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hmm...questions about religion. hmmm.
my simple feelings regarding religion are that the world is a very old and complicated place, with the complexities and intricacies of the world being inherently outside of the realm of human understanding.
so i'm of the humble opinion that anyone who practices religion with compassion and humility is probably on the right track. and anyone who practices religion with anger and arrogance is probably making a mistake.
i love christ and the teachings of christ, but i'm not ever going to argue with anyone about which religion or system of beliefs is the 'right' one, cos, honestly, i have no clue. on a weird and personal level i love the teachings of and character of christ. but i don't even really think of myself as a christian, for the moment that someone labels themselves a 'christian' or a 'muslim' or a 'zoroastrian' etc, then that person is implying that they're right and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong. and i certainly don't ever think that i'm right and anyone else is wrong. and regarding islam, i don't know enough about it to have too strong of an opinion.
the more militant and violent aspects of islam would seem to have more to do with the human tendencies towards militancy and violence than with islam. it's a sad fact that people use religion (all religions) in many perverted ways, to justify many perverse acts.

so i stand by what i said earlier, if in practicing religion someone is humble and compassionate and non-judgemental, then, from my humble perspective, great.

but if in practicing religion someone is arrogant, cruel and judgemental, then, from my humble perspective, a problem exists.

the cultural roots of all religions are particularly fascinating, especially regarding the way that religious thought and orthodoxy evolve hand in hand with the prevalent cultural factors in which the religion is born. and it's odd when certain cultural trappings attach themselves to the practice of a religion, even when the circumstances that gave rise to those cultural trappings passed away a long time ago.
muslims and jews not eating pork and keeping kosher, for example. that made a lot of sense before refrigeration, but it does seem kind of arbitrary now (not from an ethical perspective, mind you, as i'm a vegan i oppose the eating of all animals and animal products, but that's another (non-judgemental) issue altogether).

ok, this is probably convoluded and rambling, so in summation:
be humble and compassionate and don't hurt people. there's enough suffering in the world, we certainly don't need extra suffering and acts of arrogance and cruelty committed in the name of god(s).

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