Category Archives: article on unaffiliated religion



By Kamlesh Tripathi


    Donald Trump was being willfully scandalous. When he recently said that the U.S. should shut its doors on all Muslims, as his verbal assault. To the equally outrageous gunning down of civilians in California by a couple, owning allegiance to ISIS. Was it a campaign stunt to pacify the public mood, or just a stray ambient outburst one can’t say. But any which way Trump shot himself in the foot with this off the cuff remark. A person of Trump’s stature who happens to be a billionaire and an aspirant for the Republican nomination surely overlooked the demographic sketch of his own country. Whether by sheer ignorance or design he alone knows but by doing so he labeled Muslims in general as the derogatory stereotype.

    On the other hand ‘Uncle Sam’ poses itself as the big daddy of the world. Showing deep concern for everyone in the planet. Simultaneously, it even keeps track of the maze of weaponry better than anyone else in the world. It also preaches terrorism to be a curse, yet remains one of the largest suppliers of arms in the world.  With these analogies one can safely say. Donald Trump exactly knew what he wanted to say. It it was not just an, off the cuff remark. So, it may not be out of context to contend. He orated what the Republicans had in mind?

    If we for a moment run through the world’s demography. We will find, out of a total world population of 7.26 billion people; 2.40 billion (33.06%) are Christians; 1.70 billion (23.41%) are Muslims; 1.13 billion (15.56%) belong to the unaffiliated religions (The religiously unaffiliated include atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion); 1.08 billion (14.87%) are Hindus; 0.49 billion (6.75%) are Buddhists; 0.40 billion (5.50%) practice the Folk Religion (The precise definition of folk religion varies among scholars. Sometimes also termed popular belief, it consists of ethnic or regional religious customs under the umbrella of a religion, but outside of official doctrine and practices); 0.06 billion (0.83%) belong to the other religions and 0.01 billion (0.01%) are Jews.

    Islam therefore, is the second largest faith on earth with around 1.7 billion adherents, and not just a docile race that Trump’s U.S can think of doing without. But currently it is quite definitely under duress, going through some trying times because of Islamic fundamentalism, that is at its worst. As it perpetrates holocausts in the form of terrorism. Because of which, average Muslims are losing their sheen and are not apparently welcomed in some of the most developed and powerful countries and continents of the world such as the U.S., Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand to name a few, for no fault of theirs. But by ranting about Muslims Donald Trump has not only added salt to their wounds but has also hoodwinked the American public in general. For, you can shut your doors on Muslims only when its flooding, but not when its merely seeping.

    If we analyze most religions vis-à-vis countries and colonies. We will find there are: 161 countries where Christianity is in a majority; 49 where Muslims are in a majority; 7 countries where unaffiliated religions rule the roost; 3 countries where Hindus are in a majority; 7 where Buddhists are in a majority; 3 countries where folk religion is in a majority and 1 where the Jews are in a majority.

    The data above only tells us that the World Muslim Population by percentage (Pew Research Center, 2014), constitutes the world’s second largest religious group. And if we dig in a little more on the Muslim population across the world we will find.

Concentration of Muslim population

    66% of the world’s Muslims reside in Asia and the Middle East. They are 27% of the total population of Asia and Middle East with around 1.12 billion adherents, and thus the heart of Muslim civilization on earth. And it is notable they share space with over a billion Hindus in the same region. Balance 34% of the Muslim population is spread across other continents and countries such as Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia & New Zealand, Melanesia, Caribbean, Micronesia, Mexico & Central America and Polynesia.

    Africa is home to 26% of the world’s Muslim population and 43% of Africa’s population is Muslim. So not surprisingly, Asia, Middle East and Africa together notch up 92% of the world’s Muslim population. And only a paltry 8% is left for the powerful and affluent countries and continents to share. Out of that let us glance at Europe and America.

    Europe has a total of 2.56 % of the world’s Muslim population and 5.85% of Europe’s population is Muslim. If we take Australia and New Zealand, 0.03% of the world’s Muslim population lives there which is 2.2% of their population. South America is home to just around 6.7 lac Muslims which is around 0.04% of the world Muslim population and 0.17% of their own population.

But coming back specifically to Donald Trump; North America is home to only around 35.08 lac Muslims which is only 0.2% of the world’s Muslim population and only 1.02% of their total population. Coming to the U.S. in particular, it is home to only 0.16% of world’s Muslim population, which is only 0.9% of their own population. So the point is, whether Trump says it or not. The Muslim population unlike Asia, Middle East and Africa has traditionally been extremely low in the U.S. and whether it was restricted by design or was never a favourite habitat of the Muslims in particular is a different question altogether.

   A Breibart News review of the State Department and Homeland Security data reveals. United States, admits more than a quarter of a million Muslim migrants each year. To this President Obama intends to add another 10,000 Syrian migrants. In 2013 alone 1,17,423 migrants from Muslim majority countries were permanently  resettled, within the United States. Additionally in 2013 the US voluntarily admitted an extra 1,22,921 temporary migrants from Muslim countries, as foreign students and foreign workers as well as 39,932 refugees from other Muslim countries.

    Even though every year the U.S. admits a number of Muslim migrants. Larger in size than the entire population of Des Moines, Oowa, Lincoln, Nebraska or Dayton or Ohio. Yet it still remains a miniscule and therefore it is not flooding but seeping, where closing of doors doesn’t help.

    The lethal point therefore is that US cannot do without the best of brains whether they come from Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Unaffiliated, Buddhist, Folk Religion, Jews or any other religion; And Trump’s US will have to realize, that you can’t continue to be the big daddy of the world by closing doors on faiths just because of a few rotten apples.





By Kamlesh Tripathi



    Time has come for epiphany of ‘unaffiliated religion.’ A sizable population of the world today lives without aligning with any religion as you will read in this narration. The question is how? And how do they manage in this simmering world of religious intolerance. We all know religion is good for the essence of life. But what about religious intolerance and where does unaffiliated religion fit in. Well, no one has ready answers to these question, but one can definitely see the changing paradigms.

    Today, intolerance in every religion has increased manifold. There are fringe groups that have formed in almost every religion that shows intolerance towards other religions. But within all of this. There are still some spunky people. Who believe in the charisma of ‘unaffiliated religion.’ The population of ‘unaffiliated religion’ is around 16 % of the world population. The religiously unaffiliated number is 1.1 billion. Accounting for about one-in-six (16%) people worldwide. It includes atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion. However, many of the religiously unaffiliated. Do hold some religious or spiritual beliefs.

    Apart from unaffiliated religion. There is also irreligion. Which is the absence of religion or indifference towards religion or rejection of religion or even hostility towards religion. When termed as the rejection of religious belief. It engulfs explicit atheism, religious dissidence and secular humanism. And when characterized as hostility towards religion. It includes anti-clericalism, anti-religion and anti-theism.

    According to Pew Research Center’s 2012 global study of 230 countries. 16% of the world’s population is not affiliated to any particular religion, while 84% are affiliated. The interesting fact finding in Pew Research Center’s 2012 global study is: Out of the global non-religious population, 76% reside in Asia and the Pacific, while the remainder reside in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), Sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).

    According to Pew Research Center projections. The population of the non-religious, though temporarily increasing, will ultimately decline significantly by 2050, because of lower reproductive rates and ageing.

    Being non-religious. Is not necessarily equivalent to being an atheist or agnostic. Pew Research Center’s global study from 2012 noted. That many of the non-religious actually have some religious beliefs. For example, they observed that “belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of Chinese unaffiliated adults, 30% of French unaffiliated adults and 68% of unaffiliated U.S. adults.”

    If we were to analyse it country and zone wise. The statistics (pertaining to unaffiliated religion) are even more interesting:

  • Out of a total unaffiliated religious population of around 1.1 billion. The ten most populous countries in respective order of population are China 700 million (52% of population), Japan 70 million (57%), USA 50 million (16%), Vietnam 26 million (30%), South Korea 22 million (46%), Germany 20 million (25%), France 18 million (28%), North Korea 17 million (71.3%), Brazil 15 million (7.9%), & U.K. 13 million (21%). This population totals up to 955 million which is 85% of the total population of unaffiliated religion.
  • If we were to take the first ten countries highest by respective order of percentage share of (Unaffiliated religion) population. They would be: Czech Republic 8 million (76%), North Korea 17 million (71%), Estonia (Baltic state) 0.8 million (60%), Japan 70 million (57%), Hongkong 0.4 million (56%), China 700 million (52%), South Korea 22 million (46%), Latvia (Baltic states) 1 million (44%), Netherlands 7 million (42%), Uruguay 1.4 million (41%). They comprise of 834 million which is 74% of their population.
  • There are six countries where the religiously unaffiliated make up a majority of their population: the Czech Republic (76%), North Korea (71%), Estonia (60%), Japan (57%), Hong Kong (56%) and China (52%).
  • The religiously unaffiliated are heavily concentrated in Asia and the Pacific. Where, more than three-quarters (76%) of the world’s unaffiliated population resides. The remainder is in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).
  • Although a majority of the religiously unaffiliated live in Asia and the Pacific. Only about one-in-five people (21%) in that region are unaffiliated. More than one-in-six people in Europe (18%) and North America (17%) are religiously unaffiliated. The unaffiliated make up smaller shares in the remaining regions. For instance, less than 1% of those who live in the Middle East-North Africa region are unaffiliated.
  • More than six-in-ten (62%) of all religiously unaffiliated people live in one country, China. The largest population of the religiously unaffiliated outside China are in Japan (6% of all unaffiliated), the United States (5%), Vietnam (2%) and Russia (2%).
  • The population of unaffiliated religion in India is only 0.87 million which is 0.07% of the entire population of the country.
  • There is a definite co-relation between the system of governance, ethos of live and religious fundamentalism and unaffiliated religion. For example take communist countries like China & North Korea where you will find the population of this community to be around 717 million which is about 64% of the entire population of unaffiliated religion. This is because of the regimentation of mindset that has forced people to stay non-aligned. If you take Islamic states, you will find the percentage of unaffiliated religion to be low because of religious fundamentalism.

    Median Age

    Globally, the religiously unaffiliated are older (median age of 34) than the overall global population (median age of 28). Among the five regions for which data are available, sub- Saharan Africa has the youngest population of religiously unaffiliated people (median age of 20), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (26), North America (31) and Asia and the Pacific (35). Europe has the oldest unaffiliated population, with a median age of 37.







    Yes they do if you hear them intently. I could feel it during my visit to Bara Imambara (BI), Bhool-Bhulaiyaa (BB) and the tall Rumi Darwaza (RD) while doing a book on Lucknow. A tourist guide took me around these signature monuments, and believe me, it was sheer delight. He coaxed me to listen to what the monuments hummed and conveyed while standing tall and tanned under the strong summer sun. Indeed, it is a mirror and reflection of the civilization of those times, when the monument was constructed.

    BI, BB and RD were all constructed by, the then Ruler and Nawab of Lucknow, Asaf-ud-Daulah (AUD) in 1784 about whom, it is said: ‘Jis ko na de Maulah usko de Asaf-ud-Daulah.’ (AUD grants benevolence, even to those, whom Almighty denies—a catchphrase in the honour of the local ruler). AUD imbibed the ethos and spirit of Awadh, only to convert it into grand edifices, further catapulting it, into iconic monuments around which these civilizations flourished.

    He decided to build the BI for Azadari (mourning). To provide relief to his poor subjects who were reeling under severe famine in 1783-84. The construction provided employment to nearly twenty two thousand people at a time. But his concern did not rest there. To encourage men folk of respectable families who felt embarrassed working during the day, fearing they will be recognized as labourers during daylight. The Nawab directed that the construction work be continued even after sunset, and throughout the night, when men would work in darkness without being recognized. Many people who worked in the night were unskilled. Work done by them was therefore sub-standard, which was demolished during the day and re-built by skilled workers next day. Though, this arrangement caused a lot of wastage, AUD put forth some remarkable points relevant to mankind by weaving a fabric of social security system for the society.

    Even today, BI conveys the tale of pain, human suffering and so, is dear to all, as forefathers of many may have participated in this project cutting across religion and strata of the society. AUD had shifted his capital from Faizabad-Ayodhya (twin cities) to Lucknow therefore Ram-Raj was not unknown to him.

    The main hall of the Imambara is 50 x16 meters. And is 15 meters tall without any central pillars or columns supporting it. This is said to be the world’s largest ‘arched room’ without pillars. As if conveying. It is possible for a society to exist and survive with each other’s support alone. As Hindu-Muslims do in Lucknow like the arched room.

    Within the Imambara AUD had also carved the labyrinth … the ‘BB’ which is, three storeyed. It has 489 similar looking galleries without doors, where one can roam endlessly for hours. But by roaming endlessly you don’t reach your destination. To reach your destination you require proper direction, is the lesson it conveys.

    The narrow lanes of BB were carved to confuse enemy intruders during invasions. Only the King and a few of his trusted men knew the way out. Just as your Guru or the Almighty knows the way out for you, in troubled times. And keeping the enemy confused is a robust strategy even today.

    These constricted lanes can make anyone feel lost, as you sometimes, feel in life. Their passages, some of which have cul-de-sacs, exhort us to keep moving in life, even during hardships, and not fear the dead ends. For hardships will only dissolve in front of your endurance.

    Flights of steps go up-and-down like a sinusoidal curve. It is steep, dark and narrow. Where, even the sound of a lighted match stick, amplifies and seems to travel through the length of the corridor. The lit-up effect of which illuminates, right up to the other end of the corridor. Signifying, don’t worry. For, there is always light at the other end of the tunnel.

    There are a series of closed narrow passages. In the form of an intricate network, that connects them to a set of staircases. That suddenly change direction, going up or down just to confuse a person. Only, one correct combination of the passage and staircase when negotiated correctly, leads you to the roof top. In a manner hinting, that perfection requires precision. Like a combination lock. Where, only one correct combination of passage and stairs together, can take you to the top.

    It reminds, even real life is like a combination lock. Where all combinations need to mesh for fruition. You cannot reach the top of BB without the help of a guide, who is trained to perfection to take you up. Just like the journey of life, where the Almighty holds your hand and takes you through and through. Next,

   The grand Rumi Darwaza (RD) standing 60 feet-tall, was also a part of relief operations during the famine. It is devoid of wood and iron and an outright novelty, of its times. When viewed from the West, it looks like a huge Mehraab—a grand gateway. East is even prettier … resembling a Mexican hat. Its three gates in a row absorb the fast, medium and the slow moving traffic, symbolic of the trait of absorption in human life. Born tall, it lives tall and looks prettier from wide angles. The tough, rough and the dainty mix of personality that human beings need to imbibe.

   AUD’s character possessed the sponge to absorb the ethos of the masses, and convert it into these everlasting golden scripts of brick and mortar. Try it out, yourself. As and when you go close to these monuments. They shear off your existing nub of thoughts and fill you with some gentle self-introspection. Which only helps you in re-determining your values. They say values of a man rarely changes. Not even during his lifetime.

    In the flux and flow of life. If someone, were to ask me to describe the Awadh of 1784. I would simply tell him to go and see a movie produced in that era. Or read a book published around that time. But sad, movies were not invented then and books were not too prevalent. So, my request to him would only be, to go and visit BI, BB and even RD.

    I now, never miss an opportunity to visit old monuments, and spend some quality time there. As each monument has something beatific to tell you.


By Kamlesh Tripathi



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