A Spiritual Jihad Against Violence and Terrorism - Part V

A Spiritual Jihad Against Violence and Terrorism - Part V

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO STOP TERRORISM

 

WE NEED TO DEFINE OUR TERMS


The common desire to prevent WWIII and bring peace to the world requires that we first come to a common understanding of religious terminology and beliefs, and of political and social terminology.  Without this we are talking “at” each other, but not “with” each other.  For example if I say we need a jihad against terror that will be heard differently by mainstream Muslims than it will be heard by Christians or Jews who will probably only hear the “loaded” term jihad which will trigger an emotional reaction, effectively blocking real communication.

“Catholicism is a language. Judaism is a language. Islam is a language. They have to be respected. They bring something unique and important, but they have to meet in a way in which they can converse with each other as if there was a kind of a “spiritual Esperanto.” And I can speak to my peers and speak a common language, at the same time recognizing that the particular language has to be respected. So I have to overcome the “either/or” notion and speak in term of the “both/and” notion.” Rabbi Harold Schulweis

It would seem that we are allowing our personal loyalties to our religious, ethnic and national identities and prejudices to get in the way of fairness and justice.  We are currently substituting profit for justice, occupation for liberty, exclusiveness for inclusiveness, sectarian for universal causes, self-existence for pro-existence, destruction for change, violence for dialogue, bullets for words, and ritual oriented for values based religion.

We need to regain our consciousness to be aware of our connection to each other— to care about not only what happens to US but what happens to THEM. We need to recognize violence in all its forms. We recognize war and murder as violence. We need to recognize poverty, hunger, homelessness, racism, prejudice and all forms of intolerance, bigotry and injustice against any people anywhere as acts of violence which damage the human spirit, and to understand that we cannot have peace as long as these acts of violence continue.

As we try to find our way out of present circumstances to the next level (inshaa’a-Llaah) of human development, we must not shirk our personal or community responsibility, our national or our moral and ethical foundation, our duty to look critically at the tracks in the sand before they disappear, to see from whence we came, and to look ahead to the horizon, towards where we are headed. Let us go forward with our hands extended in sisterhood and brotherhood to all as peacemakers, reconcilers, seekers after knowledge, and givers of hope. Other people may define us with their words; let us define ourselves with our actions and contributions. Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa) alone is the best Guide and the best Friend.Fundamentals and Fundamentalism, Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid

 

WE NEED TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE

 

“For me, then the question, “How to Stop Terrorism”? is easy. We stop terrorism first of all by stopping our own terrorism! We cannot fight terrorism by becoming terrorists. We cannot end terrorism by using the methods of terrorism to bomb and kill Iraqis, to occupy Iraq, to support the terrorist occupation of the Palestinians, and to hold the world hostage with our nuclear weapons. We must bring the troops home from Iraq, fund nonviolent democratic peacemakers in Iraq, send food and medicine to Iraq, support United Nations’ nonviolent peacemaking solutions, end world hunger immediately, cut all U.S. military aid everywhere, dismantle every one of our nuclear weapons, fund jobs, education and healthcare at home and abroad, clean up the environment and teach nonviolence to everyone around the world, beginning at home in every U.S. classroom. ... As I watch the TV news reporters and commentators, I am amazed at their lack of understanding. Half the world considers the United States the leading terrorist in the world, by our public spokespeople remain clueless about what’s really going on. We are seen as terrorists by many around the world because we bombed and killed 100,000 people in Iraq in 2003, and because we have over 20,000 weapons of mass destruction, (many of them in my neighborhood in New Mexico), which we are willing to use on any nation that does not support “U.S. interests.” Our wars and bombing raids and hostility toward the world’s poor are turning the world against us. We are breeding thousands of new terrorists, desperate poor people who have nothing, whose backs are up against the wall, and who have learned from our total violence to adopt the lunacy of violence, even suicidal violence, to strike back, blow up trains and buses, and spend their lives spreading fear. ... Violence in response to violence can only lead to further violence. Jesus taught us that as the soldiers were dragging him away to his death when he said, “Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword.” Gandhi taught us that when he said, “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.” ... Violence cannot stop violence. We have to break the cycle of violence, renounce violence, start practicing creative active nonviolence on a level that the world has never seen, and reach out and embrace the world’s poor by meeting their every need. Then, we will win over the world, and no one will ever want to hurt a Westerner again. On that new day, we will sow the seeds of love and peace and discover what a world without terrorism, war, poverty, and fear is like. ... I do not understand our love of violence. If you want other people to be nonviolent, you first have to be nonviolent. If you want to remove the speck from someone else’s eye, you have to remove the two by four from your own head. If you want other nations to hold you in high regard, you first have to hold other nations in high regard, and treat every human being on the planet as a sister and brother. As someone once said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That is the answer to the nightmare of terrorism.  How do we stop terrorism? Renounce every trace of violence in your heart and your life. Adopt the wisdom and practice of active nonviolence, as Gandhi and Dr. King taught. Beg the God of peace for the gift of peace. Join your local peace and justice group. Stand up publicly for an end to war. Let your life be disrupted, and take a new, nonviolent risk for disarmament. Create new cells of active nonviolence. Embrace the religious roots of nonviolence. Study and teach the wisdom of nonviolence. Resist your local military and government violence. Stop business as usual, government as usual, media as usual, war as usual and demand peace, justice, and disarmament for the whole world, now. Announce the vision of a new nonviolent world, a disarmed world, a world without war, poverty, injustice or nuclear weapons. Explain how such a world is possible if we give our lives for it, demand it, insist on it, work for it, and begin to live it.” How To Stop Terrorism By Rev. John Dear

 

WE NEED TO COMBINE OUR VOICES

 

“In an age when, in the words of Frithjof Schuon, “the outward and readily exaggerated incompatibility of the different religions greatly discredits, in the minds of most of our contemporaries, all religion”,93 a “call to God” which is based on universal inclusivity rather than dogmatic exclusivity is much more likely to be heeded. The Quranic discourse explicitly refers to the fragility and illogicality of confessional or denominational exclusivity, and affirms truths of a universal nature, doing so, moreover, with an insistence and in a manner that is unparalleled among world scriptures. It is therefore uniquely situated, in intellectual terms, to assist in the resolution of the contemporary crisis precipitated by mutually exclusive religious claims. ... Wisdom is explicitly called for in the verse we have cited above; and wisdom, by definition, is not something that can be laid down in advance of all the concrete and unique situations in which wisdom needs to be applied, as if it were a formal rule or a blue-print. On the contrary, it is, on the one hand, a Divine bestowal, and on the other, a quality that can be developed and cultivated only through intellectual, moral, and spiritual effort. In the Quran, wisdom is described as a gift from God: “He giveth wisdom to whom He will; and he to whom wisdom is given hath been granted great good” (2:269). But it is also a quality which can be cultivated, acquired, or learned, and this is implied in the following verse, where the Prophet is described as one who teaches and imparts not just the formal message, but the wisdom required to understand and creatively apply that message: “He it is Who hath sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger of their own, to recite unto them His revelations and to make them grow [in purity], and to teach them the Scripture and wisdom” (62:2). ... One of the most important aspects of wisdom taught by the scripture of the Quran and the conduct of the Prophet is tolerance of those with belief-systems different from one’s own, a tolerance grounded in a consciousness of the Reality which transcends all systems of belief, one’s own included, but which is also mysteriously present in the depths of each human soul. Authentic dialogue emerges in the measure that this presence of God in all human beings is respected. For Muslims living at a time when the alternative to dialogue is not just diatribe but violent clash, the imperative of highlighting that which unites the different religions, of upholding and promoting the common spiritual patrimony of mankind, is of the utmost urgency. As we have seen, there is ample evidence in the Quranic text itself, and in the compelling commentaries on these verses by those most steeped in the spiritual tradition of Islam, to demonstrate that the Quran not only provides us with a universal vision of religion, and thus with the means to contemplate all revealed religions as “signs” (⹢t) of God, but also opens up paths of creative, constructive dialogue between the faithful of all the different religious communities, despite their divergent belief-systems. It provides us with the basis for dialogue and mutual enrichment on aspects of religious life and thought that go beyond the outward forms of belief, yielding fruit in the fertile fields of metaphysical insight, immutable values, contemplative inspiration, and spiritual realization.” The Metaphysics of Interfaith Dialogue, Reza Shah-Kazemi

We might consider acting upon one or more of the following important documents that have already been developed:  A Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic; the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights.

It would seem to me that the real issue is that TERRORISM is a problem no matter who carries it out, and that is a problem we all face and need to work towards solving.  Our voice needs to be louder - but it cannot be just a Muslim voice - it must be a combined voice of all people of faith who unite for the sake of peace and justice. 

Terrorism like any other criminal behavior, is the sole responsibility of those committing the acts, not of the religion or the people with which they happen to be associated.  However, since the terrorists are using religion as an excuse, all of us who hold our faiths dear become obligated to counter their false claims with the truth.

We need to be certain that the expression of justice and compassion is for all victims of violence - and that the same standards are applied to all.

We must expose the roots of violence and hatred and reject exclusivist ideologies that privilege one group over another.

 

WE NEED TO DIALOGUE


Jews, Muslims, and Christians agree that God is One - Creator of the Universe.  We have much in common and on which we agree - and much that we disagree about - and that causes us too often to look at each other with suspicion and mistrust.  Abraham - the friend of God - is spiritually the shared ancestor of half the people alive today - Jews, Christians and Muslims.  Abraham is a defining figure - our common patriarch, - a source of inspiration, - and sadly through much of our shared history a source of argument, bloodshed, persecution and suffering.  In the story of Abraham we can find justification for continued suspicion and mistrust, or we can find in Abraham the point of contact,  the cornerstone for a new relationship.

Abraham is discussed in the Torah, in the New Testament and in the Qur’an, but the stories often disagree even on basic points - we have what may be seen as competing traditions.  The story of Abraham offering his son to God is remembered on Rosh Hoshonah, at Easter and on Id al-Adha - one of the two holiest days of the year for Muslims.  Abraham was one man - but our varied understandings of the man and his story and the fact that each of us has maintained that Abraham is “ours alone” has led to tragic family fights on a grand scale - over the inheritance of Abraham

 

The TORAH tells us that Abrahams legacy is that through his descendants God will bless the nations of the world.

The NEW TESTAMENT tells us in John 8:39 that if we were Abraham’s children we would do the works of Abraham

The QUR’AN tells us in chapter 11:118 that if our Lord had so pleased, He would have made humanity one community.  And further in 2:147-148 that

“The truth is from your Lord, so do not be one of the doubters.  Each community has a direction to which it turns, so compete with one another in doing good works.  Wherever you may be, God will bring you all together, for God has power over all things.”

We have forgotten the legacy of Abraham - forgotten that to be blessed and to be a blessing we must be like Abraham and compete only in doing good and we have not been much of a blessing to the world.  From the time of Isaac and Ishmael until today we have fought over Abraham and his heritage.  Perhaps we can find a way through dialogue and building relationships to bring reconciliation - even Isaac and Ishmael reconciled and came together to bury Abraham.  Perhaps we - Abraham’s UNRULY children can do the same.

We are all witnesses to the faith of Abraham in our own communities - and as in a court of law - no two witnesses agree on all the details - we can agree to disagree.

Pope John Paul II visited Jerusalem in 2000 and left a prayer written on a piece of paper in a crack in the Western Wall:

“God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your name to the nations.  We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer.  And asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the covenant.”

If the children of Abraham would compete in doing good and struggling against injustice and misery we could truly be a blessing for this world - and regain our shared legacy from Abraham.

Let us pray to God to enlighten and guide us.

“We do not have to look far to see the need for interfaith dialogue.  Perhaps first we must look at our interfaith relations before we can even have dialogue. ... The modern world is pushing us out of our normal isolated and separated lives into contact with others who do not think as we do.  Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the religious realm.  The attack on the World Trade Center by people who claimed to be acting with a religious purpose has forced religion to the center of discussion.  ... However, religion usually is not in the news for the purpose of quiet discussion about God, but rather the background matter for political statements and corresponding actions. ... The whole world has to look at the religious thought and standards by which we act.  Self identity and nationalism are easily manipulated by political and religious leaders in order to move people in the directions they want.  The present situation is so excitable that it does not even need further agitation to cause problems. ...” Saying “Amen”, Rev. Emmett Barnes

and out of that dialogue, if God is willing, we can begin to work together in our common interest.  Dialogue has become a necessity.

“When we close our hearts to others, our eyes are closed to see the beauty of God in them. The message of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and all other religions is one of love and service to others. ... If God decides to care and love and feed even those who deny his existence, then who are we to deprive someone else of our love just because he is of different color or speaks a different language or is born in a different country or prays to the same God but in a different direction, using different words.  We must try to transcend the barriers among humans so that we break the barriers between humans and God. We must see ourselves in others and we must see God in each of us. We must love others in order to be loved by God, and we must enter into surrender peacefully, willingly and wholeheartedly.” We Must Love Others To Be Loved By God, Dr. Shahid Athar

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, has stated,

“Nothing has proved harder in civilization than seeing God or good or dignity in those unlike ourselves. There are surely many ways of arriving at that generosity of spirit, and each faith may need to find its own way. I propose that the truth at the heart of monotheism is that God is greater than religion, that God is only partially comprehended by any one faith?.What would such a faith be like? It would be like being secure in my own home and yet moved by the beauty of a foreign place knowing that while it is not my home, it is still part of the glory of the world that is ours. It would be knowing that we are sentences in the story of our people but that there are other stories, each written by God out of the letters of lives bound together in community. Those who are confident of their faith are not threatened but enlarged by the different faiths of others. In the midst of our multiple insecurities, we need now the confidence to recognize the irreducible, glorious dignity of difference.” Clash of Civilizations or Opportunity for Dialogue? David Smock

 

WE NEED TO GET REAL

 

“Reality is the only thing we have that can possibly nourish hope. Hope is not based on the ability to fabricate a better future; it is grounded in the ability to remember with new understanding an equally difficult past-either our own or someone else’s. The fact is that our memories are the seedbed of our hope. They are the only things we have that prove to us that whatever it was we ever before thought would crush us to the grave, would trample our spirits into perpetual dust, would fell us in our tracks, had actually been survived. And if that is true, then whatever we are wrestling with now can also be surmounted. ... Hope lies in the memory of God’s previous goodness to us in a world that is both bountiful and harsh. The God who created this world loves it and us in it, but at the price of our own effort, at the cost of our own craving for more of the vision, more of the depth, more of the truth of the life. The God who made this world has blessed it with good things, yes - but all of them take working at: coconuts need to be cracked, soil needs to be tilled, mountains need to be climbed, water needs to be conserved. God does not do this for us. God simply companions us as we go. God has given us in this unfinished world a glimpse of eternity and walks with us through here to there, giving us possibility, giving us hope. ... The proofs of eternal rebirth are everywhere. Spring comes every year. Dawn comes every morning. Love happens out of hate. Birth absorbs the pain of death. And people everywhere look to Nirvana, to enlightenment, to reincarnation, to resurrection in the hope of eternal renewal. To the Christian, both the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus we see as proof of God’s will for the world, and in the Paschal Mystery the demonstration of the cycle of struggle.” Hope Is a Choice, Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

And, in the process of “getting real” we need to focus on the only dimension that has a chance of helping us regain our equilibrium - the spiritual dimension.

WE NEED TO OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE SPIRITUAL SOLUTION


Somehow we need to find a way of coalescing our mutual desire to do better so that together we can give voice to our need to: bring light to our hearts instead of vengeance; pray instead of beating war drums, ad to send love into the world to fill it with healing, caring, and kindness, rather than the current anger that will only continue to increase the darkness and Godless, soulless actions.  If we were all to focus the enormous energy of our shared sorrow about our current predicament into building a better world, we could accomplish something .........  We keep making the same mistakes over and over, and one of the most dangerous of these mistakes has been to define the problem by its manifestations rather than its causes.  The root cause is a spiritual void.

“A movement toward a progressive politics of meaning has clearly begun. It is a movement that does not require a specific belief in God, much less a belief in the orthodox versions of the major religions. It does, however, rest upon the conviction that a satisfactory human life requires more than the accumulation of material goods, especially when those goods are held by a tiny minority of the human population. As Rabbi Lerner expressed it: “The deepest human desires - the desires for loving connection, for transcendent meaning to life, and for peace and justice, not just for ourselves but for others - are rooted in what we call a spiritual conception of the world.” This same notion is expressed very well in the Quranic verse: And the word of your Lord is fulfilled and perfected in Truth and Justice. [Surah Al An’am 6:115]A Review of the NSP Conference on Spiritual Activism, Shakh Kabir Helminski

Instead of a violent World War III,  I would hope to see a Spiritual battle, a battle for hearts and minds.  This would be the greatest jihad a spiritual war — the war within.  In this counter vision of war, the goals would be to see: compassion win the war over anger; forgiveness win the war over revenge; intelligence win the war over passive acceptance;  truth win the war over lies;  love win the war over hatred;  creativity win the war over continuing on a well worn and tired path of endless violence.  The only way this can happen is if there is a real coming together of our spiritual brothers and sisters across the globe from heart to heart and spirit to spirit and mind to mind to end the madness of fighting and create a different world of higher vibration, values, hopes and reality.

“What we need today is more positive models and less conflict-ridden ones. We need healing, justice and forgiveness, both globally and at home. We need to put forth restorative concepts of justice. Restorative justice aims at healing the victim, the family of the victim and the community at large. It requires, for example, reparation and participation. It does not focus only on the offender or on retribution. It is this kind of justice that our faiths advocate. (3) Unfortunately, we have fallen short of this kind of justice and consequently ended up with a world full of conflict. So, we need to change.” Islam and Global Conflict, Azizah al-Hibri

“Most people want to live in a different world, but most are very skeptical that such a world is possible. They have been so deeply indoctrinated into a depressive belief that no one else will ever respond to the vision of the good to which they themselves resonate, they have become so deeply committed to the alleged truth that everyone else is either too stupid or too evil to ever transcend the materialism and selfishness that governs this society, that they effectively remain cheerleaders for the very cynical realism that they simultaneously despise. It is this duality in people, the desire for spiritual transcendence and the despair about its possibility in the case of “the Other”, that presents the central challenge for a Politics of Meaning. Undermining that depressive resignation will take incredible levels of creativity, psychological sensitivity, spiritual awareness, and political courage.” Why America Needs a Spiritual Left, Rabbi Michael Lerner

In response, many of us are struggling to create new forms of community—renewing Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. to see each other and all life-forms as part of our community. The project of renewal means digesting some transformative aspects of Modernity (the equality of women and men, democracy, full respect for other life-giving cultures and traditions) and integrating them into the older traditions. The result will be, is already becoming, something new—yet bearing deep identity with each of the older traditions. The Dance of God in Our Theology and Action, Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Dr. Aslam Adullah’s words bear repeating “The most effective voice to control violence is the voice of forgiveness. It is a voice that can make a definite change in the lives of people if it is raised from the pulpits of religious institutions. The religious leadership must raise this voice if it truly wants to serve God.” as do Dr. Robert Crane’s words: “Our task is not merely to stop evil, which can’t be done, but to promote good, which can oversome it, if God is willing.”

WE NEED HEROES


We need heroes to lead the way. But, if we think about who are really our heroes and heroines, who are the people we would really like to trade places with. This may tell us something about ourselves. How many of our real heroes represent something worthwhile? ... We do give a sort of false honor to a few worthwhile individuals who obviously embody in their actions those qualities and beliefs we say we value. But it is an honor that doesn’t demand that we see them as role models for our own behavior. We see them as so far above and different from “normal” people that we don’t feel we need to try to be like them. This actually degrades and dishonors their purpose because a hero is meant to be an inspiration for us, an example of possibilities. The whole point is that they are normal people, no better or worse than any of us. When we see them as somehow innately superior, paranormal, as if there is a certain percentage of humanity who are born with a gene for heroism, we take away their heroism. After all, what would be heroic about doing what comes naturally. Heroism must be an effort, a struggle, an act of courage, of overcoming limitations, of “doing” in spite of these human limitations. ... In fact, if we are being really honest we would have to admit that if someone in our own family were to consider leading such a life or following their example, we would at the very least try to talk them out of their “idealism”. In normal life—the real world, the trait of idealism, the person of the idealist, have become the object of insults and suspicion. Idealism has come to be seen as the opposite of realism. We do like to have a few idealists around as token “good guys” to make us feel better about ourselves. But not too many of them and not demanding that we change. We are willing to support them in their personal sacrifice and efforts, even send money, as long as they are the ones making the sacrifices. But when they begin to demand that we change, they are almost certain to become martyrs. Can We Get Along, Sheila Musaji

Individual commitment, idealism, if you will, is a powerful force. We can make a difference. Individuals don’t have to be merely pawns. Most individuals may be merely carried along by the forces of history—but the forces that shape history are also the product of individuals. Whatever reforms are made, however our systems are redefined, whichever ideology will dominate and shape the future, whatever movements develop - will be started by individuals.

We may choose not to make a stand - to play it safe - but that choice at this moment in history. will only mean that we will be carried along with whatever movements and systems are now developed or redefined to fill the current vacuum. And, that vacuum will be filled. Because some individual or collection of individuals will step forward to guide and lead society in one direction or another from this crossroads. Whether or not that force will be for good or for evil depends on who steps forward and what they stand for.

If you think that this can’t apply to you because you are not important enough or rich enough or intelligent enough, or any other limitation or excuse you can come up with remember what Martin Luther King said:

“Everybody can be great Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart ful1 of grace. A soul generated by 1ove.”

Look inside yourself to see what it is that you do best, what is your God given talent. Then look outside yourself to see where that talent can best be put to use.

Our various paths have led us to the crossroads where we now stand and where we now have to face our future together. Whether or not you participate, or watch from the sidelines, you will be effected by the direction history moves from this crossroads.

WE NEED SOME PRACTICAL SPIRITUAL ACTIVISM

 

“We should begin now to make contacts, to join with others and to work together - to find positive solutions to injustices rather than to continue condemning the injustices that come from all sides in the present breakdown of civilization.” (Dr. Robert D. Crane)

We need to work together on some projects that can help to bring us through this crisis.

“The globalization of Spirit requires that we overcome the false dichotomy between changing our selves and changing societal structures. At times we may be inclined to say, “I need to work on my own head first, then later I’ll try to change society.” But this strategy can be the beginning of a slippery slope toward narcissistic self-absorption, just as the “I’ll change society first and then worry about inner life” strategy can be a slippery slope to the insensitivity and spiritual obtuseness of most contemporary political movements. Emancipatory Spirituality encourages a living synthesis of individual and social transformation. ... No amount of social change can replace attention to one’s inner life. The fruits of social change won’t last if they’re implemented by people who are out of touch with their own spiritual dimension—and the change won’t ever be achieved, because most people eventually drop out of social change movements before they’ve achieved their goals because they are so lacking in nourishment for the soul. At the same time, no amount of inner enlightenment can adequately nourish a spiritual life if one’s day is drenched in soul-destroying social realities. ... So where do we start? Both places—with spiritual practice in our own lives and with attempts to transform the world of work and other aspects of our political, economic and social institutions.” Spirituality, Rabbi Michael Lerner
“Because peace as both the absence of violence and the presence of justice for all humans is the necessary condition for the complete development of the full humanity of all humans, individually and communally, all individuals and communities should strive constantly to further the growth of peace on all levels, personal, interpersonal, local, regional, national and international, granting that:  a) the necessary basis of peace is justice for all concerned;  b) violence is to be vigorously avoided, being resorted to only when its absence would cause a greater evil;  c) when peace is ruptured, all efforts should be bent to its rapid restoration—on the necessary basis of justice for all.  At the same time, it should be recognized that peace, like liberty, is a positive value which should be constantly cultivated, and therefore all individuals and communities should make the necessary prior efforts not only to avoid its break-down but also to strengthen its steady development and growth.”  From a Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic

For example, putting together an INTERFAITH STATEMENT— a Declaration of Interdependence —  that suicide bombing as well as all other forms of terrorism are completely unlawful in ALL circumstances.  No matter what the provocation, terrorism is not the solution and no matter what supposed religious justification is offered, it is unacceptable.  There are transcendent religious values and they honor no exceptions to cover what are criminal acts, and all such criminal acts will be labeled what they are no matter who they are carried out by or where they originate.  Hirabah and terrorism require universal condemnation.

We need to declare our intolerance for all political violence - we cannot win a “war” on terrorism no matter how much the “experts” recommend more bombing -

“These experts perhaps mean well. They want to do something to make America safe, instead of giving sermons to evil perpetrators. But they ignore the laws of motion, especially Sir Isaac Newton’s law of reciprocal actions. The law states: Whenever one body exerts force upon a second body, the second body exerts an equal and opposite force upon the first body. In popular vernacular, this law is also known as “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Osama bin Laden has translated Newton’s law into his own words: “If you bomb our cities, we will bomb yours.” Morality, Terrorism and the Laws of Motion, By Liaquat Ali Khan

and to turn away from the current “solutions.”

“If your heart has turned away from something, eventually your face also will turn away. This existence is one unified field. Eventually, the body’s electromagnetic field will physicalize into a movement of muscles and limbs away from what is futile. When Musa, ‘alayhi-s-salam, came to the pharonic state and found the people taken in by despotism aided by magic, he could not accept it. He advocated instead the worship of the one and only Reality. He then moved away from the oppression, taking his people with him. The Prophet ‘Isa, ‘alayhi-s-salam, came to revive what Musa had brought, and he also turned away, revolting against the dominant values. ... Man wants longevity and has invested in cultural habits and traditions, which oppose the imposition of the prophetic message. The message is bound to be opposed. ... Revolution is an essential meaning of qalb. If, however, we do not leave the state of foolishness and indiscrimination, we will equate revolution with an outer havoc not based upon an inner reality. If the revolution is a real one, it will not cause outer havoc. The revolutions of the Prophets and the awliya (friends of Allah) were the most peaceful revolutions. Muhammad, salla-ilahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, did not wage war, he only defended himself as a last resort.” Qalaba: The Turning of the Heart, Shaikh Fadhlallah Haeri

INTERFAITH INITIATIVES

Interfaith initiatives will not be successful unless toleration and religious liberty are explicitly recognized as fundamental human rights.  We need to speak out against all expressions of religious bigotry whether by Muslims, Christians, or Jews.

Religious leaders must do more than condemn injustice and violence, they must stress in their sermons how we can turn moral indignation into a positive force to change the world without resorting to violence.

SOME GROUPS THAT ARE WORKING TOWARDS SUCH AN INTERFAITH EFFORT

CORDOBA INITIATIVE The Cordoba Initiative is a multi-faith organization whose objective is to heal the relationship between the Islamic World and America. Working through civil dialogue, policy initiatives, education, and cultural programs, the Initiative focuses on Thought, Action and Outcomes. ... For hundreds of years during the Middle Ages, Cordoba was the capital of Muslim Spain. During its “golden age” from the 8th to 12th centuries, the Cordoba Caliphate witnessed a great flowering of culture, art, and philosophical inquiry amid a remarkable climate of religious tolerance. Religious freedom, although not perfect, was sufficient that many Jewish and Christian intellectuals were attracted to Cordoba, where they lived, wrote and flourished side by side with their Muslim counterparts in a strikingly pluralistic society. The largest of Cordoba’s 70 libraries was believed to contain 400,000 volumes, making it vastly larger than anything else in Europe at the time. To find out more about the mission and programs and how you can get involved, go to the ASMA SOCIETY website

MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN INTERFAITH STATEMENT AGAINST WMD’S

NETWORK OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESSIVES (background and resources).  In an article about the stirring of a movement to create a Network of Spiritual Progressives, Van Jones says:

“Somewhere, in all of these stirrings, I see the seeds of a wisdom-based, Earth-honoring, pro-democracy movement—one that affirms and applauds religious and spiritual impulses, while opposing fundamentalism, chauvinism and theocracy. Over time, this kind of progressive movement has the potential to win—and win big—in the United States. To be honest: it is probably the only type of progressive movement that stands a chance in a country as religious as ours. ... Such a movement is within reach. But progressives must abandon the old pattern of reducing the Great Faiths to their worst elements, constituents and crimes—and then dismissing all other facts and features. It is not just stupid political strategy. At a moral level, it is a form of blindness and bigotry that is beneath all of us.”The Religious Left Fights Back, By Van Jones
“Rabbi Lerner invites American Muslims to join with him in creating the Network of Spiritual Progressives, an organization which seeks to challenge the misuse of God and the Bible by the Christian Right, the hostility toward religion and spirituality by some sections of the liberal and progressive culture of the Left, and the materialism and selfishness of consumer culture in America. 1,200 people attended the first of two founding conferences, and Rabbi Lerner wishes to increase the percentage of Muslim participation in the founding of this enterprise. For more information, please read the Core Vision and the plans for this organization at www.tikkun.org

Ramadan Meets Rosh Hashanah & Assisi, Oct 3, 2005 - In October of 2005, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holy month of Tishrei (which begins with Rosh Hashanah) will coincide. ... This confluence offers us an extraordinary moment for interweaving our celebrations in these three traditions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - the families of Abraham. ... We are tottering on the precipice of religious and civilizational war. GOD HAS GIVEN US A SPECIAL GIFT to help us step away from the cliff: THE GIFT OF TIME. Time to help us walk hand-in-hand, listening to the Spirit alongside each other.  For more information go to the Shalom Center website.

THE TENT OF ABRAHAM STATEMENT:  We are members of the families of Abraham - Muslims, Christians, Jews.  Our traditions teach us to have compassion, seek justice, and pursue peace for all peoples. We bear especially deep concern for the region where Abraham learned and taught, journeyed and flourished. Today that region is known as the greater Middle East - from Iraq, where Abraham grew up, to Israel and Palestine, where he sojourned.  Today our hearts are broken by the violence poured out upon the peoples of that region.  That violence has included the occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel and of Iraq by the United States; terrorist attacks on Americans, Israelis, Iraqis, and others by various Palestinian and Iraqi groups and by Al Qaeda; the torture of prisoners by several different police forces, military forces, and governments in the region. ... From our heartbreak at these destructive actions, we intend to open our hearts more fully to each other and to the suffering of all peoples.  In the name of the One God Whom we all serve and celebrate, we condemn all these forms of violence. To end the present wars and to take serious steps toward the peace that all our traditions demand of us, we call on governments and on the leaders of all religious and cultural communities to act.    We urge the US government to set a firm and speedy date, preferably no later than December 1, 2004, for completing the safe return home from Iraq of all Americans under military control or contract ? so that Hanukkah, Christmas, and Eid el Adha can actually be celebrated as festivals of peace. We urge the UN to work directly with Iraqi political groupings to transfer power in Iraq to an elected government.  We urge the UN, the US, the European Union, and Russia to convene a comprehensive peace conference through which the governments of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Iran, and all Arab states conclude a full diplomatic, economic, and cultural peace with Israel and Palestine, defined approximately on the 1967 boundaries, with small mutual adjustments.  We urge the international community to work out lawful and effective means to deal with the dangers of international terrorism, the spread of nuclear and similar weapons, and conflicts over the control of oil and water.  We ourselves will act to create transnational and interfaith networks of Jews, Christians, and Muslims who will covenant together -  *to insist that governments take these steps,  *to undertake whatever nonviolent actions are necessary to prevent more violence and achieve a just peace throughout the region, *and to grow grass-roots relationships that bind together those who have been enemies into a Compassionate Coalition.  According to tradition, Abraham kept his tent open in all four directions, the more easily to share his food and water with travelers from anywhere. In that spirit, we welcome all those who thirst and hunger for justice, peace, and dignity.”  Sister Joan Chittister, OSB; Rev. Bob Edgar, National Council of Churches; Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, Islamic Society of North America; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center—- and YOU? Tent of Abraham

Center for Global Ethics

Muslim Peace Fellowship

Center for Economic and Social Justice

Shalom Center

ISLAMIC DECLARATION OF PEACE: Selections from the Holy Qur’an  Selected and arranged by Kabir Helminski, translations by Muhammad Asad, Yusuf Ali and Kabir Helminski.

O mankind, truly We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Truly the most noble of you, in the sight of God, is the most God-conscious (49:13). For every community (of faith) We have appointed ways of worship, which they aught to observe. Hence, do not let those (who follow other ways) draw you into dispute on this score, but summon them to their Sustainer: for you are on the right way. And if they argue with you, say: God knows best what you are doing (22:67).

Truly those who believe, and the Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabaeans—whoever believes in God and the Last Day and performs virtuous deeds—surely their reward is with their Sustainer, and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve (2:62).

It was We who revealed the Torah; therein was guidance and light. By its standard the Jewish people have been judged by the Prophets who surrendered to God’s will, as well as by the Rabbis and the doctors of Law, for to them the protection of God’s book was entrusted: If any do fail to judge by what God has revealed (including the Torah), they are (no better than) unbelievers (5:44). We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew all of humanity: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of all of humanity (5:32). We ordained therein for them: “A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth and equivalence in harm done.” But if anyone by way of charity foregoes that retaliation, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by what God has revealed, they are wrongdoers (5:45).

And in their footsteps We sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: and therein was guidance and light and confirmation of the law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who are conscious of God (5:45-46). To Jesus, the son of Mary, We gave clear signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit (2:253).

O you who keep the faith! When you go abroad in the way of God, be clear and circumspect and say not to anyone who offers you a greeting of peace: “You are not a believer!” (4:94). To each community among you, We have prescribed a Law and a way of life. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but His plan is to test you in what He has given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you differ (5:48).

And do not argue with the followers of earlier revelations except in the most gentle manner (29:46). Goodness and Evil cannot be equal. Repel Evil with something better: then the one who hated you will become your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune. And when the Evil One incites discord, seek refuge in God. He is the One Who hears and knows all things (41:34). And the servants of the Infinitely Compassionate are those who walk on the earth in humility and when the ignorant accost them, they only reply “Peace!” (25:65).

Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clearly from error; whoever rejects evil and has faith in God has grasped the most trustworthy, unfailing handhold. And God hears and knows all things. God is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light (2:256-257).

And, I would add:

“But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in God.  Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower” Qur’an 8:61

In the absence of the voices of hope, moderation and forgiveness, the voices of division are left to howl for the blood of our children.  We need to speak out loudly and clearly and turn us away from the precipice.

I call on our Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders to come together, join with groups such as Rabbi Lerner’s Network of Spiritual Progressives, and work to make your voices heard not only in our local communities but in the greater community of man.

Cindy Sheehan is an example of what even one person can do to make a difference.

“There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress.” Occupied Territories, Howard Zinn

May God bless all o us and give us the strength we need.

Part I http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_spiritual_jihad_against_terrorism_part_i/
Part II http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_spiritual_jihad_against_terrorism_part_ii/
Part III http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_spiritual_jihad_against_terrorism_part_iii/
Part IV http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_spiritual_jihad_against_terrorism_part_iv/
Part V http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_spiritual_jihad_against_terrorism_part_v/

 


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