Promoting Intrinsic Religiosity in
Minority-Majority Relationships:
A Proposal
Dr. Asoke Kumar Saha
Department of Psychology
Jagannath University, Dhaka-1100

According to Webster's International Dictionary, religion is defined as "the personal commitment to and serving of God or a god with worshipful devotion; conduct in accord with divine commands especially as found in accepted sacred writings or declared by authoritative teachers, a way of life recognized as incumbent on true believers, and typically the relating of oneself to an organized body of believers." All major religions have two aspects: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic religiosity is externally visible in religious practices. It includes prayers, clothing, religious languages, symbols, costumes, etc. On the other hand, intrinsic religiosity refers to ethical principles and code of conduct. Behavioral value systems of all religions are common and identical in nature irrespective of ecology, demography and race. Functionally, the meaning of the word God, Ishwar, Allaha, Vogoban, Provhu, etc. is the same. All religions teach -us that faith, truth and kindness, peace, noble work, compassion, generosity, ungrudging helps to the helpless etc are part of ethical codes of all religions.

Discrimination among various religious groups originates from extrinsic religiosity, and leads to emergence of in-group and out-group distinction. Contemporary religious violence in different parts of the world originates from extrinsic practices of different religious groups. Thus, all over the world, especially in South East Asia, minority-majority relationships are adversely influenced by practices of extrinsic religiosity at the cost of undermining the core of intrinsic religiosity, which is the inner core of all religions. Extrinsic religiosity breeds discrimination, promotes hostility and rivalry, while intrinsic religiosity promotes unity, tolerance, trust building and social harmony. In order to banish all negative thoughts against any religion, it is essential that positive attitudes towards all religions be promoted by social scientists in general and psychologists in particular.

With the help of persuasive communication and organized efforts for creating social service organizations it is possible to minimize hatred behavior and religious discrimination. Thus, in the present situation there is a tremendous need to investigate the impact of the intrinsic religiosity of Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam using psychological techniques to create awareness to encourage positive feelings and friendly social interaction.

The basic methodology for achieving the aforementioned goal, overall effort need to be designed based on a pyramid model in the beginning. Firstly, these initiatives can be a group of 20 to 25 persons, drawn from different religious groups in a particular region. This group will be subjected to have intensive discussion and brainstorming on the essential unit of ethical principles in all religions. Several meetings on these intrinsic religiosity concepts will definitely increase the tolerance and enhance inter religious harmony, which will ultimately mediate any peace process and will reduce tension. After training the group it will be divided into 5 subgroups. Each subgroup will repeat the procedures used originally. This process of unity promotion will increase in geometrical progression. While this is going on, the author will assess the progress through action research method, and improve the procedure if and when necessary. In a couple of years it is expected that the harmonious inter-religious relationships will become easily perceptible. This experimental method can be used in cities that are more vulnerable of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South East Asian country where constant religious tension exists due to different religious practices.

The effect of this study shall be assessed after one year as a result of application of the psychological techniques. Later, if the results are encouraging, the experiment may be repeated for other Asian countries where inter-religious tensions are creating social disorder and corrosion of healthy social life and unhealthy political practices. This policy seems to work as molecular efforts with a goal of mountainous effects in promoting inter-religious harmony and brotherhood. These can be done through an emphasis on the unity of intrinsic religiosity that underlines all religions. Once tested, the procedure shall have the potential to become an effective social movement culminating in worldwide change achieving peace and harmony.

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Monday, April 09, 2012

The Bangladesh Journal of Psychology (the official Journal of the BPA)