From the practice of ‘tawaf’ — going around the Kaaba — to ‘umrah’ — the pilgrimage of which ‘tawaf’ is a part — everything has been stopped in Mecca. Pilgrimage to Muhammad’s burial site in Medina has also been halted. Quite possibly, they will stop the Hajj as well. Numerous mosques have cancelled Friday prayers. In Kuwait, new azaan can be heard asking the people to stay at home for prayers. Clerics are no longer claiming they will go to the mosques and pray before Allah to save people from the virus.
That is because the businessmen of religion know very well that Allah will not save us from the novel coronavirus. If anyone can, it’s the scientists, who are busy finding a vaccine, a cure.
The ones who should be truly surprised by such a turn of event, the ones who should have a lot of questions, are the idiots who believe in religion. The ones who flock together like sheep and follow the herd without asking where or why. Neither do they ever seek proof of god’s existence, nor do they have any faith in rational and free thought. Are they not curious today as to why their religious institutions, the ones that are supposed to help them find refuge against disease, have shut their doors? Is serving the common people not the actual purpose of these religious institutions?
Gods are saviours for many, the ones they pray to throughout the year for protection. But when humanity is in peril, it is usually the gods who flee first.
From Vatican to temples, gods are fleeing
Coronavirus has been detected in the Vatican too, the holiest of all places for Catholics. Apparently, the Pope can communicate with god. But why is he not doing that now? Even he has not been able to lead us to any wonder drug revealed to him by divine intervention. Instead, the Vatican is reeling from fears of a viral outbreak and the Pope is not appearing in front of people. Numerous Christian religious festivals are held there. Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter, and all other upcoming events stand cancelled and congregations have been prohibited.
Brahmin priests in Hindu temples are moving around wearing masks. In fact, in some temples, they have put masks on the idols of gods and goddesses too. The Hindu Mahasabha has organised a cow urine party because the outfit believes gaumutra will prevent COVID-19. Some have chosen to cover, even bathe, themselves in cow dung because apparently cow dung acts as a shield against the virus. Religions and superstitions are usually complementary. The Tarapith temple is shut, there are no long queues of people seeking flowers, blessings or holy water. Tirupati temple and Shirdi Sai Baba temple have also put in restrictions. The evening puja and the aarti are being projected on a big screen at Kolkata’s Belur Math.
Isn’t that incredible? Where is god then? Do religious people not have this question?
What’s the point of religious places?
Governments everywhere should stop all grants and subsidies that are guaranteed to religious institutions. The popes, priests, clerics and sundry religious heads of the world are feeding off people’s hard-earned money but come to no actual use to them in times of need. Instead, they are force-feeding people untruths and unscientific facts, sexually abusing children and pronouncing misogynous judgements from time to time. What is the use of such institutions? What have all these religions done over the centuries other than causing harm? Other than perpetuating abuse of women, riots, partitions, bloodshed and pervasive hate?
Religious structures should be repurposed for the betterment of people as museums, science academies, laboratories and art schools. Nature has demonstrated again and again, science has proved again and again, that there is no god and religion is a fairytale. Although many people have managed to extricate themselves from the jaws of religion, especially in the more developed parts of the world, one can find a hyper-reliance on gods and worship wherever poverty, social inequalities, misogyny and barbarism are acutely present.
Science, for god’s sake
It’s been nearly 160 years since Charles Darwin disproved the existence of god by his theory of evolution. Humans were not made by a Creator, they evolved from apes. Long before Darwin, 16th-century figures such as Galileo and his predecessor Copernicus had shown that the biblical notions of space and cosmos were wrong. Despite this, most people in the world have continued to believe in the divine. Their invisible gods have remained invisible, no proof of their existence has been found to date, but blind faith has persisted.
And now with the coronavirus pandemic spreading from one person to another, country after country, most religious gatherings and congregations are shut. People who would otherwise run to their nearby temples, mosques, churches and other places of worship to seek protection from illnesses and diseases have nowhere to go — except hospitals and isolation centres.
So, the facts as they stand now are clear: diseases are not cured by Allah, God or Bhagwan; diseases are cured by scientists. Human beings are not saved by supernatural powers but by other human beings. Religious people are no longer waiting for benevolence from their respective gods; they are waiting for a vaccine.
Isn’t it time people cast aside their religious madness and embrace reason?
The author is a writer and commentator. Views are personal.