I believe in…it’s a tough question. To me, believing something is like to think of something as very static, as if it will never change. We conceptualise religion – whether Islam, Christianity or some other, as something which will be the same and prevail over time. But to me…I doubt that. Because to me, it’s people who make religion, who give meaning to religion. Like, in terms of relationships, in terms of good, bad, this sort of thing, these are very related things to me. So to me, I really don’t believe in any sort of thing. Because, like Nietzsche says, there is only interpretation, no fact. What I see, what I can feel, I want to situate them in a particular context, why this is like that. I want to understand how things work.
From my very childhood and experiences in my family I saw that positions can change. I was born and raised in a village in Bangladesh, it’s a so-called ‘marginal’ place. And I saw that sometimes my father would say something about religion: that you have to do this because religion requires that, but at the same he doesn’t do those religious things. People use religion for their own interest, for their own purpose. After that, you know, I read a lot of literature, like classics, Russian novels, English novels. The literature also helped me to gain an understanding of a different version of religion, of believing, of interpretation. And after that I studied Anthropology, and I did a course in the Anthropology of Religion, which showed me that there are so many religions, so many different groups of people. If one said, ‘this is the ultimate religion’, the other will say, ‘no this is the ultimate religion’. And that is the main reason for conflict and disaster. There is a lack of flexibility in religions. Of course every religion is saying, ‘don’t discriminate against others, don’t kill others on the basis of your religion’, but everyone is doing just that. So from that perspective I think it’s just not going to work. Better to just see people as people. I guess I believe it’s better not to believe.
I’m doing a Master’s now, and I’m teaching, and it would be as if I would read one article on migration, and think, ‘yes, that’s it, that’s why people move’, and not read anything else.
Taking this position, I face challenges everyday, with my family, with my wife…For example, before marriage, when I was in a relationship with my wife, I said so many things in that time, and she said so many things. But as time goes by some things change, but she doesn’t believe that. She says, ‘no you said this, so you have to stick to that’. But it’s so difficult to make someone understand that that’s not how I see things right now. Because people can change, their beliefs can change. It’s an individual process, nothing is permanent…But it creates problems, in personal life, in professional life. Maybe some people can really be consistent, and I also respect that. Also, their religious beliefs may be consistent.
Shakespeare said, ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’ [Hamlet Act II Scene II]. What is good, what is bad? I’m not sure. Sometimes I think something’s good, but later I think it’s bad. So that changes too.