There are many people who are sincere in their view of the positive role of religion. However, in my view, religion is also a more complex and multi-faceted phenomenon. Along-with its positive sides are many other aspects that are nefarious that have been instrumental in downgrading human beings. These negative sides become apparent with the institutionalising of religion that has been the norm in human history. This way, the religion becomes a power factor in society and those holding power use it to further their ends that basically have little to do with the positive aspects of religion.
In the hands of the ruling strata of society religions have been a big asset. With the help of clergy the rulers have imposed their will on the people as they chose. This has been the general norm in most of the civilisations of the world. If we see the role of religion in the present-day Muslim world then we are face to face with the stark reality of the misuse of a major religion, Islam. The destructive forces which claim to represent 'pure' Islam have been playing havoc with the people in the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Here religion instead of playing an enlightening and sober part has been turned into a destructive tool of ignorance, violence and anti-civilisation. As a result, ordinary people suffer. Unluckily, the vicious circle of indoctrinated ignorance and violence will continue.