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Religion As A Means For Political And Economic Gains - Essay Example

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Religion As A Means For Political And Economic Gains

This statement will be tested through qualitative analysis of the existing literature on religion and a case study of Taliban. By looking into the question of whether Pakistan used Islam through Talibanization of Afghanistan essentially to stem the growing Pashtun nationalist movement, I will attempt to show that religion was used for political gains and virtually economic gains by a country which broke apart at the hands of a similar nationalist movement three decades ago. The outcome of this research can help to bring us closer to understanding religion and add to an ongoing debate on religion and its correlation with politics and economy.

Keywords: religion, religious exploitation, religious values, fundamentalism, Taliban, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Pashtunistan

Research Design in Anthropology (Final Project)

The main function of religion is maintaining a desirable social order which protects the individuals and the society from physical and emotional harm caused by fellow members and "promises deliverance from deprivation" (Columbia Encyclopedia), but since it has the ability to gain a high level of acceptability among its followers, sometimes to the level of reverence, it demands a blind faith from who follow the rituals without reasoning. In their introduction to the first volume of the famed "Fundamentalism Project, " Fundamentalisms Observed, editors Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby (1991) claim that the religious aspect of fundamentalism tends to express itself in the following four ways: as a "fighting for" the worldview associated with the religion; a "fighting with" the myths, traditions and doctrines created by the religion; a "fighting against" those who do not subscribe to the religion; and finally, a "fighting under" the god or other transcendent reference thought to be the religion's ultimate source. In under-developed societies religion has a stronger hold over the poor and the powerless who seek protection in its name and solace when they when they fail to achieve the desired goals in life. Since the clergy claim ownership of religion their role becomes the most important for the society as well as for the individual, sometimes even more important than God himself. Some high-priests become so powerful that their ascendancy rivals the powers of the rulers and other pressure groups. Thus religion commands absolute obedience from the poor and the powerless which enslaves them to the custodians of religion namely the clergy which in turn gives them the power to alter social behavior. More recently, such a phenomenon has come to be identified as "fundamentalism" whereby the clergy and associates have sought or achieved change of social, political and economic nature. "Any socio-political movement that requires of its members a strict adherence to specified "fundamentals" or doctrines; that seeks to impose those fundamentals, by persuasion or force, on any who are outside the movement; and that claims for its motivation in doing so a divine, or otherwise transcendentally grounded, mandate." (Carr & Saha, 2001) This has happened in some societies while elsewhere other social factors emerged to mollify or cancel the magic of the religion and its custodians such as interfaith or sectarian rivalry, rise of progressive forces which further the power of reasoning and science and so on. History is full of incidents where clergy using religious edicts and faith have tried to alter social ...Show more


Carr & Saha (2001) state thus [religious] “fundamentalism is a reactionary gesture in a world that is moving too fast toward conformity and unity; a world that demands tolerance for the sake of the “new world order.” …
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Religion As A Means For Political And Economic Gains
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