: religious intolerance and arguments for religious tolerance in early modern and ‘early enlightenment’ Europe.” Renaissance Quarterly 60.1 (2007): 322-3223. Print.
Husin Azrina, Nor Malina Malek and Salfarina, Abdul Gapor. “Cultural and religious tolerance and acceptance in urban housing: a study of multi-ethnic Malaysia.” Asian Social Science 8.2 (2012): 112-118. Print.
Neal, Lynn. “The first prejudice: religious tolerance and intolerance in early America.” Journal of Church and State 53.3 (2011): 497-499. Print.
Quinn, Philip L. “On religious diversity & tolerance.” Daedalus 134.1 (2005): 136-139. Print.
Schmidt-Leukel, Perry. “Beyond tolerance: towards a new step in inter-religious relationships.” Scottish Journal of Theology 55.4 (2002): 379-391. Print.