Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Frequency of Violence by Muslims

Post 10

I am a busy man and hence sometimes make silly mistakes. One of these is that the content of Post 9 should have come at least two posts after this one. Well, consider it a humorous break from the subject of violence. You deserve such a break.

Please refresh your memory re. the closing of post 8. There is this “but….” that needs to be cleared.

Let me be clear once again, that I am writing about violence and terrorism committed by individuals or groups, not by governments or nations. That would be a different story.

Before you read any further, note also that the title of this post is not “The Frequency of Muslim Violence,” but “The Frequency of Violence by Muslims.” I hope you catch the difference. I am not talking here of Muslim or Islamic violence, but of violence committed by individuals or groups who are Muslims. Herewith I am suggesting that this violence does not emerge from core Islam. As per our jurist Verkouteren in Post 3, I have no way of proving that this violence emerges from the bowels of Islam. In the case of violence committed by Christians, I know theirs does not come from core Christianity. On what logical basis would I determine otherwise for Muslims?

Nevertheless, my Muslim friends, that “but….” keeps tugging away at me. I wrote at the end of the last post that violence or threats of violence by Muslims are common these days. If we cannot blame it on their religion, then, what of their culture? Violent Muslims come from many different cultures, including Western cultures where they are in a minority. Unless we could agree that every culture is violent by nature, I would not go there either.

Well, then, what of social class? Can it be said that one social class is more violent than another? I don’t think I want to go there either. For some time, it was argued that terrorists and other violent folk must come from the underprivileged strata of society, but it soon became clear that terrorists are often well heeled and well educated. Another brick wall.

I want to turn elsewhere. First of all, there is the historical fact that the West has over the past centuries treated the Muslim world with disdain and a strong sense of superiority, all the time trying to control and exploit them for their own Western purposes. It is called “colonialism” and “imperialism.” During that period, serious attempts were made to pry Muslims loose from their religion, mostly by the inculcation of secularism through education and the legal system. It almost worked. Muslims did not turn from their religion, but the more they were subjected to secular education, the more secular they became in their thinking about the world of business, science, politics and government, while they often continued to practice the five pillars. The Muslim world went into a spiritual coma, a process that went largely unnoticed by the victim communities.

Then, suddenly Ayatollah Khomeini burst on to the scene with his angry and strident demands for a rejection of secularism and a revival of classical wholistic Islam. The Shah of Iran and all that represented the secular West had to be wiped off the face of the earth, especially from Muslim territories. Khomeini fired the imagination of the dormant Muslim community, stirred up the entire Muslim world and turned them into an indignant umma. I experienced it all in northern Nigeria and have described it in some detail in my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, especially in Volume 2. (You can find it by typing in the appropriate box in
< >.) Khomeini may have triggered a dynamic that went further than he could foresee or that I approve of, but as I observed it from my Nigerian perch, I could only applaud in principle this awakening of Nigerian Muslims from their stupor and breaking the secular chains that had bound them.

They became angrier than hell, millions of Muslims did. They realized they had been had. They had been tricked and sidelined. A virus had been inserted in the soul of the umma that now needed to be excised. They had swallowed the poison pill of secularism. They went back to their main source, the Qur’an, for renewed inspiration and a new beginning--and in their anger now took it in a very raw and literal sense, for that gave them an excuse to take revenge. Kill the bastards! A, yes, so many verses supported that kind of aggressive action. With joy, glee and enthusiasm they stirred up each other to this new liberating mission. With Allah on their side, history would be on their side as well. They were sure of victory.

And so they proceeded, millions of them. And who can deny that currently most non-governmental violence and terrorism comes from the Muslim side?

In many places it turned pretty ugly for Christians. Where Muslim majorities had at least tolerated Christians, they now became hostile and associated their local Christian neighbours with the hated West. One reads of so many situations where former friendly relations turned sour. Christians are accused of all kinds of crimes without proof in many countries, especially the “crimes” of apostasy and blasphemy. Stories are simply cooked up and the victims taken to court. Even when declared innocent, they feel so threatened by their accusers, they often escape to neighbouring countries. Some of them end up as refugees in the West. My archives are full of such stories. Simply beyond belief and reason. And even if these situations are not officially approved by governments or their agents, they often simply stand by and let it happen. Sometimes they connive with the perpetrators. Churches and Christian properties burnt. Families broken up. Careers cut short. Jobs lost., In Middle Eastern countries where some of the oldest Christian communities have lived in relative peace for centuries, their numbers are fast depleting by Christians escaping to neighbouring countries. They simply cannot take it anymore.

The West has done its thing. Whether Western colonialism was as bad as the Islamizing process of the Middle East and North Africa centuries earlier may be worth a debate. The Muslims are still there and now standing up for themselves. The same cannot be said of the earlier Christians supplanted by Muslims. They have largely vanished, while those remaining live under severe stress.

The time has come to put and end to this spiral of violence. Muslims know that Allah is the Compassionate and Merciful one. He forgives. Does Islam not promote forgiveness and reconciliation? Similarly, the Bible calls upon Christians to forgive. It is here that leaders of both religions must make their influence felt. People like Howitt and Cooper from the previous post are right in calling upon Muslim leaders to apologize. The non-governmental perpetrators of violence of today are mostly Muslims, even if they are not guided by a right understanding of the Qur’an. Their leaders must take a much stronger public stand against violence than they have. Arar seems to be either blind to the violence Muslims commit or he is trying to deny it. Given its widespread nature, that is rather foolish and makes him appear dishonest in my eyes. Arar and other Muslims should realize that the hesitation of the Muslim community at large to openly recognize and acknowledge the widespread violence among them constitutes a serious barrier to the Islamic da’wa or mission in God’s world.

One of these days I will give you a peek at the Nigerian situation where you have two equal majorities of 65 million plus of each of the two religions. That’s a dynamic that calls for a totally unique strategy for reconciliation and moving forward together from the rampant religious violence in that country. For those who are curious, check out the e-book version of my studies as I showed you above.

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