A few weeks back, we were discussing if religion could become the basis of discrimination between people rather than race. Mahmood Mamdani represents this idea in Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. He explains the happenings behind the September 11th attacks that occurred because of multiple political reasons, but really, the reason behind the discrimination was religious rather than racial; as we have begun to associate Islamic people with terrorism.
I personally do not understand how it is possible for religion to become the main source of conflict between people. There are people of different races within a religion, so the boundaries of discrimination would be a blurred. Discriminating on basis of religion would be very difficult because it would cause one to discriminate against a lot of different people, not just one particular race.
As a result of many different people being of one religion, we will be forced to ask the question, what if the concept of “passing,” as seen in racial passing, became a part of religion as well? In other words, what if people began to pass as a certain religion for safety or advantage that a certain religion had, similarly to what people do when trying to racially pass as something else? For example, there is a huge controversy between Hindus and Muslims in India; most Muslims and Hindus are of the same race so religion is the basis of discrimination. It would be very simple for either religion to pass as being the other for the sake of safety. Also, during the Holocaust, it could have been possible for certain Jewish people to act as if they were against their true religion for protection against the Nazis in order to keep their families safe. However, in these cases, one criteria to prove that one person was not the religion they claim they are is to simply analyze a person’s last name, which usually indicates a person’s religion.
Religious passing would be a very complicated because religion is such a broad form of discrimination. As I said earlier, two people of a different races can be part of one religion, so passing would be easier because there are not rigid boundaries for religion. However, in order to pass through religion, one has to have those rigid boundaries to help he or she pass as a different religion. As race has certain set “criteria” or standards that people can go through and break to pass as a certain race, religion is not an innate quality but a quality that can easily be changed. You may have a certain last name that ties you with a religion, but anyone is able to convert to other religions. Religion is your set of beliefs that can change over time; therefore, conversion is a form of helping a person transition from the beliefs of one religion to those of another religion. Hence, converting eliminates the possibility of passing in a religious sense.
So I ask you this question:
If religion takes over race as the basis of discrimination, can religious passing become an aspect of religion?