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Opinion: Is war the only way to peace?


Here is an analysis equally applicable to both Christian and Muslim countries: by choosing to pursue conflict instead of peace, nationalistic and violent opposition is the natural and predictable consequence that has nothing to do with the religion of the inhabitants and everything to do with the injustice and violence visited upon them by their aggressors.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Ahmadiyya Times
By Jonathan M.A.Ghaffar | May 13, 2012

Undeniably, the world today is facing monumental problems. Political, religious and economic — these are the three frameworks we tend to view the many different crises we are dealing with, but the common denominator among all of them is that human beings are adversely and often tragically affected.

Without question, the entire world is suffering immense economic upheavals. These naturally intensify civil and religious strife, so not only has poverty (along with civil and religious unrest) reached epidemic proportions across the globe, but there is a growing perception that the Muslim peoples from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria and Indonesia are embroiled in terrorist activities and are the extremists of their Faith. This tends to be reflected in the common sentiment among many Westerners — be they Christians, Jews, or secularists — that Islam and Muslims are the root cause of social, political and religious discord in the present age, and indeed throughout the past 1400 years.

But is this a fair assessment politically or historically? Or does it merely reflect a post-9/11 Western, Judeo-Christian bias against Islam? Are Muslims (predicted to out-number Christians by 2025) violent, conquest-driven, and intent on empire-building and engaging in an unrelenting “Holy War” against their perceived enemies, usually thought to be Israel and the Western, Christian nations?

This clearly is the image presented by almost all of the non-Muslim media, with the purpose being to paint Islam as a terrorist and ideological threat to Western institutions and supposedly Judeo-Christian values. But again, is this a valid assessment? Anti-Islamists go to a lot of time and trouble to depict Islam and its teachings as totally alien and completely in opposition to Christian values.

But anyone who takes the time to read a basic list of Islamic injunctions — such as the ones that forbid and condemn adultery, fornication, homosexuality, murder, infanticide, idolatry, drinking, gambling, suicide, bribery, theft and lying — would be hard-pressed to declare these prohibitions as being contrary to, or outside the pale of, Judeo-Christian teachings in either the Old or the New Testament.

The Apostle Paul’s list of sins in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 and in Galatians 5:20-21 that will bar your entry into Heaven include: adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, envy, murder, drunkenness, sodomy and extortion — so much for Islamic teachings being unlike or opposed to Christian or Jewish ones.

Now let’s examine the charge of violence and terrorism. Islam clearly forbids Muslims from being the aggressors in any conflict, but it does give Muslims the right of self-defense if attacked. Islam also clearly condemns those who kill others unjustly, or who create disorder in the land. As for warfare, it is to be adopted only as a last resort and then only in the defense of one’s life, faith or the lives and faiths of others. The Islamic “rules of engagement” as prescribed by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) are very well-known by Muslims and even non-Muslims, and predate the United Nations human rights laws and the Geneva conventions by fourteen centuries.

In brief, the rules of Muslim warfare forbid the killing of anyone except the enemy combatants arrayed against them on the field of battle, nor are Muslims permitted to chase down and kill the enemy should they turn and flee the battlefield. Muslims are forbidden to mutilate the enemy dead or take body parts as “trophies.” Muslims are also expressly forbidden to kill any civilians, including women, children, old men or members of the religious clergy. Even the killing of livestock is forbidden. Muslims can not destroy orchards, crops, houses, places of worship (regardless of the religion), nor can they poison water supplies such as wells or streams. All of these heinous acts are and have been commonplace and accepted during all the wars fought by and between all the Christian nations. During World War II, the civilian populations of Dresden and Tokyo were fire-bombed, killing hundreds of thousands, and you only have to say the names of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to know what happened there.

Islamic terrorism is the buzz word of the day, every day, yet no one remembers the “terrorism” committed by the U.S. bombing of Iraqi cities with depleted uranium shells during the first and second Iraq wars, or the economic sanctions against Iraq following the first Gulf war which resulted in the deaths of one million Iraqis, 75-percent of them estimated to be children under the age of five. That was generational genocide on the scale of Hitler or Pol Pot, yet are the so-called Christian nations responsible for this castigated or brought to justice for such evils? Not yet, probably not ever. If asked whether they think they did any evil at all, they would undoubtedly deny it. Does that diminish the nature or sin of the evil? Not in the eyes of God.

So why is it that terrorism by so-called Muslim extremists – who are violating major commandments in their religion and thereby consigning themselves to Hell for their actions – why is it only “Islamic” terrorism seems to get the lion’s share of attention on the world media stage, despite the fact that the death tolls from all acts of terrorism from all perpetrators averages between 1,000 and 2,000 annually, compared to one military incursion by the Israelis into the Gaza strip that killed over 1,200 Palestinians, most of whom were armed only with rocks.

The irony of “Islamic terrorism” is that the majority of the victims are Muslims themselves – members of one sect attacking members of another within the same body of the religion; Sunnis against Shias, for example. And in cases where Muslim extremists attack non-Muslims, the motivation is invariably political and not religious; such as Al-Qaeda or Taliban forces attacking U.S. or coalition forces and targets. And even when Al-Qaeda attacks Muslims, as in the numerous attacks on Shias by Al-Qaeda Sunnis, the purpose is political intimidation and control, not religious blood-letting.

America can, if it so chooses, be a great and morally responsible leader in the world because it is a superpower; yet because of its engagement in unethical military adventurism in various strategic areas of the world, we stand to lose spiritually and morally much more than we will ever gain militarily and materially. All the military “wins” we garner will not, in the long run, carry the day with God.

We cannot afford to let ourselves be deluded into thinking that our military “might” makes us morally “right.” It can never do so. This is the singular lesson we should have learned from Vietnam. Might does not make right. We must not let our leaders and their defense industry supporters convince us that losses which we suffer through these conflicts will become gains in the future. They will not.

We can not even estimate the potential loss in lives and resources we may be forced to endure if these conflicts stretch into the decades. And there will be no worldly remedy for this catastrophe if our methodology and past practices continue unchecked and unabated.

I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and we believe that the Promised Messiah of the Age, whose advent was foretold in all the Holy Scriptures of the world, has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, who claimed to be the awaited Messiah as well as the Imam Mahdi for the Muslims. It was also foretold that when this person appeared, he would abolish war, and deliver the cogent arguments leading to the death of spiritual falsehood and the rejuvenation of Islam, instead of the military conquests for material gain expected by so many Muslims.

But sadly, only those Muslims and other spiritual truth-seekers who accept his claims and join his blessed Community will be protected from the evils and trials of this world. All the rest will suffer in their ignorance or malice and be consumed by the fires forged by their worldliness, intolerance, hatred, greed and despair.

This is the reason that when Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed he was the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, he said that violent, aggressive Jihad was no longer allowed. When he said these things, the Muslim clerics issued their verdicts (fatwas) against him, proclaiming him to be non-Muslim because he abolished the Jihad with the sword and fighting against the “disbelievers.”

These people considered – and still consider — the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to be non-Muslim in large part because of the founder’s repudiation of violent warfare as Jihad in Islam.

The governments of the Western, Eastern and otherwise Christian countries could immeasurably contribute to the eradication of violent Jihad in Islam by not engaging in the merciless shedding of the blood of humanity in their political and socio-economic conquests in and of other nations — not just those populated by Muslims.

Here is an analysis equally applicable to both Christian and Muslim countries: by choosing to pursue conflict instead of peace, nationalistic and violent opposition is the natural and predictable consequence that has nothing to do with the religion of the inhabitants and everything to do with the injustice and violence visited upon them by their aggressors. It is no surprise that such resistance gets dressed up in the religion of that country’s majority population. Every resistance movement that is not communist has draped itself in the flag of its predominant faith.

For instance, we saw how the Western alliance led by the U.S. invaded Iraq on the pretext of disarming Saddam Hussein from his “weapons of mass destruction” (none of which ever turned up) and we only learned after the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies had told the Bush Administration there were no WMD’s (something U.N. weapons inspectors reported in November 2002) yet the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq anyway — not to liberate the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, but to liberate the Iraqi people from their oil.

No better proof of this was given than at the start of the invasion in March 2003, when President George W. Bush went on national TV and expressly begged the Iraqi people to not destroy their oil fields in the wake of invading U.S. forces. Why? Because you can’t take the oil out of the ground if it’s on fire or the pumping equipment is destroyed. Not surprisingly, the very first area the U.S. military occupied and “secured” at the start of hostilities was Iraq’s southern oil fields. We even named them Forward Operations Bases “Shell” and “Exxon.”

This pattern of resource-motivated conflict is hardly unique to America, of course, but can be seen in the bloody history of human beings stretching back thousands of years. You would think, as a supposedly civilized, educated and freedom-loving country, we would be striving to remedy our mistakes and not repeat them with an avaricious abandon cloaked in the mythic “clash of civilizations” between the Christian West and Muslim East.

A lesson so simple even a child can comprehend it seems to escape the ethical sensibilities of so many adults: it is morally repugnant and totally indefensible to instigate war on false pretenses for material gain and political control. To then maintain our military presence to secure the worldly goals we have hidden behind the façade of “saving” the people of a country we have invaded only adds insult to injury.

We lost the war in Vietnam because of exactly this same “death for dollars” mindset that kept that conflict on-going for over a decade, resulting in the loss of 65,000 American lives and an estimated two-million Vietnamese lives, without any political gain whatsoever. But economically, the Vietnam war was immensely beneficial for American companies and our economy. It is this reality that fuels the continued militarism to which America seems to find itself perpetually enslaved. Make no mistake; our military understood the infeasibility of victory in Southeast Asia over 50 years ago when the French ended their failed occupation, but we also clearly understood the advantage of maintaining our military presence in potentially volatile regions, as well as the long-term profitability for arms manufacturers of prolonged, on-going conflicts.

We now see the same U.S. strategy of military presence coupled with control and exploitation of vital resources at work in Afghanistan. First it was only about access to natural gas reserves and the ability to transport them to the Balkans that got our (and the Soviets’) attention. But now, with the recently discovered deposits of rare minerals and precious metals worth trillions of dollars, our occupation of Afghanistan looks to become as entrenched and immobile as a tick on a lame dog. Shall we continue to trade our morality for money?

President Eisenhower warned America about this danger posed by the Military-Industrial complex and the terrible moral, spiritual and ultimately political consequences of allowing it to remain unchecked. And it is not difficult to see what is happening now. Do we honestly believe we can win the wars in the Near and Mid-East and in other hot-spots and thus bring peace with a sword? True, we may end up killing vast numbers of foreign peoples, but attrition by itself is not always a guarantee of success in warfare.

America learned this bitter lesson in Vietnam, where 65,000 Americans died over 15 years along with an estimated (and forgotten) two-million Vietnamese. And in the end, it was America who left in disgrace, beaten, even though we “won” every major battle in the war. In the end we still lost. The reasons for that loss should be remembered before we end up repeating a tragedy of greed and blood in the lands of the Muslims and the Mujahideen as we did five decades earlier in the lands of the Buddhists and the Communists.

  — Opinion: Is war the only way to peace?
  — Ahmadiyya Times
  — Jonathan M.A.Ghaffar

———————–
Jonathan M.A.Ghaffar is a writer, speaker and educator on Islam. He lives in Chino, CA and writes on many subjects including politics, social issues, comparative religion, Christianity and the historical Jesus. He blog www.JonathanMAGhaffar.blogspot.com and can be reached via his e-mail at JonathanMAG@Gmail.com

This content-post is archived for backup and to keep archived records of any news Islam Ahmadiyya. The views expressed by the author and source of this news archive do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Ahmadiyya Times.

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One Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very Good Article. Al-hamdu'lilah

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