In many parts of the world, people still cling to the belief that religion is a matter of faith, not matter of biology.
But the evolution of that faith is now being driven by an entirely different set of people.
In India, for instance, religious beliefs are being used to justify discriminatory practices against Muslims, especially women, and other minority groups.
A growing number of religious communities, which are largely secular in nature, are being attacked for being un-Islamic.
And religious intolerance is now the biggest challenge facing Indian Muslims, says Aya Bhandari, a journalist and author.
The country is experiencing a surge in violence against religious minorities, Bhandar argues, in part because the majority of Muslims in the country have abandoned their traditional faith and embraced Islam.
Aya Bhatari has written a book called Religion of Genocide, about her own experiences of being a Muslim in India.
Her book takes a critical look at the religious, political and social impact of religion on the Indian society.
“The rise of Islamism has been a huge disaster for the Indian Muslim community,” she says.
“It has been really challenging for the Muslim community to adapt to this new political environment, and so the religious parties and their leaders have been trying to create a sense of unity.”
Religion has become an important political issue in India, with religious parties, politicians and religious leaders playing an increasingly important role in shaping India’s political and cultural landscape.
In the recent past, the government has been keen to push religious issues, such as conversion to Christianity, and have promoted a more tolerant image of Islam in India’s public discourse.
But Bhandaryi says that has only increased the perception that the Indian Muslims are not fully Indian and that the religious community is not fully Hindu.
The growing hostility to religion in India is part of a wider trend of religious intolerance that began in the 1960s and has been intensifying in recent years.
According to the latest census data, India has more than half a billion people, about 30 percent of whom are Muslims.
Muslims make up the second largest group of Hindus, with more than 3.5 billion followers.
A third of them are Christians.
The Hindu nationalist group Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has seen its popularity soar since coming to power in 2014, as the Hindu population in India has grown to an estimated 25 percent.
The BJP is the country’s largest political party, with seats in several states and is also seen as the dominant political force in India right now.
But as Bhandarya says, it’s been a very difficult process for Hindu minorities in India in recent times.
“In the early ’90s, there was a movement in India to have the constitution drafted in the language of the Hindu community, and to be a part of the national fabric, to be part of democracy, and all these things,” Bhandarie says.
“In the last decade, it has become a very dangerous time.
We are witnessing the rise of a new kind of Islamist ideology.”
She says that in the last five years, the political discourse in India on a range of religious issues has turned very hostile to religion, and the Hindu minority in India continues to suffer.
She says the trend has been particularly bad in the recent years, when religious minorities in the Indian diaspora, like Muslims, have seen their rights taken away.
Bhandarya, who is a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, believes that as the country has become more liberal, more open and more tolerant, religious minorities have felt the brunt of the changes.
“For the first time in the history of India, there is a significant number of Hindu minority groups who are facing violence from the state government and the media, from the police, from non-Hindus, from secular citizens, who are demanding that they be treated as equals,” she explains.
Bharatiya also points to the fact that religious minorities like Muslims are being marginalized in India today.
Babu Gogoi, an associate professor at Delhi University, says that the rise in religious intolerance and the growing discrimination against Muslims and Hindus has also created a vacuum in the public sphere for religious minorities.
“These are the times when the Indian state is supposed to be representing all the people.
But this is not happening,” he says.
Accordingly, Gogui says, the Indian public needs a more nuanced understanding of religious differences.
“People need to be able to talk about the Hindu religion, but they need to understand that the Muslims, Christians and Buddhists are not equal, and we need to recognise that,” he adds.
“This is the context of India today, and this is the climate of India at large, and it is going to continue to change.”