VIOLENCE IN RELIGION 8
Fromancient times, the teachings of all religions have been at theforefront in the call of humankind liberation. Religious systems,doctrines, and beliefs were structured to promote peace, love, andunity among its believers and those neighboring them. Actions ofhatred and violence were condemned by the religious leaders and anyperpetrators were cursed and banned from the religious community.Religious rules and laws were passed from one generation to another,either orally or on written manuscripts to prevent the eruption ofviolence. However, the situation has changed greatly over the years.In fact recently, religious sects are at the forefront participatingin and aiding violence activities. Radical groups sprout on religiousroots and religious systems have adopted extreme approaches toinfluence and stamp their beliefs to others. Similarly, attackslinked to certain religion with different ideologies are rising at analarming rate. In this paper, I will critically look at violence inreligion, empirical evidence of such acts, warrant explanations onthe evidence, challenges faced when trying to curb the issue, and theway forward if we were to face out the issue in the future.
Violencein religion is a two side affair on one side the religious systemsare the subjects while on the other side they are the objects ofviolent acts. Violence in religion comprises of actions that aretriggered or in reaction to certain beliefs, doctrines, and religioustexts (Robert, 1987). In most cases, these actions targetreligious-affiliated institutions, people, and even objectstherefore, violence in religion does not only occur when religiousgroups attack other religious sects or secular groups. The attackscarried by secular individuals and groups to religious ones are alsounder this bracket. All forms of violence are cultural processes(Tokuno, 2004). They are contextual making them very complex, and sois religion violence. The processes of oversimplifying certainreligious ideas in conjunction to violence have resulted inmisinformed opinion and exaggeration on why people have resorted toviolence acts within religion. This has led to the notion of theindividual blame on violent acts rather than collectiveresponsibility when they arise. It is, however, clear that violencein religion is carried out under the large umbrella of conflictingideological ideas and is the main cause of social, political, andeconomic instability in the contemporary society.
EmpiricalEvidence and Warranted Explanations
Violencein religion cannot go unnoticed the term may be considered harsh andunpleasant among religious scholars since from time immemorialreligions have opposed forces of violence for a peaceful existence.Religions were involved in negotiations and reconciliation processes.However, from the scriptures of sacred texts of world`s religions, itis evident that the stories of peace and love come in line with thoseof violence and war (Terrence, 2004). Like in Christianity,Israelites attack their neighbors in order to conquer them and expandtheir territories. Islamic also talk of the holy war Jihad in orderto spread it among the non-believers. This is a clear indication thatevidence on religion violence can be traced from ancient times.
Inthe contemporary society, the situation is even worse one of theevident features is the religion sponsored terrorism. I will drawspecific evidence from Islamic-linked terrorism. Islamic terrorismincorporates terror attacks carried out by Islamic sects or personswho confess to Islamic ideologies (Robert, 2005). In most cases,these groups are opportunistic citing the Quran and interpreting thescriptures in their favor. The number of attacks was initially highin Middle East states but in recent past, the attacks are a threatglobally hitting African, European, and Asian countries.
Thebasic ideology behind Islamic terrorism is Wahhabis (Sharma, 2016).According to the ideology, it is justified to go to war against everyperson who has different ideas from you. The ideology has led toextreme groups like Taliban, AL Qaeda, and Al Shabab, which have beeninvolved in fatal attacks. This ideology is, however, opposed by amajority of Muslims who are against the intolerant Wahhabi. It is,therefore, as a result of such conflicting interests that theseradicalized militant group not only attack non-Muslims but alsofellow Muslims who do not align to Wahhabi. In India, this ideologyhas been spread under the tag of Deobandi and it is held responsiblefor the violent attacks against the tolerant Sufi Muslims.
Themilitant groups have gone an extra mile to create a transnationalideology in order to gain fame and support within the Islamic world.It points western world as the real enemies of the Islamic world.They view every move in the western world as an act of war againstIslam. Islamists have always judged daily happenings as the historicstruggle that has been there between them and Christians (Talal,2003). Osama Bin Laden, who was the leader of Al Qaeda terror group,points out the Western world as aggressive and justifies his moves asdefensive. Defensive Jihadist has always painted the terrorists asvictims rather than the real aggressors. It, therefore, calls forIslamic groups to stand out violently and liberate themselves fromvictimization. It is on this basis that the groups have fiercelyfought western countries and Israel`s policies all over the world.They have also extended the attacks on allies of western countries inAfrica and Asia.
TheUnited States of America army colonel Dale C., once argued that theideology basis on Islamic is the foundation of Al Qaeda and othermilitant groups (Robert, 1987). He goes on to describe the ideologyas a collective package of violent Islamic ideas. In a summary whichhe calls Qutbism, he points out that Islam has moved away from thetrue religion teachings. He urges Islamic believers to take apersonal move to read and interpret the Quran on their own ratherthan relying on scholars.
Historicrivalry between Indians and Muslims has also been attributed todeadly attacks from the Islamic terrorists (Sharma, 2016). In fact,India tops the list of the countries that have been hit most byIslamic attacks as per the data collected by the United States ofAmerica Defense department.
Immoralsecularization is also another justification of terror attacks onwestern countries (Gabel, 2005). Islamic groups condemn westerncountries for the secularization wave that has spread globally. Theyassert that the freedom of speech in their countries have resulted tosocial vices like homosexuality, lesbianism, drug abuse, and evenchild pornography. Islamist militants have also warranted theirattacks under this umbrella in the pretext of conserving the moralsof the society and prevent western forces from invading their regionsand spreading immoral behavior.
Challengesfaced in the move to curb
Violencein religion has become a thorn to both national and internationalsecurity this has led to interfaith workshops, seminars, andconferences in the quest to address the issue.
Thefirst major challenge is the collection of data from the believers onthe ground about conflicting issues that have always led to violence(Talal, 2003). During the data collection process, even mereselection of adequate researchers is not easy as many people think. The tension and the actual eruption of religious violence are themajor tasks to be examined in almost all the societies. However,researchers encounter rejections and disappointments in the field.For instance in 2003, the interviewees in Iraq were not willing togive out information making it difficult to conduct any successfulinterview on interfaith conflict within the region (Robert, 2005).They argued that there is no good reason to discuss the relationsbetween the faiths and peace. Such responses have slowed down themove towards solving the problems.
Misinterpretationof holy texts has also posed a major challenge when it comes tobringing violence in religion under control (Gabel, 2005). Manybelievers like in the case of Christians fail to identify the impactstranslation had on original texts. It is clear that certain words inthe holy texts were corrupted in order to fit into the linguisticcontexts of the secondary languages. It is, therefore, necessary tokeep a critical mind and think of related meaning rather than theliteral meaning. A literal interpretation of the holy texts like theQuran and the Bible has been the source of conflicts and religiousviolence. Both the Quran and the Bible talk of peace and war it isan individual’s responsibility to choose what is right.
Theattempt to exclude secular from religious violence has posed a greatchallenge and slowed down tackling of violence in religion (Gabel,2005). Scholars have found it illogical to differentiate the two asseparate entities. When does one become secular violence and whendoes it become religious?
Anotherreason behind the slow move towards solving the problem is thesuperiority complex among the religions. Christian scholars andbelievers view Christianity as the prestigious and superior religionover other religions. Muslims have the same feeling on the otherhand. The pride among the faithful has made it impossible for them tosit and come up with measures that will lead to a win-win situationfor both sides. In the case of a scheduled meeting, every partymember comes along with a percentage of conditions that MUST beadhered to by the other party. This makes it impossible to reach aconsensus since each party has very rigid terms and is not open todiscussion.
Inconclusion, it is clear from the above argument that violence inreligion is a reality. Scholars have learned that such violence hasled to a lot of suffering to mankind in the contemporary world. Thesesufferings can range from acts of suicidal killings, hijackings,kidnappings and execute, sexual molestation, psychological torture tointernet hacking. To curb the menace it is, therefore, necessary forthe interfaith religious leaders to put aside denominationaldifferences and iron out everything. It is also necessary for thesociety to be emancipated on the need to look at the wider commongoal of religion which is liberation of mankind rather than focusingon minor differences that will cause conflicts and violence.
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