4 Most Misunderstood Religious Concepts
Religion is a tricky and complex subject and opinions on it can easily vary from person to person, since religion is subjective and personal and each person has his own set of beliefs and values which affect his religious attitude and outlook. Here are four religious concepts commonly misunderstood by people all over the world which plays an important role in their attitude towards world religions.
Paganism: The word paganism immediate brings to mind devil worship, witchcraft and an entire bunch of other dark images of an ancient cult. But paganism is in fact a beautiful concept which exhorts its followers to have a direct connection with the Divine, with no impediments and barriers. So each pagan can have his own set of beliefs, completely different from other pagans and yet own the title of being a pagan. He doesn’t have to adhere to a fixed set of rules, instructions or guidelines. Like most ancient religions, paganism is a polytheist religion which worships various forms of nature. But unlike other religions which sprung up from a particular country or region, paganism has always existed worldwide, although in slightly different versions everywhere. In fact, it is probably the primeval religion of the world, from which other ancient as well as modern religions came into existence.
Satanism: Unlike what its name implies, Satanism is simply not the worship of Satan! It is about being your own god and is still different from atheism, which believes that there is no god. Satanism believes in self-empowerment, independence, individualism and self-reliance, which are not negative traits, are they? Even Satanism has two forms: theist Satanism and the atheist form. While atheist Satanism is all about the acknowledgment of the Supreme Self, the theist form worships Satan (here, Satan means the human nature only and not the evil, demonic version in the Bible!) or the Self as a deity.
Jihad: Jihad, an Islamic concept which is commonly misinterpreted by people all over the world, including Muslims, as the Arabic term for holy war. In reality, itrefers to the internal struggle of a believer to follow the spiritual path designed for him. This internal struggle is faced by not only Islamic believers, but also by believers of other religions, making it a universal issue and not just an Islamic one. Jihad is not a violent concept as is imagined by most believers, although it advises violence as the last resort to take to defend the faith. Even then, it does not advocate attacking other faiths and warns against harming women, children and the disabled. It involves the practice of one’s faith to the fullest possible ability, overcoming physical, mental, emotional and spiritual barriers and rising above them to find Allah or God. But sadly, the beautiful idea behind this term has been reduced by violent extremists to nothing more than a synonym for sponsored terrorism.
Voodoo: We couldn’t just complete the list without mentioning voodoo, the ancient African religion which has been portrayed so wrongly in popular culture. The voodoo stuff we watch on the big screen and television and read about in novels totally don’t get it right. That is the reason why we have such twisted misconceptions about this ancient religious practice, which is actually a peaceful and liberal religion. Like paganism, it encourages believers to discover their own personal relationship with the spiritual realm and allows for differences in beliefs and practices. But in spite of their differences, voodooists stay together as a community, united in its purpose of finding God through personal experience.