Encarta Encyclopedia puts forth Pluralism as “Theory that reality is composed of many parts and that no single explanation or view of reality can account for all aspects of life. Pluralism also refers to the acceptance of many groups in society or many schools of thought in an intellectual or cultural discipline.”
Before, sharing my views and personal understandings on this term I would like to raise some questions that need to be answered. It’s quite obvious that being a very important notion of man to co-exist in societies be it of any form or origin man has strived to formulate theories to ensure his survival amongst its worst enemy-(ies) which is not interestingly an animal of other specie but his own replica, another human being who may put a question mark on his survival.
It is also a well established fact that though scientifically life depends on water, food and air basically, man’s secondary requirements are also of immense importance that comes in the form of a mentally sound environment where he is guaranteed a secured life that our world is rapidly losing, unfortunately.
The question is what’s the relevancy of Pluralism in today’s world? Why do people run to old literature to find justification for it? Why would a person need to read about it? If at all it has got a relevancy, who are those peoples who need to heed more to it?
Let me go through the basic theories that formulate our societies. To begin with, I would like to refer to Karen Armstrong’s “A history of God” where she quotes historical facts related to the life of ancient world and how man developed his theory of God and how each community of interpretation stuck to its interpretation. This provides a great deal of hint on understanding that human society hasn’t ever followed a straight line of intellectual development during the course of its survival rather it has been a mosaic one.
One which has seen ups and down owing primarily to the reality of lack of contact between the peoples of one corner of the world with the other. However, this excuse is no more valid as we all strive in a globalized world where every person on this part of the world can establish with the other person on the other corner through one or the other source.
Human intellectual development has been closely related to the rationalistic approaches of man himself. Human history has produced great geniuses through out its course but rather than individual it has been a development by the masses themselves whereby these individuals have been a catalyst in their times and a source of inspiration for the later generations. Here the importance of pluralism comes to be understood where a society is divided sharply on the bases of race, language, religion, culture, etc. The most important thing in today’s world is the acceptance of religious pluralism. Today a negligible population may care about racism, or difference in language but a minority using the slogan of religion can deeply penetrate its extreme views into the youth of society.
Religious Pluralism has surfaced to be of greater importance than others by injecting into the minds of man of today and especially of those interested in understanding the reality, the absolute reality can’t be one-dimensional, unidirectional or as solid as scientifically established laws. It can be approached from every direction as that reality (if there is) belongs to everyone on the earth. That reality belongs to everyone as well played in the movie “Marmulak” the Lizard (Iranian Comedy). God needs not to be God of only few good guys, He is and must be the God of prisoners, the thieves, the rapists, the corrupts, the killers, those who commit suicide, whereas, He is the God of the good people, the generous, the kind, the merciful, the philanthropists etc. All the humans on the globe has a share to that eternal reality in whose search a group may associate itself with any particular creed. The interesting point to be noticed is all these creeds teach you good deeds, none motivates to destruction or to bad deeds. We need to remember the three basics of Zoroastrianism i.e. Guftar-e-Naik, Kirdar-e-Naik wa Pindar-e-Naik“Good talks, Good Character and Good thoughts”. These thoughts prevailed much before the advent of Islam. These thoughts place importance on the principles of human ethics; nowhere does it deal with race, language, religion or culture.
Therefore, it can easily be established that both monotheistic religions particularly the Abrahamic Traditions of which Islam is a part and the other polytheistic religions strongly believe in Pluralism. And it is a credit for Muslims to take up the cause in its truest essence and spread the message of love and togetherness rather than isolation and hatred.
It is also quite well established that the earth appears as one in space as exclaimed by the first American astronaut. Why do we human beings draw imaginary lines of division among the peoples of one culture and the other? Whereas the human nature is to live in harmony with one another and the nature, why do certain elements tend to go against it?
At the end let me put forth a selected Poem originally in Persian by Saadi Shirazi of Iran which is also decorated on the entrance gate of the UN General Assembly Hall that represents the human nature of Pluralistic view.
“Of One Essence is the human race,
Thusly Creation has put the base,
One limb affected is sufficient,
For the rest to feel the mace.”