COMMON GROUND: Islam & Violence; Refuting the Common Narrative

Posted: March 2, 2014 in Articles, Common Ground
Tags: , , , , , ,

photo by yavorskiy_photo

photo by yavorskiy_photo

by Fiona Lovatt

“We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person –unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land –it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”
—-Cf. Qur’an 5:32

It has been suggested that I write about the connection between Islam and violence. This is like being asked to write about the link between pornography and Christianity, where one could at least quote the passages of the Bible that deal with prostitutes and unequivocally prove that Jesus, peace and blessings be upon Him, socialised with women in that profession.
It is like being asked to expose the butterfly in the Amazon; who flapped his wings and re-ordered the entire meteorological pattern of the planet in chaos theory.
It is a link as tenuous as suggesting that Tony Blair has any credentials as a peacemaker, a man who could have made peace when he was in charge of a nation hosting an arms fair on 9th September, 2001, and didn’t even cancel any of those orders or tax breaks.

The dominant narrative is freely available almost anywhere you look. Television streams it in a continuous loop, fanatical haters repeat it, Facebook is awash with it. Yet, in the silence, in between the visions of carnage, we find that there are about 2 billion Muslims in the world and many more in their graves who have not lived violent lives. If their religion (and we know they are passionate about their religion) dictated violence then we could rightly expect violence from more of them. We could expect that their moral bankruptcy would ensure no one wanted to trade with them, marry them, join them, live with them. We could expect the annual hajj to be a scene of debauchery at least equal to a soccer world cup. We’d expect far more aggression so that instead of so many of them tolerating oppression in their own lands that they would have taken on the role of oppressors with huge munitions factories, massive military forces, and some serious land grabbing. Wouldn’t they manage more than one international television channel and produce movies of hate and carnage, fill childhoods with games and toys to desensitise children and train them in killing and premature sexuality (for the denigration of women surely goes hand in hand with the killing of sensitive, compassionate, humane hearts)?

We are meant to believe that there is a link between Islam and violence.
Let us translate “Islam” and use the English words “peace”.
What is the link between peace and violence? Peace is not just the absence of violence but the presence of justice, security, mercy and dignity.

Indeed, in reading the books of the people of peace, this is the message. The whole of their legal system is built on six principles or rights: the right to life, to family, to knowledge and education, to property, to conscience and freedom of thought, and to dignity. These rights are so deeply a part of the religion of peace that they extend to plants, animals and the earth itself.

Those who wish to pervert this rational and life-affirming institution fall in to two groups: the terrorists who are a threat to us all in their blood-lust and ignorance, and those who affirm their ignorance by repeating that Islam is a violent religion. The dominant narrative affirms, almost daily, what the terrorists say about themselves.
We should all start correcting them by repeating quotes that will correct them from the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammed, Peace Be Upon Him. To kill one person is like killing the whole of mankind. The ink of the scholars is more beloved to God than the blood of the martyrs.
And for the love of God and Peace, let us make sure we are not among their enabling accomplices. Let the rest of us stand in unity, not just as the opposite of violence but as operatives of peace, security, knowledge and mercy.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

  1. Ezeamalukwuo says:

    Very interesting writeup Lady Fiona you wrote some of the things I wish to say as regards Islam and Violence…I feel that Islam is a victim of some powerful political intrigues…as christianity was in the dark and middle ages. You tried in your assessment of the issue and you gave some pointers as regards the Peaceful nature of Islam…But

    Yes..Though the ideas of establishing Islam which you gave as Peace and the other 5 principles is ideal, practical Islam and Islamic countries & communities today are far away from peace and those 5 principles. Total exoneration of the teachings of islam from this is liken to a christian denying the dark history of the church in the dark and middle ages..or denying that the old testament is a bit cruel and high handed. No, islamic text has some passages that link towards violence…like the one which reads “lay in wait for the infidel and slaughter them anywhere you see them”…you can not also deny that the spread of islam was hardly peaceful…in Northern Africa it was done by the Arabs who rose up in the 11 century to stamp out christianity in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Northern Sudan, Palestine, Turkey and the middle east in general. This process of propagating islam was through war…death and blood…it wasn’t through peaceful process. The advent of Islam in Northern Nigeria in the 19th century was also through War, Conquest of Northern Nigeria by Usman Dan Fodio…he conquered the North and made his religion the official religion. We see this in Iraq (Islamic republic of Iraq), we see this in Iran (Islamic republic of Iran)…a non muslim can not enter Mecca…nor can a non-muslim make use of the name “Allah” in Indonesia even though that name is the only name known to all the tribes of Indonesia for God…Today people are running away from the islamic nations in mass into the western nation where they can easily and (almost) freely practise islam in peace..and their main reason is that there is no peace, freedom or justice in the islamic countries. The empowerment of Women are the lowest in islamic nations especially in Saudi Arabia (the seat of Islam) where women are not allowed to drive. Sharia law which is the law stated in the Koran is very Draconic for this era, they say God’s law does not change but Sharia law has to be changed…imagine stoning someone for committing adultery or beheading a man for stealing…can you Lady Fiona in all honesty live in such a community….the Boko haram situation in the North was well watered by the so many religious (islamic) riots done in the North during Obasanjo’s regime..where muslims rioted killing christians and southerners and burning their properties because someone in Denmark drew a cartoon picture of Muhammed, or the riot in Kaduna during miss world pagent because This Day magazine made a comment which stated that even Prophet Muhammed would not be able to resist these women as a result of their physical beauty or the one in Jos where a Christian is said to have used the Quran for Toilet tissue…these riots and many others where not condemned by the Muslim populations or scholars in Nigeria because it was targeted on Christians and Southerners but when it started hitting Muslims as well everyone started talking about it.

    Yes, the west has a hand in the radicalisation of Islam (with respect to Muhajineds of Afghanistan) and co but totally exonerating Islamic teachings is not going to sell…a lot of those 2 billion muslims you talked about are too silent about the happenings around them. It is an open secret that Islam is the most intorelant of all religions right now (maybe theoritical it is not, but practically it is) and I feel that you should speak up against the ills of islam and also urge muslims to examine themselves to understand why most terrorists are muslims…I believe that if and when they do…the common narative linking islam and violence would be effectively reduced.

    • echebi says:

      Now this is what I call an indept, objevtive critique. Well written Ezeamulukwuo. A wise man once wrote that, ” the hottest part in hell is reserved for those who keep mum when things are going wrong”. I encourage the 2 billion peaceful Muslims to give that a thought.

  2. Fiona says:

    The title I gave this blog has been changed.
    It is worth getting some perspective on the violence and harm being done in the world.
    Here, for example, are places that are truly violent, most of them are nations with a Roman Catholic majority but since Ireland sorted out its sectarian violence the world’s cameras have turned to another target.
    My blog was neither a refutation nor an exoneration. I am grateful that the dominant narrative is encapsulated in the first comment for it provides the standard summary and the usual out-of-context verse that fuels terrorism, illustrating my point that there are two parties who promote the idea of Islam being inherently violent (the hit squads and the narrators of the dominant narrative), and that Islam is the greatest danger to life as we know it.
    Long may our dialogue continue.
    In future I won’t accept suggestions for a topic. I have other things to write about and a blog is a poor substitute for a real education.

    • Fiona says:

      There are just so many things going on in the world that aren’t being done by adherents of Islam. As far as I know there has never been a nuclear “accident” caused by Muslims.
      The 300 tons of radio active water, leaking into the Pacific each day from Fukushima is a man made disaster of global proportions. It would be worth every consumer of nuclear-generated electricity to consider how complicit they are and make their apology. Let them speak out in the loudest of voice to end the terror.

      • Fiona says:
        Death by Walmart?
        Small towns all over Amercia dying economically and millions of workers across the world who work in sweat shops, employees on such low wages that the tax payers have to feed them. It would be good to give some of that a thought.

        • Ezeamalukwuo says:

          Lady Fiona, you should know by now that I deeply respect any view of yours…I may argue against it but I still respect it. Writing on this topic is very good, it’s very important that we hear from the side of good muslims as well. I am not a party to the half-story or one-sided story. I prefer to hear from both sides, as this will help me to come to an unbiased conclusion.
          I like your write up, believe me, I do agree with most of it…one of my role models is Malcolm X (a christian turned Muslim) and I even wrote a piece about Saladin (a man equal in word and work sincere). Yes, I agree with most but not all…I feel that Islam is not totally peaceful; sharia is highly archiac and draconic…dehumanising to women and to minority’s oppinion and good muslims like you should speak up about it.
          Indeed there is far more important problem than islam-violence-terrorism…problems of nuclear weapon and nuclear war, destruction of the family structure in the west, global warming, food security and co.
          Most of the world problems are caused by the west if you ask me…nations that are formerly christian…it is sad but truth. I as a christian and a catholic know well the bloody history of the church, the crusade and the spanish inquisition…the reformation and the counter-reformation…yes I do..and I still think that Christ’s teaching of Love and all of its attributes are the way forward for us all…yes because I am a christian (I know as a muslim you believe the that Islam is the way)…but I will never deny that the church did much more harm to Europe and the world…and I pray you do not do the same as regards Islam…let the story be balanced

          Peace be unto you.

  3. Anene Francis says:

    I sense tempers rising here so I’ll drop some of the things I wanted to say (for now). I have made known my mind on the issue in similar discussions severally.

    I still believe that Islam is NOT a religion of violence. Although from observing present realities, ‘many’ Moslems are easily ‘manipulated’ into use of violence. But hay, all religions (and almost all similar groups) have bad egg soiling the name of the whole. Islam is not to be blame for the violence attributed to it.
    Two key processes are required to expunge the false generalization:
    #1, enlighten the ignorant. And who can do this better than those from within?, true Moslems themselves that wield the unadulterated teachings of the religion, and who suffer the dirrect sting of the falsehood… That is what you did here dear Lady Fiona and I commend you for that (lets excuse the minor bias undertone). Do not be offended or discouraged if your effort did not yield as much fruit as you intended. Believe me, it yielded fruit (or will, at least). Just an appeal to reconsider the decision you took on occasion of being called upon for a similar topic.
    #2, Setting the bad eggs aright from within. The first two comments majorly fall here. Infact this is the more important one, though they both should go hand in hand. Poeple mostly judge by what they see than what they hear. Individually and collectively, Moslem faithfuls should condemn in strong terms the use of violence ‘in the name of their religion’. Turning a blind eye when the violence’s course yield us some ‘benefits’ (like getting new converts or settling a score with perceived ‘enemies’) is same as indiectly promoting the course. Of course a lot have been and is being done by the Moslem comminity in checking this but the sensitization need to be stepped up and continued unabated. It seems many Islamic teachings are easily misinterpreted (I am yet to get confirmation on this). Terrorists use this as a tool so also do the selfish political class. As you said, we all should join in the correcting… We all are at the receiving end of the fallout. The efforts of religious heads and those that command much respect within the religious body are most needed in addressing this.

    * There is no denying that the world is plagued with several forms of injustice directed at different groups of people and you may be right for referring to them as a form of terror. They all also need addressing as do the topic of discuss… I’ll add, violence and terror executed ‘in the name of a religion or group’, intentionly or misguided, need that religion or group as the main agent of correction.
    The intention of religion is not division. I advocate for tolerance. Shalom

    Very good write up by the way. Keep up the Good work ma.

  4. Fiona says:

    I cannot speak against principles that uphold life, the rights to property, conscience, education, family and dignity. I have no duty to do so.
    The teachings of Christ ( peace and blessings be upon Him) inform my life and the life of all Muslims. It is incumbent upon all Muslims to love him. And His blessed mother. You will note Muslim women model their dress upon hers rather than the catwalks of Europe or stars of the stage and screen.

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      He smiles…okay Lady Fiona, its all good. I understand your stance…its really all gOod. There are lots of good muslims out there…a lot. And the actions of a few vocal but bad ones should not be used to summarise the rest of the good ones. I do understand really. Thanks for writing this, it’s a very interesting writeup Lady Fiona.

  5. timnwaobilo says:

    nothing left to say.

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