“Osama Bin Laden didn’t strap on any explosive vest or learn how to fly himself, you know.”
Posted by Cliverton
Marcus left this comment on a recent post Freedom, Understanding and the Middle East: One Muslim’s view. I think it’s worth a separate post…
I’m off to work shortly, so I must be brief. Perhaps I’ll expand upon this train of thought later…
1/ There was a time in Christendom when to announce you were “Catholic” in England or “Protestant” in Spain would get you burned at the stake, imprisoned, tortured etc.. That violence in the name of God was supposed to be about what God wanted, but it was really about achieving or maintaining temporal power by the elites of the day.
2/ Much of what we later called “The Reformation” was about power groups and not about spirituality, beliefs, God, Jesus etc. It was about the economic, political and social power that accompanied commitment to one side or the other. Yes, the foundation of the Reformation was a dispute about religious beliefs, but on many levels it was about power, control, money, territory. Call it “Political Religion” as opposed to “Spiritual Religion”.
3/ Similarly, much of the turmoil, violence and confrontation happening between the various Islamic sects and also directed at non-Muslims is about power, control, money, territory. Yes, there is disagreement about spiritual religion – often violent disagreement – amongst Muslims and by Muslims against non-Muslims, but we in the West and many Muslims themselves often ignore how much of the violence is about power, not religion. Religious fervor in young (primarily male) Muslims is cultivated and whipped up to be used as a weapon by the Islamic elites. Osama Bin Laden didn’t strap on any explosive vest or learn how to fly himself, you know.
4/ At the end of the Christian Reformation (or more accurately after several hundred years of turmoil following the great split within Western Christianity) there was a general recognition and acknowledgement by both Catholics and Protestants that persons should not be killed for their religious beliefs, or for questioning dogma or religious texts. There was also a recognition that the religious texts had been subject to a thousand and more years of revision, translation and modification and, even if the texts had not been modified – they were created within certain cultural, linguistic and historical contexts that might not be valid now.
5/ The freedom to study and openly discuss the foundations of one’s own beliefs, and the beliefs of others, was one of the great benefits and results of the Christian Reformation. Even within the Catholic side of the divide, the impacts of this new freedom were strong and positive. The benefits of the freedom can be seen throughout Western society.
6/ Islam needs its own Reformation.
Could go on but I must be out the door or I’ll never make it.
How interesting it is that our friend Ahmed from Pakistan is willing to visit with all of us at BFP and to discuss and perhaps disagree with obvious good will – to foster understanding all around…
…YET some Bajans say that the mere mention of our concerns with Islamic violence and human rights abuses is somehow racist and we should not discuss these things.
Now I’m late! Bye!