Friday, 23 March 2012

Religion of Terror

Please note this is not a post against muslims or Islam but rather trying to find answers to many unanswered questions on terrorism!

I will never forget the fear and irrational thinking that happened to me shortly after the july 7/7 bombings in London and, prior to this, the IRA bombing in South Quay, Canary Wharf. 

I clearly remember having this overwhelming feeling that the muslim faith was no longer just another religion with different views to my own belief system, but that muslims were out to kill us for not being like them. I spent the next few months after this incident hating the layout of my beloved underground train system, sitting next to the emergency exits on every bus and made it my sole duty to keep my eye on any type of bag/luggage/equipment that looked as if it could be detonated by a mobile device. It's better to be safe than sorry was my thought. I made concerted efforts to get off the train if someone who looked like a muslim wearing particular attire, beard and kufi, not to mention carrying a back-pack got on anywhere near me. I further took it upon myself to verbally challenge people on our London transport system to make sure that any unattended bag belonged to them. It was tiresome and left a bitter taste in my mouth. 

I was certain that every muslim who saw me viewed me as an infidel and would have no hesitation in blowing my little butt up, shouting 'allahu akbar' all the way. I don't fear death but I do fear being mentally, physically and emotionally scarred.

Although I no longer think this way, the recent events involving Mohammed Merah, a French national, alleged to be a terrorist, has made me wonder once again. How can someone have no thought in deliberately killing innocent people for their own personal cause? How does someone strap a bomb to themselves with the sole intention of killing as many people as they can? How can they believe it is their God-given right to completely obliterate other human beings, just because they don't hold the same beliefs or values as themselves?

This brings me to a few real interesting points:

1. How far would you go in any given situation, in order to make a point? 
2. If you're religious or have a cultural custom and was asked to do something that you didn't agree with, would you continue to believe in that system or would you blindly continue to obey?

I welcome your comments but please don't use this space to stigmatise muslims.


  1. This is a very difficult subject, Rum.

    The most critical issue you have posted since I read you!

    Now, to the marbles:

    I seem to remember from my old classes of History a somewhat similar behavior coming from Religions trying to assert their tenets. After some time things seems to adjust and very, very slowly things get to be slacker.

    The most clear memories I have had to do with Jews and Christians, but surely if we follow any other with enough power in any moment of history there would be similar patterns.

    I can remember that there were times when if you didn't follow the Jewish law, it was very probably that you'd end stoned to death for blasphemy.

    Afterward, Christianity, not only developed The Crusades, but several other groups, The Knights Templar come to memory, who thought it was their duty to "defend" God, and finally the Inquisition put a very hard final period to these unfortunate actions.

    Islam as the third step in the story of noble and saint Prophets, it seems to follow this pattern, the difference is, in all cases, of course, the historical moment of each of them.

    There will always be fanatics, bigots, and the like. Unfortunately, human being are scarcely walking the first steps in the lane of sharing and accepting that our human puzzle is made with different shapes of parts and it is not necessary to cut, warp, or deform those that do not look like us, or we do not understand, to get a clear and wonderful view of reality.

    What do you mean by "to make a point"?, I will try to find clear reasons, but if reasons are not important then there are no point in pursuing the subject. I am not sure I understood your question.

    Any religious person should follow the dogmas and teachings of their Religion, BUT... and this is a big but, no tenet can replace conscience, if any one of those tenets go against your feeling, I guess you must follow your mind and believe, firmly believe, that even if you are wrong, there will be mercy since it is the way your person reacts. About the possibility to keep believing in the system is, I guess, irrelevant since your action will make you to follow a diverted pace. My experience is that there are not two persons that will think the same about a belief, but they keep the title that identify them as believers in a Religion.

  2. Untony

    Yes, it is a difficult subject for some. I do think that most people I know have an awful lot to say about this, but are in fear of being called 'islamophobes' even when it is clearly not the case. I think we should discuss how we sometimes see things based on the information we know or had at the time (sometimes that information is wrong) That's why I explained how I felt during the 7/7 bombings and how it affected me.

    I must admit Untony, that thoughts did cross my mind as to if anyone would respond because I used the word 'muslim'. So I truly thank you for your points of view on this.

    You wanted clarification as you didn't know what I meant when when I said "to make a point' This was based on my first question in point 1. I will try to re-phrase this question in another way without taking away the meaning (if I can)

    I was asking the readers how far would each person go in order to show that they were very serious about an issue. Example: in this post I mentioned how far I was willing to go by explaining that I used to get off the train if someone looked like a muslim .....etc etc. This was me making a point of how far I went to justify the fact that I thought that I might get blown up at that particular time. Getting off the train was the end result of how far I took my cause.

    I also know of other people at the time, that decided that they did not want their family to be raised in the East end of London due to the bombings and the ethnic mix so have moved outside London. That was how far they went to prove a point.

    Does this make sense to you Untony?

    Your last sentence "my experience is that there are not two persons....." is very poignant to me because I see this happening a lot.

    1. Thank you, Rum, for your clarification. It makes the answer a bit more complicated.

      Here we go:

      Yes, Rum, it makes sense and it makes a different sense I thought the first time.

      I thought you were asking how far would I go to get a person to convert to my faith, in the case I had one, since I started in the middle of Druids, went on getting the water of life from Christianity and after travelling around the world found out that, as in the case of languages, all religions, whatever their names, seem to have grew from an unique stem, and blossom after a cultural veneer.

      And so, the answer to your question is: I would not take any effort to check if that guy beside me with a knapsack, or a round waist is carrying anything dangerous, you see, I had to work in many Muslim's countries and then it is terrible difficult to board any public transport and wish no Muslim on it!

      Also, something I inherited from Islam is the sense of predetermination, and from Christianity the Divine Providence action, so, from my viewpoint it is a bit too cautious to try and guess what is going to happen next second.

      I know all this is the outcome of my exposure to too many beliefs and different ways to accept faith, I feel that if the Deity wants me dead, there is nothing I can reasonable present as an argument against that decree, so it simplify my range of decisions.

      Up to now, it seems I am considered able to be kept alive!

    2. Thanks Untony. I just love the part when you say 'if the Deity wants me dead, there is nothing I can reasonable present..."
      There is an old saying "when your time is up, it's up". There is nothing we can do once that last breath has left your body. I am thankful you are alive.

  3. First of all, well done for grasping the nettle on a subject that a lot of people are afraid to tackle publicly, though in their inner circle everyone speaks about heatedly. Until we as a society do have dialogue, I believe progress toward coherence and integration will be hampered.
    I also notice that you want to focus our attention on ourselves, rather than marginalising 'them'.

    In response to your questions:
    1) My stance is now that I would not hurt a person for my beliefs. In fact, that is a fundamental aspect of my beliefs, so there is little conflict there.
    2) I have, in the past, gone against my instincts, better judgment or what-have-you because of the system I was in. On several occasions. It was always a mistake and something I have always regretted.
    Fortunately for me, this did not cost me my life or lead to permanent harm of anyone... to my knowledge.
    I'm definitely older now, and perhaps wiser. I'd like to think I'd never make the same mistake again.

    1. Shiloh, I would love someone from the muslim faith to comment here ( I assume you are not muslim but forgive me if I am wrong) This way we can have healthy dialogue and discuss differences, I know people are also scared of saying the wrong thing, or the possibility of their words being implied to mean something they didn't intend.
      At least you had time on your side to recognise your mistakes and become wiser :)

  4. Interesting topic here, it is discussion that takes place over the dinner table and in the security of friends but is often avoided in the public due to fear and over sensitivity.

    I think this issue of fear and anger can be approached from a few different angles. You can look at it from a Religious angle or from a sociological/political angle. From a Religious standpoint the question needs to be how far are you commanded to go? I can only talk from a Christian standpoint here, but I know that we have been given a set of life instructions to follow, rules and regulations from Moses all the way to Jesus and the apostles. So I have a framework to live by and I am fully aware of the limitations it gives me in terms of acceptable behavior, from a Christian standpoint. With the example you provided of the recent French terrorist activities the question is does those activities come from a Religious framework?
    Like many religions there can be different interpretations and denominations which will account for a verity of views in Britain, that will be in stark contrast to the views of a muslim in Pakistan for example.
    So in response to the question from a Religious standpoint you go as far as your understanding of your religion.
    From a Sociological and political standpoint its important to understand that people respond to external influences that shape the way they see the world and how they interact with its members. This viewpoint often takes the lead role over religion and shapes how we see our religion. For example if your a muslim and you see yourself as part of a wider muslim community across the world which are engaged in conflict with Christian or Religious less countries then this may cause you to go beyond the limits of your current belief to adopt more accommodating principles. But this is not exclusive to Islam and the radicals, lets not forget the number of Wars thats has been launched with the phrase 'God is on our side' in the West.
    To get to the bottom of this issue it is important to understand the framework and tone of Religions in all its complexities, then you can be better equipt to deal with the social and political aspects.
    So in response to your final question I am a Christian and have understanding of the framework and I am happy to say there is nothing inside it that I follow blindly or raises issues of morality.

    1. Marcus
      Interesting points you have made here..
      According to the Bible (I'm no expert) Abraham was told to kill his son. Abraham was willing to do this, until he was stopped. Would this not raise issues for you, within your christian framework if you were asked to do such a thing? just a thought.

    2. I am no expert either but Abraham was asked to perform a act of faith and because of his willingness he became he became the father of many and was blessed. Putting that into context, that was simply a test of faith and once a willingness to obey was shown a alternative act of faith was requested. During those times and throughout history human sacrifice have been part of various cultures and religions, look to moloch and baal for biblical references. You can also find historical references all over the world.
      Since Abraham, Moses came along and gave the commandments and according to those commandments human sacrifices is not permitted. So with that in mind I would never have to consider the morality and religious clash.

  5. I'm not very religious person and even if I was and someone requested or insisted me to do something that is against my own moral and understanding about right and wrong no matter was it in the name of God or what ever I wouldn't probably do it and questioned the whole ideology instead of obeying.

    And if I wanted to make a point about something I would be verbally very persistent and loud but rarely would do anything tangible, exept following my own ideology that way it wont literally violate, hurt or harm anyone.

    1. Amethyst
      I wish more people would vocally speak out and/or challenge things that went against their own moral understanding. Talking is always a good way to reduce a dispute (sometimes)

  6. One common misconception is that religions cause all wars or most of them, but if you look at the world history you would find that majority of the wars fought in the world had nothing to do with religion including the two world wars. The best way to know about any religion is to study the sacred scripture of that religion, not look at its followers. Suppose if you give a Mercedes car to a bad driver and he crashes it.That does not mean that the car has any defect. If you wanna know about the car then look at its specifications. In the same way if you wanna know about Islam, read the Holy Qur'an. To know about Christianity read the Bible. If you wanna see the car in action, then give it to a good driver. In the same if you wanna see Islam in action, then look at prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) in authentic sources because he is the apt representation of Islam. There are black sheep in every community even in the Muslim community. But they do not represent Islam or the Muslims. As IRA does not represent any Catholic out there and Lord's Resistance Army does not represent any Christian out there. In the same way any 9/11 and 7/7 attackers or any Merah do not represent Islam or Muslims. Because Qur'an clearly says in Sura Maidah Chapter 5 Verse 32 that if anybody kills any innocent human being, it is as though he killed the whole humanity and if anybody saves any innocent human being it is as though he saved the whole humanity. So harming any innocent person out there is prohibited in Islam irrespective of that person's faith. So being a practicing Muslim, I condemn 9/11, 7/7, recent attacks on France and in short any attack harming any innocent human being.
    The most misunderstood Islamic term is "Jihad". Jihad does not mean Holy War or any war fought by any Muslim for any reason. Jihad comes from the root word 'Jahada' which means 'to strive, to struggle'. So Jihad in the Islamic context means striving against one's own evil inclinations, striving to make the society better and even also includes striving in the battlefield in self defense and striving against tyranny and oppression. Fighting (Qital) is only one aspect of Jihad, which Islam only allows in self defense and against tyranny, tumult and oppression. Even Jesus Christ instructed his disciples to fight against falsehood. As Jesus Christ told his disciples in the Bible in Luke Ch 22 V 36 and in Mark Chapter 14 Verse 47 that take this sword, go and fight. Whenever I quote this to a Christian, he/she answers that Jesus taught fighting against evil and falsehood. So Qur'an speaks about the same thing, fighting against evil and falsehood.
    The Arabic word 'Kafir' means 'one who conceals the truth or a Non Muslim'. So a Non Muslim should not have a problem in being called a Non Muslim (Kafir). The 'Infidel killing' part must have been caused by the most misquoted Qur'anic verse of Sura Tauba Ch 9 V 5, which critics of Islam quote and say that Qur'an tells Muslims to kill all Non Muslim. While Chapter 9 of Qur'an starts by speaking about a peace treaty between the Muslims of Madina and pagans of Makkah, which was unilaterally broken by the pagans of Makkah. Allah tells the pagans to put the things straight in a period of 4 months or it is declaration of war and in the battlefield fight them and if required kill them. So Qur'an 9:5 is revealed in the battlefield. In order to boost up the morals of his soldiers any Army General would tell his soldiers to fight the enemy and kill them. He will not tell them to get scared and run away. Critics of Islam do not quote the very next verse 9:6, but jump to verse 7. Why? Because Verse 6 has the answer to their allegation. 9:6 says that if the enemies want peace, grant them peace and escort them to a place of security. The most generous Army General today would say, Leave the enemy. But Allah says escort the enemy to a place of security.
    So if you really wanna know about Islam do not look at the Muslims read the Quran

    1. Thanks Liaqat for taking the time to not only read this post, but also to comment as a muslim and furthermore, explain about Islam and what you think it actually means. It is amazing how words can be completely interpreted in different ways to make it fit a cause, whether good or bad. I have never read the Qur'an but the information provided here is very informative.

  7. I think fear is a big factor in all this. On a lot of levels.

    Terrorism by it's nature is the attempt to use fear to achieve an end.

    But what does that fear actually produce?

    9/11 provided a justification for the extension of American/allied power in the gulf region.

    Here, 7/7 got us even more CCTV etc. in a society which was already the most saturated in the world.

    And now in France it has led to a swing to the right and increased hostility towards an Arab community which already laboured under a heavy and grossly unfounded stigma.

    So much so that some people feel that it's timing, just before an election in which Sarko was trailing behind the left/socialists, is significant. French politicians are now falling over themselves to show a militant face towards Islam.

    Of course, I find the atrocities abhorrent in themselves, and a means unjustifiable to any end. But I can't see how the perpetrators don't see how they actually contribute to the strengthening of the very constituency that they claim to be trying to destroy.

    Witness Sarkozy’s ill-concealed glee at the opportunity it gave him to posture as defender of the freedoms of the French republic during a speech to his party.
    Witness the enraptured faces of the audience hailing their dwarf-saviour. Witness Le-Pen reaping a new harvest of votes for the far-right. A depressing, repugnant but instructive circus, aired by the BBC on Saturday.

    The moral of the story?
    Fear is a weapon which invariably backfires, often destroying those who try to use it.

  8. Liaqat Qazi makes a very valid opening point. It is very easy and far to often the case, that those outside of a faith cast blame on the faith for the worlds ills. More often than not it is the interpretation of a belief system that is in error not the system itself. I bring a different perspective as a Latter day Saint (Mormon) our beliefs include..

    "We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion."

    A careful look into any religion would probably reveal that the atrocities done in the name of that religion were probably against its basic tenants and carried out by individuals who used the religion for their own ends


  9. Replies
    1. John, yes you are. Thank you for following and I hope you enjoy reading and commenting when you can. I really appreciate people taking the time. Enjoy the ride.


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