ut of interest I tried to check my students’ views on religion. “If given a chance to be any of the founders or figures of the major religions, who do you want to become?” This was the last question in the final exam I gave in the course Introduction to World Religions. I got inspiration from the World Economic Forum’s 2013 conference in Davos, Switzerland which among others, asked the question “is religion outdated in the 21st century?”
One student said that he would like to be Mohammed. As the prophet, he would review some of the teachings of Islam. This is important, according to him, amidst the increasing prejudices against Islam. He sees the value of the belief in Allah as a God who is just. But how to teach justice to believers without being violent and aggressive, in his view, is most essential.
Another student chose to become the Buddha. “This world needs to go back to the middle path” was her explanation. Amidst chaos, increasing issues in mental health, and confusion, humanity needs to be ever mindful. “If we only try to balance everything . . . stop for a while and check ourselves then we can be at peace with ourselves and others.”
Expectedly some students would prefer to be like Jesus. One answer however caught my attention. The student courageously said “[w]hether he was the Son of God or not does not really matter [to me].” What is most important, the student answered, is how [Jesus] “showed nothing but kindness and generosity to the people.”
We look up to great figures like Jesus, The