By Bologi Jimada
If we are to have an intellectual, unemotional and unbiased discuss on the issue of Islam and violence, we have to first examine the dialectics of the whole conflict. First, there is religious conflict, there is clash of civilizations and there is failure of leadership. Islam is no more or less violent as Christianity and i say this because of the trail of blood following both religions through history. Without going back to the time of the Crusades or even Hitler and Christian Europe, the entire Hutu/Tutsi massacre was hatched and carried out by Christians against fellow Christians.
In the Balkans, it was Christians who massacred Muslims in thousands. All this happened within the last two decades. We can try to draw parallels and conclusions accordingly. Now, to even begin to make sense out of most of the nonsense going on, one must separate the Arab Muslim from the Muslims from Persia and South East Asia. We must also separate Muslims from different parts of Nigeria as a result. There are also different sects of Islam, just as you have for Christianity, and for each, there are different thresholds of tolerance dictated by exposure, political and cultural experience and association.
Should one be surprised that most of the areas where Islamic fanaticism exist are mostly poor, undeveloped and with little education? What condition has condemned them to perpetual poverty, you ask? To them, it is a conspiracy by the west. As a further extension, the Palestinian question has always been a festering wound in most of the Arab world and Islamic nations, and the west is seen as the chief architect. Violence only begets violence! The Islamic world mostly believes the United States is unfairly using its military might to eliminate perceived enemies not only for economic reasons, but also to further the cause of Christianity. The extreme, fanatic and deadly side of Christianity is represented By the Christian religious Right coalition in America. Particular members of the group believe that before apocalypse can take place, there must be the expansion of the kingdom of God on earth through the Greater Israeli project which essentially is asking for the destruction of most of the Arab world to expand the territory of Israel.
These are some of the people who helped George W to power. Much as the world has debated the reasons for the attack on Iraq after 9/11, certainly, there was cause for the Islamic world to be alarmed because of the location of Iraq in religious chronicles. Should two nations be destroyed because of 9/11, especially when it was alleged that the perpetrators were from a third friendly Arab country, a certain Saudi Arabia where the alleged devil in chief hailed from? Asides from more deaths, has the war on terror achieved much? But we easily fail to see that the regular killing of innocent people through drone attacks on perceived terrorists is no less different from, say the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria. When you say anything against the Jews, you are branded as anti-Semitic and run out of town; your business and life destroyed if you live in America- that of course does not classify as curtailing freedom of speech or expression.
But here we are saying it is ok under freedom of speech for someone to caricature the prophet of a major religion when it is clear it is going to incite people to violence. And we are also saying that those demonstrating are stupid and don’t know what they are doing. In what way are they different from those who picket perceived anti-Semitics and those who take out newspaper pages at thousands of dollars to say all sorts of unprintable things against such people? Indeed a lot of issue is made about those who deny the holocaust. Such people are called dangerous and hostile to Israel when all they have said was that they did not accept, rightly or wrongly, an historical account. Which is more dangerous, the caricaturing of a major religion or the disagreement with an historical account?
There is enough ignorance across both Christianity and Islam to give the entire world a cause for concern. If God says he can fight his own battles, why are we killing each other to establish the supremacy of one over the other? In Nigeria, why do we claim we are religious when we conspire, partake or condone corruption? We believe in God as Muslim or Christian, yet we are equally held captive by our traditional beliefs! We say we are religious yet we go on accumulating wealth as if we will not die. The main creed of both religions is just being “thy brother’s keeper”; yet all we do is act in ways which are injurious to the next person! We mistake conspicuous consumption as a sign of good fortune and we even go to great lengths to celebrate God as the architect when the scriptures admonish us against such lifestyle. Surely these can’t be the faith we all are splitting hairs about!
Northern Nigeria has been held captive for decades by feudal overlords who ironically, have used Islam to subjugate the masses. When Allah says he ‘abhors rebellion” and insurrection against our leaders since it is only He who gives and takes power, the masses forget that Allah also said that “from amongst you, choose the one who fears Me most to lead you”; so corrupt leadership cannot be Allah’s choice! And by implication, the people should not be following such leadership. The failure of leadership is therefore followed by failure of followership in almost equal measure. Sadly, the northern feudal lords failed to see that lack of education breeds even greater poverty in multiple folds and a huge population of future discontent. If you are stripped of most of human dignity, how low can you go again? Why then won’t such people take pittance to go blow themselves up believing in their warped concept of faith that they are going to go to heaven when God clearly warned against such? For these people, the only thing left which can give them a lift or meaning, is a drug which Karl Marx said is the Opium of the People – religion. Now we are at cross roads. Those educated, modern and in authority are too busy oppressing the poor and accumulating and have consequently become unreligious while those who are oppressed and deprived have been consumed by hate and revenge and have also become unreligious!
Picture credit: Reuters.com