By Babatunde Jose
A lot has happened recently on the ‘terrorism’ front that brings to frontage the issue of Islam and terrorism, more especially with some erstwhile Moslems and ‘friends’ of Islam beginning to ask the question: Why Islam? Misperception and confusion are starting to set in and many have begun to ruminate over the possibilities of a real connection between the tenets of the religion and terrorism. From the onset, let us disabuse our minds of any connection, encouragement, aiding or abetting of terror by mainstream Islam. There is no point repeating the often assertion that Islam as a religion does not stand for war or terror but for peace. Be that as it may, there is no doubt, the perpetrators of terror have found a convenient cover in the religion to carry out their nefarious activities.
It must also be said that the media is today enamored with incidents of terrorism as it gives them good copy and the now proverbial’ Breaking News’ syndrome. The result of these odious press the activities of fringe terrorists is causing the faith is that many now perceive that: “Violence is inherent in Islam. It’s a destructive, nihilistic cult of death. It legitimates murder.” However, the idea that more than a billion people around the world might be attached to a faith either despite the fact that it is a “nihilistic cult of death” or because of that fact is not the remark of a heretic; as anyone who has actually met a significant number of believing Muslims must realize, it is the remark of a lunatic – or a very canny self-publicist. It is also, for those keen to condemn Islam and Muslims, as soothing a reductionist fable as Orwell’s “four legs good, two legs bad”. Above all, it fails any number of empirical tests. We can say with certainty that the violence and conflict racking much of the Muslim world does not happen because its inhabitants are Muslims.
How? Because in recent decades alone we have seen every one of these types of violence replicated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Cambodia, in conflicts where next to no Muslims were involved. Contrary to the oft-stated view that religion causes much of the world’s violence, the past century has shown the immense potential for violence of the centralizing nation-state. Some people will be quick to say that none of the aforementioned countries has generated global terrorism; which is correct. The fact is that they do not make sensational headlines as religion would.
A better explanation is that none of these post-colonial nations was deemed of crucial strategic importance to the West, and so none found itself garrisoned by Western troops; whereas the countries where large numbers of Muslims live happen to lie across the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz and a vast reservoir of fossil fuels, as well as the birthplace of the West’s major religion. All those things made the West a participant in the Muslim world’s conflicts and then – eventually, after many decades – a target for them. But that is geopolitics, and cannot explain the recent emergence of home based terrorists in England, France, Germany, Belgium and the United States. However, we might ponder, why the same type of terrorism is absent in South America, even Mexico.
The reason is not farfetched. These nations have never had exploitative relationships with the so-called axis of Islamic militarism. That is, simply the Oil kingdoms of the East.
If anything, Europe is suffering from the collateral damage of years of its injustice to the people of the ‘Fertile Crescent’.
The situation is however, not being helped by the intemperate language of ‘Islam haters in the West. A commentator on CBS 60 Minutes did not stop at the violent acts of militant Muslims: No, he declared on the program that ‘Muhammad is a “terrorist” who set an example opposite to that of Jesus and Moses’. The most detestable of them all is the book by J.K Sheindlin: THE PEOPLE VS MUHAMMAD, dubbed; ‘The trial which challenges the founder of Islam’s authority over all mankind’. A PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS. In this book (worse than Salman Rushdie’s Satanic verses), the author called the Prophet all sorts of unprintable epithets, most unbecoming of a sane human being. It is these conclusions that we have a problem with. We have written about this before, namely, that the sins of Muslims should not be confused with the tenets or doctrines of Islam. We absolutely agree that some Muslims use Quranic verses (out of context) to justify their murder of innocent people. But the Bible has also been used to justify murder (http://www.evilbible.com/evil-bible-home-page/murder-in-the-bible/), the enslavement of Africans, or racial discrimination in the United States. Scores of Orthodox Christian Serb soldiers systematically raped tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslim women in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The members of the Klu Klux Klan are devout Christians. Can one justifiably conclude that Christianity is a racist and “evil” religion? Of course not. Islam is not accorded this same treatment, and it is wrong. One would have thought that this fallacious thinking would have been eradicated by now.
On the one hand some Christian fundamentalist say how barbaric Islam is when it decrees cutting of the hand of the thief; however, when we read the Old Testament, much of the punishment prescribed therein is the same in the Qur’an. Even the evangelicals’ relentless assault on the dress of the Muslim women and that the men force their women to dress in this fashion is contentious. Ask the about the dress of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the pious women during the time of Jesus: In the new testament the verses read, ‘it is a shame for a woman to pray with her head uncovered (1 Cor. 11:2-16); also in the book of Ephesians, there are verses that read, wives obey your husbands and be silent in the church, if you have a question wait until you get home and ask your husband. Women are to learn in silence and subjection (Ephesians 5:21-32). The Evangelical are silent on these and countless other verses that support racism against people of color; the verse reads ‘Slaves obey your masters in the flesh’ (Colossians 3:22) and everyone knows the story of Cain and Abel. Allah says in the holy book:
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do (Quran 5:8)
It is very easy to forget that the evangelicals and the neo-cons use the Bible to justify Israeli occupation of Palestine. They fund and support illegal settlement activity. They are also against peace and all “road maps”. They support directly or indirectly the violence and terrorism against Palestinians fighting for their just cause against occupation. They also supported the illegal war against Iraq for the “security” of Israel.
There seems to be no justice for the oppressed of the world. If the oppressed peoples are given their due rights they would not resort to violence especially not to suicide bombings. Who is there to defend the rights of these oppressed peoples – Palestinians, Iraqis, Chechnyans, Kashmiris, Afghanis, etc.? The US, Israel, India, Russia, etc. have all the WMDs and other powerful weapons which they use frequently – these nations have terrorized and killed so many and continue to do so in the name of self-defence or in the defence of their economic interest – even at the cost of so many innocent lives? These oppressed people have resorted to violence in despair because we have failed them. Yes, we have all failed them. Some for their helplessness, others for their indifference, still others for their selfish interests. It is an insult upon injury when their legitimate struggle is termed terrorism.
Another issue is that of the perceived monopoly Islam has on terrorism. If a Muslim carries out a terrorist attack he/she is doing it for their religious beliefs and are just being devout. However, when a non-Muslim carries out a terrorist attack he/she is seen as a crazy lone wolf who is obviously demented; their political/religious affiliation does not have anything to do with their actions and the action itself is not considered terrorism. This narrative makes it seem that terrorism and Islam are something that go hand-in-hand, that Muslims invented this idea of terrorism; this narrative destroy cultures and causes rifts in society that can only lead to more violence. We need to educate people in the fact that terrorism is not monopolized by Islam; and that terrorists, regardless of religion or political ideology are all demented fools who use their religion or ideology as a mechanism to justify their sick and twisted acts. We need to educate the people that being a Muslim, Christian, Jew, Atheist, a member of the political left or political right does not equate you to being a terrorist, but rather that those who are terrorist are trying to equate themselves with members of these faiths or ideologies and are causing catastrophic damage when they hijack these faiths and ideologies for their own sick and twisted actions. Groups such as Al-Qaeda, the IRA, The Japanese Red Army, ISIS, Boko Haram and many other groups do not represent the whole of the community they claim to represent, instead they are the exact opposite of what they claim to represent. Unless we start realizing this we will end up tearing innocent communities apart in an attempt to “weed” out the terrorist.
Does the Quran or Muhammad promote violence? Some issues in peace and violence are what we will look at in our next discourse.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend.