17 September, 2006

Defining Evil: With Reference To History...

As the onslaught is repetitive, I too am - in kind, here. And, as history is being used - I too, am using history here. Recent history. Very recent indeed.

Talking of history, vis-a-vis - Islam being a 'violent', 'cruel', 'destructive' and an 'evil' ideology: in the last few hundred years of World history, which group has been at the center of or caused the most deaths, destruction and suffering? Some of which, too horrific to even imagine!

Be it the colonizing and 'assimilation ' of others through brute force; be it the horrific First World War; or the Second one, which engulfed countries from Europe to Far East Asia; be it the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki; or Vietnam or Apartheid. Muslims were never at the center of these. Just taking a look at some of the most heinous characters of the last century, can tell us much: Hitler and Mussolini; Stalin; Cecil Rhodes; and Pol Pot. Not to forget, most recently: Slobodan Milosevic, General Ratko Mladic and Dr. Radovan Karadzic. I wonder: what would have been said, had any of these men been Muslims? And how does one interpret 'the opposition of the United States to the International Criminal Court?

Just to mention, a subject that's close to me personally: the recent genocide in Rwanda! Rwanda boasts the highest percentage of Christians of any African nation, and yet see what happened! I quote: "Almost a million people lost their lives within a few days. Millions more were uprooted and fled for their lives. But Rwanda was known as a "Christian" country! It had strong churches. Where were the Christians? Couldn't they stop the carnage? What really happened? I began to ask questions, but failed to find answers. Who can ever understand a human tragedy of such magnitude? But I came to realise that these questions are to be addressed to us all, the Christians of every country. Maybe Rwanda3 isn't that unique after all! I think this painful story confronts us with a number of missiological issues we cannot evade." And how does one confront one of the most forgotten evil, crimes ever: that of Joseph Kony in Uganda; and his LRA?

I mention these, just so as to emphasize a point: all of the World's Great religions, are noble and preach goodness - it IS people who are bad and evil. Through out history, people have used religion as a cover to: subjugate, dominate and destroy. IT IS PEOPLE WHO HAVE EVIL TENDENCIES. NOT ANY OF THE GREAT RELIGIONS.

I can not judge Christians by: the slavery and segregation practiced just a few years ago in the United States and the Americas; or how it was interpreted by: Hitler, or Cecil Rhodes and the apartheid regime that was in South Africa; or by the Klu Klux clan and their doings; or by Joseph Kony in Uganda. Or by the many Christians who still believe certain groups/races of Mankind, are superior to others. I do not judge Christianity using these rulers. And no one should.

The history of the West, whose main driving force has always been Christianity - is so bloody and so full of violence, that when I read of certain events during the conquest of the Americas and Australia, how the Indians - and in particular: the Aborigines, were subjugated and almost utterly annihilated - I wonder at those who repeatedly keep saying at how 'evil' and 'brutal' Islam is. The Aborigines, till recently were treated no better than sub-humans. Apartheid South Africa is still fresh in our memories.

Take Australia, a country that I have the highest regards and admiration for: "Until the 1960s Aboriginal people were denied basic political rights, including the right to vote. However, by the mid-1960s Aboriginal people had the right to vote in both state and federal elections. A 1967 referendum gave the federal government the power to pass legislation relating to all indigenous people in Australia. Since then the Australian government has tried to make up for past mistreatment by greatly increasing funding to improve Aboriginal people’s socioeconomic standing and by passing legislation to restore Aboriginal land rights. In addition, decisions by the High Court of Australia have given legal recognition to the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were the original landowners of the country. Issues of reconciliation between the white majority population and Aboriginal people figure prominently in Australian public life today. Nevertheless, compared to the Australian population as a whole, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today continue to suffer disproportionately from serious social problems such as poverty, unemployment, lack of education, substandard housing, and poor health." Same can be said about the status of Native Americans in the US; but this does not stop me from liking Australia and the US - and admiring certain very good qualities in their systems.

No one and not I - should negatively judge the West and generalize all that they are. I, in fact, have many Western friends, and should I be in the US or Canada or Europe - I know, there are many homes of friends, whose homes I will indeed feel very much at home, in. And they are not Muslims.

Taking Islam's history or a Quranic verse, and negatively judging us Muslims and Islam as a whole on that basis - is: inflammatory, intentional and provocative. Just as: should I also take certain parts of a certain religion and judge that religion using that part.

Lastly but not least - I, as a Muslim, have the same respect and reverence for: Adam, Noah, Lot, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Ishmael, Isaac, Jesus and all the other Prophets. Just as I have for my own Prophet of Islam. Indeed, we believe that Jesus will return and be the last ruler on this wretched Earth. It seems, it is only and till then - those who preach: hatred, violence and confrontation - will be brought in line and order!