We should realize that we as human beings are different in color, race, ethnicity, and religious and
cultural background. Consequently, this diversity has an impact on our thought, and perspective. But unfortunately, this diversity became a plea to justify hostility, hatred, and different forms of violence
throughout the globe.
The greatest obstacle which hinders effective communication between us is these thoughts and stereotypes, which we believe about others. This leads us to misjudge others, and thus we become incapable of recognizing or accepting them as they really are. Simply because we are secluded, and being captivated by our preconceptions.
One of the most deadly thoughts we have is: religious stereotypes! It is simply to believe in and to judge others according to their religion. This will lead us to judge them before even dealing with them, and to being entrapped in generalization!
Being a Muslim, I’ve heard a lot that “Muslims are terrorists”! this conception classifies all Muslims as terrorists, particularly after 11 September. In addition, trying to deform Islam in many ways! I always say that having some group of terrorists among Muslims, doesn’t necessarily mean that all Muslims are terrorists. This is unfair. Those terrorists, whatever their religion is, are only offending themselves, and it is unethical to attack their religion because of their actions, or even to over generalize and accuse all who belong to their religion.
I would like to draw your attention to a vital matter, which is: we have to identify the difference between religion – rules and essence – and its followers. undoubtedly, great men like: prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zardasht, Confucius, and lao Tzu came with an ethical and pure message, emancipate the individual, guide him on the way to understand himself and urge
him to do the good. Thus, the defect doesn’t lie in Islam, but in the way Muslims perceive Islam, and this applies to all other religions and teachings. In other words, the followers or adherents of the religion are the ones who deform and misuse it, especially politicians and clergymen!
I disagree with the sociological theory that says that human beings tend – by nature – to categorize and judge others. I believe that they tend to do that unconsciously, being affected by several factors related to education, social environment and media, and so stereotyping is comfortable to them.
I frequently attended discussions tackling religions, and when someone attacks Islam, I reply: “Do you mean Muslims?!” For example in Sri Lanka, some Buddhists do not really practice or apply Buddha teachings, and sometimes they worship him as if he is god! Is it right to generalize and judge
all the Buddhists to be like those?
Actually, Buddha is a great man, and undoubtedly he has nothing to do with these actions!
Finally there are some practical guidelines for minimizing stereotyping:
· Realize that we are all human beings came from one origin, and we all commit mistakes.
· Accept others as they are without preconceptions or judgment.
· Being initiative and open minded helps to break stereotypes.
· Stop generalizing, and identify the difference between religion and its followers.