With the previous post in place, it just doesn’t cease to amaze me that in the times that we live there are religious fanatics making the most outlandish statements and deadly actions. We have all seen the uproar of various radical elements of Islam over such mundane things as teddy bears and political cartoons. We have seen what we would call barbaric practices over criminal actions (chopping the hand off for theft), and the treatment of women (whipping the victim of a rape). Then there are the horrific attacks upon people not only not of their faith, but of the same religion. In many respects, these actions and reactions are a shadow of our own bloody past.
Punishments just as barbaric by today’s standards can be found in the Old Testament. However, over the years, Western civilization has endeavored to be more compassionate and forgiving, especially since Jesus Christ taught tolerance and forgiveness as being God’s will. But that has not necessarily been the Christian way…
I cannot defend the Christian faith as being pacifistic throughout its history. Many wars have been fought in God’s name and have used God as the justification for battle. If we look in the Old Testament of the Bible, there were wars fought on God’s behalf and direction. Just recently, the violence in Norther Ireland was, in part, due to religious differences between Catholics and Protestants. In light of such a bloody past, is Islam any different?
We, as Christians, tolerate other religions, especially in the United States. Our Bill of Rights states that a freedom to worship (or not) is up to the individual, not the government, and no religion or belief is to be held above all others. But that doesn’t mean that we like it, but we typically do not wage war against another faith, at least in these modern times. Tolerance and forgiveness is typically our creed.
Then perhaps I’m ignorant, but isn’t the violence advocated by the Islamic radicals over the acceptance of their religion over all others? If that is the case, then that is why they do not like free societies with their acceptance of multiple religions and beliefs. Indeed, the preferred government they advocate is a theocracy, a religious government.
But even then, what version of their belief would they have as their governing body? Sunni or Shiite? What are the differences between the two? You and I probably wouldn’t understand the differences that these two sects have, but it’s enough for them to war over each other for over 1100 years.
The groups first diverged after the Prophet Muhammad died in 632, and his followers could not agree on whether to choose bloodline successors or leaders most likely to follow the tenets of the faith.
The group now known as Sunnis chose Abu Bakr, the prophet’s adviser, to become the first successor, or caliph, to lead the Muslim state. Shiites favored Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law. Ali and his successors are called imams, who not only lead the Shiites but are considered to be descendants of Muhammad. After the 11th imam died in 874, and his young son was said to have disappeared from the funeral, Shiites in particular came to see the child as a Messiah who had been hidden from the public by God.
The largest sect of Shiites, known as “twelvers,” have been preparing for his return ever since.
How did the violence start?
In 656, Ali’s supporters killed the third caliph. Soon after, the Sunnis killed Ali’s son Husain.
Fighting continued but Sunnis emerged victorious over the Shiites and came to revere the caliphate for its strength and piety.
Shiites focused on developing their religious beliefs, through their imams.
The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs–Mohammed’s successors–rightfully took his place as the leaders of Muslims. They recognize the heirs of the four caliphs as legitimate religious leaders. These heirs ruled continuously in the Arab world until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following the end of the First World War.
Shiites, in contrast, believe that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed.
So now the violence between the sects is over who is the legitimate head of Islam. Sort of reminds you about the early days of the Catholic Church, doesn’t it?
But regardless of who is supposed to be the legitimate head of Islam, this religion must come out of the dark ages and join the modern world. It must realize that preaching hate against non-Muslim countries and people is not the way to convert people to their religion nor to join the world community. But then, this hasn’t been their practice nor their aim. From a prior post:
Islam is a religion of conquest – it was spread by subjugation. The soldiers would ride into a village and wipe out any resistance. Afterward, they would gather up all the villagers, and separated the leaders. The Imam riding with the soldiers would then ask them one by one if they would accept Islam as their religion and Allah as their god. If not, the leader would be forced to kneel, and he was beheaded in front of the assembled villagers. This process usually didn’t last very long as the village saw which way this was going, so they would take vows to accept this new religion. Afterward, they would ride to the next village and repeat the “conversion” of the infidels.
The tribal mentality of the radical Islamists will only turn the world further against the religion as a whole. Many people are looking at Moslems as a whole to be dangerous fanatics even though they do not ascribe to the radical’s agenda.
What is the radical agenda? To subjugate the world under one religion: Islam. And they will do it in any way possible. And therein lies the danger.
This is where the ends justify the means. Bombings (suicide & other), attacks on civilians and soldiers alike, and hate-filled speech all drive this point home although it may be against the ultimate will of Allah. But that does not matter as long as the coming of the Islamic Messiah is hastened. A bloody legacy indeed.
I have posted other essays and opinions on this subject which state what the civilized world should do before the barbarians are at the gate and pounding it down. What say you?