Race and religion essay

Also anyone who converted to Islam or was converted by force could be considered a Moor. So the term Moor could refer to a Muslim with dark skin, a Christian with dark skin or a Muslim with light skin, no matter if they were born Muslims or converted to Islam at some point.

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Many researchers nowadays believe that Othello most probably was a light-skinned Arab or an olive skinned Spaniard, who seemed dark to the especially at that time very pale British and was associated with the exoticism of Moors and Muslims. Especially because of expeditions and the beginning of the colonization, the topic of confrontation with exotic strangers became more and more important. Through these explorers, but more importantly through increasing trade with other countries, new maps became available and exotic foreigners came into the country — at first mainly as slaves, but there were also visits of merchants and foreign royalty.

Even though these foreigners were seen as fascinating and curious, they were also feared as being racially and sexually different. Otherness was seen as a threat to the social, moral and sexual order of society. Especially black men were said to have an animal-like hyper-sexuality for example.

Sociology for UPSC -- IAS : Religion - PART 4 - Religion and Science - Lecture 87

Even before that black people had been brought to England by travelers and exhibited in circuses or other public places. As mentioned above, they usually became slaves or servants later on. So it is safe to say that Shakespeare and the people of his time not only knew about black people but probably had actually seen a few — since their increased number was obviously giving cause for alarm, which would also have harmed their reputation.

They were treated as celebrities and Shakespeare probably even performed for the Ambassador. Under King James I. There are several sources that Shakespeare might have known and could have used for Othello. Ayana Thompson states in her introduction to the Arden Shakespeare of Othello.

Essay Religion and Racism

And as we can see in Othello it can lead to new works of utmost literary quality. The Geographical History of Africa , the first book about African geography and ethnography seems to have been another influential source for Shakespeare. He was captured by pirates and gifted to Pope Leo X, who then christened him and gave him a new name: Johannes Leo Africanus cf. Thompson For the setting in Venice he seems to have used various sources concerning social and political structures in Venice, as well as reports from travelers and a Venetian ambassador cf.

But Shakespeare took the play and transformed it into something deeper, more facetted:.

How The Paths Of Religion And Racism

While Cinthio's tale has a didactic purpose - to warn young girls not to marry 'a man whom Nature, Heaven, and manner of life separate' from them - Shakespeare's Othello resists this simplistic moral thrust. Desdemona, unlike Disdemona, dies protecting Othello and continuing to pledge her love for him Thompson But Shakespeare also managed to make his Moor a noble and tragic hero, not just the husband that kills his wife believing he has been thwarted. Muslim and Christian converts might fulfil the first two criteria but they did not envision the subcontinent, defined since antiquity as the land between the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean, as sacred - it was in Mecca and Rome that their sacred sites were located.

While the inclusive nationalism of Gandhi, Nehru and assorted political leaders came from direct experience of fighting for freedom, Hindutva was constructed by thinkers who were not active participants in the struggle against imperialism. Golwalkar, built on this and rejected the notion of territorial nationalism, as promoted by Gandhi, Nehru and the freedom fighters.

Are they grateful…? Do they feel that they are the children of this land… Do they feel it a duty to serve her? Together with the change in faith, gone are the spirit of love and devotion for the nation. But this predictably controversial Hindutva vision existed largely on the fringes of society. While the inclusive nationalism of Gandhi, Nehru and assorted political leaders came from direct experience of fighting for freedom, Hindutva was constructed by thinkers who were not active participants in the struggle against imperialism and therefore could fabricate theories divorced from the lived experience of the masses.

In actual fact, most Hindus hardly saw themselves as a fixed, united group who could transform that identity into a rock-solid sense of nationalism. Even the question of who exactly a Hindu was, in practical terms, remained frustratingly unresolved. But caste appeared among Muslims and Christians also. Some, such as a Brahmin census commissioner in princely Travancore, argued that Hindus were those who accepted the faith of the Brahmins, which, however, ran into trouble when one considers the words of J. Massie, who as early as pointed out that to consider the Brahmin as representative of all Hindus was as bewildering a statement as saying that the Italians represented all Europeans—there was too much diversity for simplistic statements to be true.


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The issue of diversity and nationalism and whether they complement or oppose each other, then, boils down to which vision of the nation is embraced. One can assert proudly a patriotism that rises over and above other feelings, without clashing with individual and group identities. In this vision of the nation, nationalism is not a zero-sum game; it can coexist with a variety of other valid sentiments. It draws wisdom from the past, but is oriented towards a progressive future. As Nehru saw it, it was predicated on a national philosophy featuring the seven goals of unity, parliamentary democracy, scientific temper, non-alignment, socialism, industrialisation and secularism.

Some of these values may change with time, as we evolve as a people, but the Indian nation is not threatened if a state voices sharp concerns, or if raucous debate and disagreement take place routinely, so long as they occur within established institutions and in keeping with certain ground rules by which everybody agrees to play. Indeed, it creates checks and balances that prevents any one group from dominating the rest; any one region from engulfing others; and one version of a religion from enforcing its principles on even the last rationalist, or those who believe in a different definition of the same religion.

The principle was that we could all continue to embrace our differences while staying wedded to a national consensus. The other vision of nationalism, meanwhile, has mutated into a one-size-fits-all variant, which is at odds with history, and denies consensus as the guiding principle of the nation. This is a nationalism that follows one definition, one form, one loyalty, and one narrow ideology. So, for instance, all Hindus must avoid eating beef though several castes happily did in the past and should avoid meat in general though a number of Brahmin communities too were not vegetarian.

Nationalism must have a fixed language—Sanskrit is ideal but in the interim, Hindi will do - a language that to large numbers of Indians is hardly less alien than English, with which the country has made its peace. And then dress codes, social behaviour and much else must also fall in line, creating more a sharp machine to nurse insecurities than an organic people who live, breathe, prosper and preserve their diverse traditions and personalities. One-size-fits-all rules, however, have a tendency to backfire in India. And decades and generations of officially promoting diversity means that attempting to reverse the flow and manufacture a narrow nationalism will provoke challenges, if not long-term disaster.

When, for instance, Hindi nationalism was force-fed from Delhi, the powers in Karnataka responded in with a Kannada-oriented sub-nationalism that even flew its own flag. The historical lesson is clear - there was a reason why in India prevented nationalism from distorting into a rigid beast and envisioned it as a more malleable reflection of our multiple realities. To re-engineer this mature, long-standing policy in black and white today will only prove calamitous, showing that far from making India great again, what we will end up doing is breaking India.

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  • Designed and Developed by Yodasoft. Skip to main content. Updated: 14 Aug Issue: September 6, The Constitution is built around the principle that Indians can love their country without surrendering any other equally legitimate identity. Ideas to think about on 15 August.

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