The Religion of Terror?There is something inherently wrong with a religion that allows its adherents to carry out such actions as suicide bombings and the taking of hostages, with the threat that the hostages will be executed unless the demands of their captors are met. This is the situation in
Some will say that these are the actions of fanatics, and do not represent the beliefs and practices of the Muslim “mainstream.” I’d like to believe this to be true; but right now, I can’t help but wonder if it can possibly be so. I have a hard time conceiving of a religion that teaches the devaluing of a human life to the point where it can be used as a “bargaining chip” to negotiate for what the terrorist desires to achieve. “If you release persons who have been arrested for having committed a crime, I’ll set free the young boys and girls of your school; but if you don’t do as I say, I will shoot them – and if you try to rescue them, I’ll blow them up, and the school with them.” Is this the act of a rational person? Is this the act of a person who has submitted himself or herself to the will of God?
Where are the leaders of the Muslim community? If these terrorists do not, in fact, represent the beliefs and practices of Islam, where are the leaders who publicly denounce these actions, and call upon the terrorists to release their captives, and lay down their arms? Can you imagine the Pope, or the Patriarch of Moscow, or Billy Graham, remaining silent if this was a band of Christians who were threatening the lives of innocent people, innocent children? (In fairness, there have been some, although it seems that these are usually "scholars," and not the imams, the actual religious leaders. One such scholar gave this interview days after the attacks of 9/11.)
Now, I realize that this is not a “black and white” situation – "Christians good, Muslims evil." All you have to do is think of the strife, the bombings, and the shootings that took place in
Remember the account in the Gospel of St. Matthew of the time of our Lord’s arrest in the Garden at
I’m trying very hard not to judge an entire religion based upon the actions of a few of its followers; but I must confess that I can’t help but think that we are, knowingly or unknowingly, engaged in a religious war. Not only that: I think most of us in the west don’t get it. We tend to think of warfare in geopolitical terms: one country against another, or one group against another, fighting to take (or retain) control over territory, and the people and resources of that territory. I fear we are not ready to engage an opponent who has taken the concept of jihad from the level of the struggle against the self in order to do our part in the process of sanctification unto salvation – what we Orthodox call asceticism – and extended it to be “holy war” against the infidels who do not share the same religious beliefs, and must be converted or eliminated. To the extent that suicide bombers and hostage-takers continue to justify their actions on the basis of their religious beliefs – and that religion is Islam – they make it hard to believe that their religion is one of peace, and which places a value on human life.
UPDATE: 4 September 2004
There has been some reaction in the Arabic press condemning the situation in Russia, and
acknowledging that most of the terrorists active in the world today are Muslims.