Monotheistic Religions
By Aisha Yousuf

May 28, 2008
“Oh my Lord.” This phrase is used by all and in circumstances where the unexpected happens or just in general use. Some people who use it practice a religion, and some who use it, get it from the people around them. When the unexpected happens and one is in a compromised situation, they approach God or go to an individual whom they revere and trust. An individual’s faith is based on the religion; however culture sometimes overlooks the religion. Monotheistic religions, in which there is just one God, are based on peace and unity amongst the people of the religion. However cultural differences have created walls between people. Culture has affected the purity of these religions. Various rituals performed are based on cultural practices, and yet they are made to seem as a part of the religion. In many schools, religious scriptures have been manipulated, spun and culturally embellished. In present day society, the world’s three biggest monotheistic religions have been manipulated by cultural influences, making it difficult for people to hold on to.

Various rituals performed are based on cultural practices, but they are made to seem as a part of religion. Female circumcision is performed in the name of Islam in Egypt, but it is not a part of Islam. It is evident that this widely cultural practice has affected the name of Islam and it shows the false side of religion, which is that Islam is not respectful towards the sentiments and desires women hold. This crucial and completely cultural ritual has misled people to believe that circumcision is a religious ritual. The Roman Catholic Christians revere and honor the Virgin Mary more than they worship Jesus. By performing such rituals, Catholics disobey one of the 10 commandments and therefore engage in an act of taboo. This ritual is misinterpreted as a religious ritual because the way Catholics pray and revere Virgin Mary is very similar to the way they pray to their God and Jesus, which affects the religion as a whole because Virgin Mary is not a part of the Holy Trinity, it might be difficult for some new Christians to adhere to. Jewish are only allowed to eat kosher food. Agri Processors is a meat industry that produces kosher meat, the ones working for the industry are not given the proper wages that goes against the teachings of the Torah to protect and abide by rights of a needy person. Abiding by the teachings and guidelines of the Torah is obligatory upon all Jews, just as people can only eat kosher food similarly they must give the needy all of what they deserve. Nevertheless, eating kosher food is culturally given more importance, than for the butchers who work to make the food Kosher. And that puts people and the Kashrut laws at different levels. But religiously, they should be weighed and taken into consideration equally. Unfortunately, today’s culture makes the decision while disregarding what the religion states. In this day and age, cultural rituals that are not differentiated from religious rituals have jeopardized Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

In the many schools of thought within, religious scriptures are manipulated, spun and culturally embellished. Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland warn their worshippers that they should not expect ‘total accuracy’ from the Bible. They have said in the Gift of Scripture, “We should not expect to find in scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision”. This shows that the scholars and religious leaders no longer have answers and in order to escape that, they tell the curious Christians not to seek answers when the entire purpose of the Bible is to serve as a guide to life. Culture-wise people should not ask too many questions. However Christianity has provided the followers with resources for their answers, but people are being discouraged to use those in order to understand the religion. According to Rabbi Michael Broyde’s in Jewish Week states that the current warfare is legitimized in Judaism. And the ‘suspension of our ethical sensibilities’ can occur during this time; however in the Torah it is clearly stated that even necessary war is not a lesser evil. This statement can make peoples’ minds think that if they have a legitimate reason to commit a sin, then they will be forgiven, and that contradicts with the teachings of Torah. The Torah clearly states ‘all is not fair in war.’ However, so present day people can continue to have their convenience, they still interpret the Torah to another level when it is not needed. The Quran says to kill all blasphemers, which is often misinterpreted with ‘ignorant people’ and ‘non –Muslims’. Extremists and sometimes Imams who have misinterpreted the Quran have influenced people who are brought into ‘jihad’ and others who believe that suicide bombings are just. This shows that it has become a part of the culture to approach religious figures for answers. That is acceptable, however in Islam, one is encouraged to search for the answers and refer to various resources. Since people just go to the religious figure, they are taken advantage of their lack of knowledge and are brought into ‘jihad’ by being brainwashed. This act degrades Islam as a religion. It is clear that in present day, some religious figures are corrupted and they misinterpret and manipulate the sacred scriptures of the three monotheistic religions, which have a vast variety of cultures, and in the end it complexes and demoralizes the purpose of practicing a faith.

In present day society, the world’s three main monotheistic religions have been manipulated by cultural influences making them difficult to remain with. This has occurred due to people from different ethnicities setting their own views towards their religion, based on their cultural background. The religions have also been changed by cultural rituals being practiced in the name of a religious ritual and through the misinterpretation of the scriptures. People approach these monotheistic religions to have a guideline to present life and life after death, to understand their purpose and the way the world is created for their benefit. However people have veiled the beauty of these religions with culture, which was not brought down by God, but created by people themselves. Culture should not overcome religion.

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