Looking for Love in the Muslim, Christian and Jewish Worlds
~ the global renunciation of religious violence and bigotry ~
Jul 28, 2007
What will happen to the Muslim world if radical Islamic terrorists destroy the Western world, through nuclear or biological terrorism? What will happen to the Muslim world if all the Western “infidels” are killed, or converted at the end of a sword? Will it be a world that the vast majority of Muslims will enjoy living in?
Are moderate Islamic religious leaders and citizens prepared for the type of world that radical Muslims are fighting for? Are moderate Muslims prepared to live in a global Islamic totalitarian society that suppresses all religious freedom? Was it not enough to see what the Taliban did to Afghani society? Do the millions upon millions of rational and intelligent Muslims who value peace and freedom wish to yield their rights to radical Islamic dictators?
Who are the “true” Muslims? Do they include the millions of Islamic women who live behind veils or burkas, without rights or freedom? When will the oppressed women of the Islamic world rise up and demand equality? When will Muslim women begin to teach their sons to liberate women? The benefits of living in equality and peace should be shared by women as well as men.
Living in peace must become an overriding desire and goal of all religious and non-religious people, if the world is to survive. Living in peace must be brought down to a very personal level, to a level of heart and desire and emotion that precedes religion. Do small children care about doctrine? Muslim, Christian and Jewish mothers nurse their children in the same way, with the same heart of love. The love that is found in any good family transcends religion. Does this not provide a clue to an ethic of peace that religious leaders and citizens can adopt?
Shylock, in Shakespeare’s play, the Merchant of Venice, asked:
A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim all have eyes and affections and passions. In that fact rests our hopes for peace. We all share, at the very deepest level, the desire to live in peace and walk the “path of love”. Why then is the world in such terrible danger?
I deliberately did not include Shylock’s next phrase, “if you poison us, do we not die ? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge ?” Just as all humans share the same desire for love, we also share the darker emotions such as the desire for revenge. We hate, and desire revenge, because we have been wronged. One cannot whitewash the sins of one group against another. Nothing really takes the place of a transgressor repenting with full responsibility for his deeds. Until apology and repentance are a common commodity, resentment will continue to fester in the hearts of those who have been victimized.
However, is violent revenge an appropriate response to injury? Will it not produce an endless downward spiral until death is the only victor? Human history on all sides is a history of bloodshed and aggression. Christians, Muslims and Jews have all contributed to our common and unfortunate history of violence.
Revenge and hatred seem to be motivating the radical Islamic terrorists who are set upon the destruction of the west. Anger has stimulated some Islamic citizens to violence, in response to insults such as the Danish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Yet, what of the more serious injury to others that was caused by their violent reaction? Which was the graver sin, the insulting cartoon or the mob violence?
Muslims who resort to violence and aggression would do well to remember Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum at such a bloody cost to his own troops that he said, “one more such victory and we are lost.”
When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said that the solution to the Middle East crisis was to destroy Israel, was he considering the cost? The cost would include retaliation against Iran, but there are other costs as well. One is the damage that such violence would do to the heart and soul of the people of Iran. Another is the gap in the world community if Israel was gone. Would it not be like a wound in our global body? This is true not just of Israel, but of any country or group of people, including Iran. Can the peace loving citizens of Iran continue to allow Ahmadinejad to pursue his violent and aggressive course of action?
Living in peace requires that we leave religious bigotry behind, for intolerance is the breeding ground of violence. It did not help the cause of peace when Pope Benedict XVI recently approved a document that stated that the Catholic church was the one true church. It doesn’t help remove the resentment of Muslims when some evangelical Christians state that Muslims are all going to hell unless they accept Jesus. Jewish leaders cannot ignore the anger that Muslims have toward them because of the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine and the subsequent creation of the State of Israel in 1948. In the midst of problems like these, the one element that has frequently been missing is the commitment to love others unselfishly.
Walking the path of love depends upon the belief that we are indeed a global human family, all connected to each other by our common traits of kindness, love and the desire for happiness. It is a tragedy of tragedies that Muslims, Christians and Jews, the so-called “children of Abraham” who all believe in the same God, have been unable to live in peace. A question that Muslims, Christians and Jews should be asking themselves today is:
“Does God want us to serve the citizens of all nations and religions as true brothers and sisters, bound together by a common heart of love?”
Religious leaders and believers must be willing to rise above the boundaries of religion and embrace members of other faiths with the same love that they would give their own children and brothers and sisters. Even though some passages in the Bible and Qu’ran seem to justify religious violence, the common sense springing from our deeper hearts of love must stimulate us to categorically reject violence and aggression.
The time has come to create a global consensus that the ethic of unselfish love and service must become the primary ethic for humankind. It is an ethic that transcends religious doctrine and will thus enable all of us to establish a world of true and lasting peace.
Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”
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