My view on the Islam-Terror debate – @Moverick

I have held off writing this post or commenting on this topic since forever. Religion is almost always a touchy subject, and I really do prefer the quiet, peaceful life. But then, I’ve not been known to be one who holds away from the tough issues.

This article is not about the subject of salvation. This is about living as civil people in a multi-cultural, multi-religious world.

It is fashionable (at least in some quarters) to claim that Islam is not a religion of peace. Quotes from the Quran about commandments to kill infidels are thrown around. Stories about the Jihad are thrown in for good measure. The conclusion is drawn that this is why we see a lot of terrorism from that quarter. As such, Muslims in general tend to be looked upon with suspicion. This view is particularly mouthed in Christian quarters. Here is my take on the issue.

One
Have you noticed how Christians (and I use the term loosely now) are not even agreed universally on the interpretation of the bible? We are not all agreed about the Trinity, the person of Jesus, water baptism, killing of witches, when and how to have sex, blood transfusion, speaking in tongues, first fruit offerings and even the almighty tithe. We are not even all agreed on how to be saved by faith!

We are unable to have a cohesive view on tons of issues in our own book that we read, study and preach from every day. I am not exactly sure that we are qualified to be authorities on the Quran and Islam. I see how Christians misinterpret the Bible to carry out what I really believe to be stupid acts. I see how the Bible is full of violence and killings in the name of God similar to what the Quran and Islam are poked for, yet without that violence and killing being tenets, teachings or practices of Christianity. And I wonder how much of the vitriol against Islam as a religion of death is valid.

Have you seen Christians debate a passage and one side insists that what Apostle Paul or some other prophet said here was him speaking as a man, and the other insists that he spoke as inspired of the Holy Spirit? Why would we think that such debates do not exist in Islam about certain things their prophets said or did?

Yet, Christians want to be authorities on a different religion when we are often as confused about our own. I wonder.

Two
If you have studied the Bible, you would know that it contains tons of commandments (to the Jews) to kill and sometimes wipe out entire cities of pagan nations. There is the commandment to suffer not a witch to live. And there are stories of gruesome killings. A bunch of kids were once mauled by a bear for taunting Prophet Elijah. Grotesque, gruesome stuff.

Oh; and there were the crusades and purges of hundreds of years ago in which the Roman Catholic church and even other Christian sects did horrible things.

Anyone can take those things I have highlighted above and make the Christianity out to be a religion of murder and genocide. And they would be wrong.

Three
Individual belief is everything.

Yes; there are certain elements in Islam who believe that the valid interpretation of the Quran is that infidels need to be killed. Does that mean that the billions of other Muslims who do not subscribe to that view are guilty and should be treated like threats to the rest of us? I think not.

Let me illustrate. There are Christians who believe that witches should be killed. Now, I do not subscribe to that. I vehemently oppose it. For the purpose of this discussion, even if those who believe it are right, nothing will make me kill anyone caught in witchcraft. Why? I do not subscribe to their belief. We may both be classified as “Christians” by the world, but I stand apart from them in that regard.

Yet, how would I feel were some people to say that Christianity is a religion of killers and ass-holes just because a section of the faith uphold such beliefs?

Wrap Up
It is for the above reasons that I cannot bring myself to label Islam as a religion of terror, regardless of what people say. There are many shades of Islam, and many of them are not throat-slicing people. Many Muslims cringe at the very thought of killing another human. It cannot be okay to do a generalisation of all Muslims and of their faith based on the extremities of a few or based on our often flawed interpretations of their book as evidenced in our often flawed interpretation of our own Book (or books).

I shall leave Muslims to interpret their religion as it pleases them. At the end of the day, the tag is nothing. It is what each individual believes that defines them. If a man believes in Allah, but does not believe that Allah requires him to kill me because I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, I am cool with him. If he believes I ought to die, however, then I have a problem with that fellow.

Mister Mo

Crazy, fun, a bundle of energy, chief Baby Boy of the friendzone, and tells amazing stories!

3 thoughts on “My view on the Islam-Terror debate – @Moverick

  1. At the end of the day, the tag is nothing. It is what each individual believes that defines them.

    And, that’s saying it as it is.

    It’s not the religion, it’s the specific bad people within that religion.

    But then, there are bad people almost anywhere… forget whatever religion they (claim to) practise

  2. I believe this long post by Rasheed Adrgoke is vitally relevant

    Progressive RELIGIONS, Retrogressive FOLLOWERS…

    ISLAM means peace BUT how come a lot of violent events are associated with followers of this great religion?
    CHRIST preached love BUT how come most perpetrators of hate crime (including racism and Islamophobia) are Christians?
    THOU SHALL NOT COVET is the 10th Commandment so how come leaders of the State of Israel find peace in coveting land that does not belong to them?
    Don’t get me wrong. The above statements do not imply that all or even most Muslims are violent neither was the statement about hate crime and covetousness meant to deride millions of good people that practice Christianity or Judaism. Let’s face it; the statements only represent the irony of the (religious) world we live in today.
    And before anyone jumps ahead of what I intend saying here, I am by no means under any impression that the world will be a better place without religion. Infact, you would be right if you label me religious. Yes, I am a Muslim. Nonetheless, I have found it necessary in the face of the irony my opening statements suggest to ask myself “What is the true purpose of religion?” The answer to this question is quite important as I believe a proper understanding of religion may help us resolve most of the conflict we find in the world today.
    So what is the purpose of religion? To start with, most religion teach their own version of the history of the world, the concept of God and the purpose of life, morality (concept of good and evil), how to live harmoniously with other people and nature, system of worship and a concept of life after death.
    One can broadly classify religious believes into three: monotheistic (believing in the concept of one God) or polytheistic (believing in the existence of many gods) and atheistic (believing in no God). It is also important to note that some other taxonomy classify religion by their adoption/acceptance across ethnic groups and therefore group religions into ethnic religions or religions mostly associated with an ethnic group (e.g. Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, etc) and universal religions which are widely accepted across several ethnic groups (Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism).
    Irrespective of the categorisation of religion, the central purpose of all religion is to give hope to mankind as we are faced with the certainty of a difficult/challenging existence on earth and harness the human capacity for doing good while forbidding evil acts that destroy harmony between humans on the one hand and also between human and nature on the other. Perhaps the fact that religion brings HOPE to most (who would otherwise be hopeless) is why religion has remained such a powerful concept. And like most powerful concepts, religion can be abused and used as a mere tool to achieve selfish (sometimes, cruel or oppressive) objectives. Perhaps, that is why Karl Marx refers to religion as the “opium of the masses”.
    A fair assessment of religion and its impact on human life may be very difficult to articulate in such a way as to get a consensus but it would suffice to say religion (and religious groups/organisations) has been responsible for a lot of good deeds and religion has also been exploited for perpetuating evil acts.
    On the positive side, religion can take some credit for civilising the homo sapiens as follows:
    Religion was at the forefront of establishing the “human order” and taking man out of the hobbesian state of nature where cannibalism was normal. In other words, religion is the root of the cultured man.
    Religion inherently promotes charity and the care for society’s weak (Tithing in Christianity, Zakat and Sadakat in Islam are all religious norms that support this)
    Religion helps break the artificial barriers of race, class, etc as people of different social and racial/ethnic backgrounds are united in the worship of a common God who has created all man/woman as equals
    Religion gives hope to the hopeless and provides a redemption path to otherwise condemned people thereby alleviating the despair of the affected persons
    Religious organisations (the Catholic church, Ansar-ud-deen, Loyola Jesuit, Avi Cenna, etc) were responsible for establishing and are still running a lot of schools, hospitals and other institutions that deliver “public good”
    Religion established proper foundation and structure for the family which is the bedrock of every society – any society with widespread dysfunction in the family unit ends up in disarray
    Modern religion such as Islam and Christianity even espouse broader guidelines for social justice and the political structure of society
    On a negative note, religion has been use as a tool for perpetrating evil including:
    Bringing disharmony amongst people due to the strong politicization of religion and the doctrine of claiming “exclusive right to paradise or the kingdom of God” especially by the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism)
    Many wars and conflagration have been centred around religion and religious misunderstanding (e.g. the Crusades, the Jihads, the Inquisitions) leading to avoidable loss of life & property
    Religion has also been used as a tool to perpetuate ignorance and indirectly control the mind of the ignorant masses. This point is very important because many clerics/imams are perceived or they position themselves as authorities that cannot be questioned and they sometimes abuse this position to propagate messages that are at variance with the true messages of their professed religion to a largely ignorant mass too lazy to study their religion
    Actually, the last point about “ignorant religious mass” is the key point of the write-up. This is because I strongly believe that most of the problems we find today in the form of distorted religious practices and negative impact of religion on society highlighted above can be solved directly and indirectly by curing the masses of its ignorance. For me the importance of knowledge in all we do should be obvious to all and especially the religious mass given the ample direct signalling by God in His holy books that KNOWLEDGE IS GOLDEN or how else do you explain the fact that God always ordain His messengers with knowledge before calling them to their mission:
    He did this with the first man and Prophet, Adam, ordaining him with knowledge of all things including good and evil before assigning the task of taking care of the garden
    He ordered Prophet Muhammad to “read in the name of your lord” and gave him knowledge to carry out his prophetic mission
    All Prophets have one way or the other encourage seeking knowledge (religious & otherwise) and actually position knowledge-seeking as a virtue. Prophet Muhammad is reputed to have said “Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim” (Ibn Maajah).
    So why are a lot of religious people still ignorant despite all these cues, directives, ordained messages? Why are we retrogressively moving into mass ignorance despite having attained a level of enlightenment that is unprecedented in the history of mankind?
    Let me suggest a few causal factors:
    1. There is mass ignorance because religious leadership has been greatly corrupted in the process of trying to gain political control of religion
    2. A system of “defensive evangelism” has led religious leaders to scare their followers away from seeking knowledge especially knowledge of other religions and faith thereby leading the widening gulf between followers of different faiths
    3. The growing reductionist approach to religion – as MERELY a platform for seeking God’s favour/miracles and socialisation – has led many followers to abandon the basic tenets, traditions and code of conduct of their religion in exchange for mostly invented conventions (what will be termed innovation/bidah in Islam)
    I am sure you can think up more causal factors of the retrogressive tendencies of followers of otherwise progressive religions. More importantly, I am sure we can all think up ways of reversing this trend particularly in Nigeria

  3. Brilliant piece, I always tell people (Christians) not to be too quick to judge. No one religion is perfect and no being for that matter. If we are being honest there is no such thing as a religion of peace (as far as i know) considering these books are littered with “God’s instruction” to carry out genocide

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