Karim F Hirji is a retired Professor of Medical Statistics and a Fellow of the Tanzania Academy of Sciences. A recognized authority on statistical analysis of small sample discrete data, the author of the only book on the subject, he…
Religion, Politics and Society: A progressive primer
Religion, Politics and Society covers the four major global religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam—several minor religions—African Folk Religion, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Confucianism, Seventh Day Adventism, Sikhism—as well as Secularism. Its foundational premise is that while their spiritual beliefs differ, all humans are equal in dignity and have equal rights. No belief system is more exalted than the rest. There are no chosen people; there is no chosen religion. We all are a part of the global human family. Our religious and cultural diversity is a cause for celebration, not conflict. (see more below under Details)
Written by Karim F Hirji, a retired professor of Medical Statistics, Religion, Politics and Society focuses on the four major global religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam—together with minor religions like the Ahmadiyya, Confucianism, Sikhism, Seventh Day Adventism and Traditional African Religion as well as on Secularism, New Age beliefs and the ancient Paleolithic and Neolithic era belief systems to explore the origin, spiritual import and social function of religion in human society. Utilizing the canons, beliefs, practices, history, eminent personages, institutions of the diverse faiths, it tackles matters like: How did the social function of religion evolve over time? How does religion relate to the power structure of society? Does religion promote or hinder social harmony, justice and equality? Under what circumstances? Is religion necessary for morality? What are the roots of interfaith conflict? How do modern religions and neoliberalism interact with each other? Does religion have a future? Can religion and secularism be harnessed for resolving the globally vexing yet pivotal concerns of human society? If so, how?
These and related issues are tackled with the help of a variety of past and contemporary individual level and broader type of richly illustrated examples. The role of women in religion a topic of focus throughout the text. The varied functions of religion under slavery, feudalism, capitalism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism. socialism, and neoliberalism are also attended to.
The foundational premise of this book is that while spiritual beliefs differ, all humans are equal in dignity and have equal rights. No religion is more exalted than others; there are no chosen people. We all belong to the global human family. Our religious and cultural diversity is a cause for celebration, not conflict.
Respectful in style and targeted towards the general and knowledgeable readers, Religion, Politics and Society is the first of a two-book project. The second book, Religion, Science and the Pandemic, addresses the relationship between religion, science and mathematics and deals with role played by religion in the eugenic era and the corona virus pandemic. Unlike most books on the social function of religion, these two books shine a progressive, humanistic light on the subject matter.
The key objective of these books is to help uplift the quality and tenor of the current discourse on religion and explore how faith can promote human dignity, equality, social justice and harmony. They underscore the point that though a dialogue on religion and society has to be conducted in civil tones, it should not desist from bringing unsavory realities to the fore. A genuine consensus and peaceful coexistence cannot emerge from diluting the truth.
A rich, fascinating intellectual odyssey, this book places religion in a wide historical and politico-economic context to reveal its dynamics and entanglements with multifarious forces that have impacted its development over the centuries. Respectful in tone, vast in scope, thrilling in detail and replete with instructive case studies, it is a journey that challenges common conceptions about human identity, spirituality and purpose.
Professor of Sociolinguistics and Cultural Studies
This astonishingly wide-ranging and generous work explores the role of religion in societies through time and across the world, and its relationship to politics and economics, art and culture. It is a book about humanity’s search for truth, both in the physical and metaphysical spheres, a search often corrupted by power and greed, but with the potential for showing us how to live well together on our beautiful but threatened planet.
Elizabeth Jones, MA
Teacher, Quaker, Former Co-editor of Christian Today, UK
This is a fact-based book that genuinely expresses things as they are. Some will criticize it, others will praise it, openly or privately. In the end I believe that the world will be a better place due to the tolerance that it will inject into the society.
Mahmood Hameer, MBChB, MMed (Pediatrics)
This brilliant empathetic exploration of religion encompasses Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism together with folk religions, some smaller religions, Confucianism and secularism. Hirji convincingly argues that whatever the originating theology, which frequently challenged existing power structures, in practice religions are colored by the social, economic, political and cultural context and tend to serve power. And yet, the original theological message also becomes a vehicle for continued resistance to power. Besides summarizing the beliefs and structures of religions, this book pays particular attention to the role of women in religion and the relationship between religion and neo-liberalism.
Emeritus Professor of Law
University of Warwick