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ctg_ramu_Budho_Murti_12When I was around 12 years old, my father told me, “But no! A Cox’s Bazar trip cannot be complete without a visit to Ramu”. And thus, we embarked on a foot trip through the greenery of Ramu, to visit the most awe-inspiring Buddha statue I have ever seen, my first visit to a Buddhist monastery too! And I fell in love with the peaceful sight, right at first sight. While, over the years, I have never gotten the chance to revisit my childhood beauty, today, I feel empty, as someone has permanently erased a part of my memory; a memory I cherished for so long. If this is how I feel, I wonder how the locals feel, people who have grown up with it, and cherished it, sacredly, everyday; except, they are perhaps more devastated by their ransacked and looted houses and livelihoods right now. But who am I to ask such questions, after all, I also belong to the monstrous majority clan. I should hide myself in disgrace for what have been done to them by my Muslim brothers.

I feel sad reading news piling one after another — attacks on Buddhists and Hindus in Ramu, Patia, Ukhia… and I for the first time feel ashamed of being a Bangladeshi. I feel extreme anger as I ask for the zillionth time since September 11th, why do us Muslims need a constant reminder of the fact that, “Islam is a religion of Peace?” – cause we don’t follow what we preach.

My friend tells me, “The government will have to rebuild those temples, and even more gloriously,” and I ask, “Who is going to bring back the hundreds of years of heritage that we have lost in the process?” “Who is going to counsel the child who watched her village burn in horror?” “Will these people ever live peacefully and in harmony again?” It is beyond me, how people ever come to bring themselves to do such destruction and harm, but then again, we live in a world where, seeing is believing.

The recent attack on Islam has given our fanatic Muslims in Bangladesh, yet another excuse to pick on everyone and anyone who thinks differently. I remember how extremists cut beards and hair of bauls in Rajbari a few months ago, as I still wonder what happened to the Sufi followers from Kushtia who the Muslim mobs attacked few weeks ago, and watch the silence regarding the issue among the civil society. I wonder if we have forgotten that our country was once founded through the bloodshed of millions, based on a secular constitution.  Then again, I wonder, does profanity justify destruction?

Why are we so scared of speaking up against these atrocities today? Feeling too religious? Too scared about what might happen to our “image”, “diplomatic” and “trade” relations? Or are we hiding in seclusion cause we feel apathetic to all these; cause we feel safe and sound at home? Fanatics today are not only attacking our diverse religious sects, but also attacking at the heart of our culture. Remember the Ramna Batamul bombing on Pahela Baishakh and at an Udichi Shilpi Goshti programme? It could have been one of us there, dead that day! Or maybe we might have fallen victim to one of the synchronized near to 500 bombings by fanatics in 2005?

Rise up together in solidarity, against the extremist uprising trying to take over our beloved Bangladesh today! And let our religion be “humanity”.

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule – Gautama Buddha.


Mehzabin Ahmed is a development practitioner.

12 Responses to “Let our religion be humanity”

  1. Mong Pru

    This particular article makes me go back to the day I first visited Ramu. Then in later years I visited Nepal, where the ancient images and monasteries have been preserved so beautifully and visitors get amazed at the sites. Then i went to Thailand where the old relics and architecture have been preserved for visitors, scholars, and of course, the pilgrims. What did Ramu have that all those sites in foreign lands missed? The carving skill of those carpenters and artists who carved meticulously the wooden panels, doors, cornices, of the Burmese teak monastery of Ramu. That too aging close to 250 years! How could a teak-wood structure stand so long weathering all those monsoons, which when we were very young, was close to 300 inches of rain annually? Then in one midnight swoop all were gone at a flicker of gunpowder and a matchstick. Besides the religious value, I think the historical and the human value that Bangladesh could be proud of vanished. It was a loss that Bangladesh could never afford to.

  2. Niaz

    That’s a nice piece of write-up. Though I consider humanity as my ONLY faith, most people would not probably agree with you to accept this vision as their religion. Nonetheless, if they, at least, apply the notion of humanity in their life, we won’t have to see another Ramu indecent in Bangladesh.

  3. Raphael Palma

    Dear Mehzabin,
    I have gone through your write-up. This is wonderfully presented. I congratulate you for such a nice peace. Your saying is my saying. Thanks.
    Raphael Palma

  4. lukman

    I appreciate the writing! sister! I have a problem with the message “let religion be humanity”. I don’t think its the proper message towards a (young) Muslim which might lead him/her astray from real Islam.

  5. Yamuna Zaman

    Does God know exactly what Satan/Iblish will be doing next?
    In theory, the philosophy and teachings of “Religions” are uniquely noble, kind and generous. But in practice, it looks like the “Religions” have been creating “Divisions” among the creations of God Himself for thousands of years. Any idea why?

    Prime Minister Sk. Hasina has categorically mentioned of BNP/JAMAAT members who were the culprits behind this hate crime. After her comment, should there be any further investigation at all? Sheikh Hasina should take a good look at herself instead.

  6. Shamim

    So invent a religion called humanity. This is way out for the non-believers…


  7. ahmed ziauddin

    We are being dispossessed from our own land but doing nothing. I hope your call to “raise up” gets answered.

  8. G F Hamim

    An inspiring must read write up. The true spirit of Islam is vanishing at the hands of some so called ‘Muslims.’ Who would stop these fanatic zealots, I have no idea. As felt by the author, I’m equally sad and angry.

    • Ershad Mazumder

      The info is one Uttam Barua released a pics of Mohammad(PUB) on facebook. Some people saw it and spread the info. Just for politics AL, BNP and some madrassahs brought out procession to condemn facebook pics without any confirmation and verification. Meanwhile, some invisible and unseen well organized people took advantage of the situation and brought a group people to attack temples of buddhists community. The local leaders know who did it and who hired all those attackers to tarnish the image of Bangladesh. But unfortunately the government is trying to extract political advantage of the situation.

  9. Mir Md. Saki Kowsar

    Dear Ms. Mehzabin Ahmed
    No Muslim can be harmful to humanity and even to the nature. So they are not your Muslim brothers and the follower of great prophet Hz. Muhammand (pbuh). They are perpetrator in the name of religion.

    You need not to call our religion to be humanity. Humanity and justice established by the Islam with the constitution of ‘Charter of Madina’ which is drafter by our Prophet.

    So hate the beast and demand their punishment.

  10. Ershad Mazumder

    I do support your opinion and feeling.Those who did it are very young.I am sure they have been incited by some quarter with a political motive to tarnish the image of Bangladesh. Do not brand them muslim.They have no religion. They are just hooligans and work on hire.Now, we shall have to find out who are the people working behind the scene.

  11. Ram Chandra Das

    Thanks for sharing your feelings. Our heads are rotten, therefore it is very difficult to move towards humanity. But still we have to be optimistic.

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