Jihad and the Left Hand of God
Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
334Trip End Ongoing
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Why are these beards important? The Beards of Abraham are the same beards that the Hasidic Jews wear. As Abraham is considered the father of all the "People of the Book," he is important to Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike.
And God destroyed the people of Pharoah, who did not listen to Moses and His message.
And God flooded the earth, saving only those Noah brought in his ark.
And the Bible says when "you defeat them, you shall doom them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy."
"Tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, chop down their sacred poles, and destroy their idols by fire" (Deuteronomy 7:5).
Anyone who is found will be thrust through, and anyone who is captured will fall by the sword. Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished (Isaiah 13:15-16).
I didn't stay six more days, but I do think that the Abrahamic religions have violent aspects to them, as does Hinduism in some forms "Fight O Arjuna" (Bhavagad Gita).
"What about an eye for an eye," I asked Javid. "But Muhammad forgave people. The Koran says that if someone does a crime against you, you are entitled to punish that person, but it is better to forgive that person, as Muhammad did."
So where did the divisions occur in the Abrahamic religions? As Abraham's family tree grew, divisions naturally occurred because of language and culture and hair color, and people naturally wanted to say that they were right, that God was on their side and that the others were wrong. The Jews then called Jesus a false prophet. And the Christians called the Jews unbelievers. At its extreme, this led to the Holocaust.
And in the Koran, the Jews and Christians are those who went astray because they changed the original meanings of the Torah and Gospels, to suit the needs of priests and rabbis (and perhaps the politicians).
According to the Koran, the Christians misinterpreted and changed the holy texts to create the idea of a Trinity, of a Son of God, a Saviour, a personal God who could forgive them for their original sin and who could be worshipped in human form. And the Christians were considered polytheists and idolaters, no different from Tereh, in these ways.
Both Christians and Jews on the other hand, believe in their versions of the stories in the Torah and Gospels and don't believe that Muhammad is the prophet of God and the Koran was not to be trusted.
"The Jews want to destroy us," said Javid, as he was weighing his rope for a customer. I told him that was not the case, though some might want Islam not to exist. At this point, all religions were calling each other wrong and jihad against each other was the result, all of whom could justify jihad because their interpretation was right: "Your verses are satanic." "Christ is false!"
At night, after the muezzins called the sunset call to prayer, I walked downtown to the bazaar where kababs, cold pomegranite juice, fruits, and more were sold on the streets. There I stayed with the locals, eating their fast-breaking meal. One street was completely blocked by one hundred men, prostrating to Mecca, as there was no room in the mosque.
Since the fighting between the Abrahamic faiths occurred as soon as they were founded, in turn, there has been very little respite, with the Crusades, the Muslim expansion into Europe, and so on. Each side is following Abraham's blind faith and jihad examples, fighting for their cause, their land, their people. What one side remembers, the other side remembers something else. Muslims remember well--one man said--the genocide in Spain (when the Christians drove the Moors from Spain). Finding any trace of this genocide in Western texts, however, is difficult. Did it occur? Whose history is this anyway?
So how did we get to today, with Osama Bin Laden and all? The majority here believe strongly that the Great Powers are responsible. Back during the Great Game, when the Durand Line was created, Britain and Russia were vying for territory and Afghanistan was the last piece of the chessboard. When Britain left, America filled the vacuum, and when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the Afghanis needed to wage jihad: "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for Allah does not love transgressors" (2:190).
After the war with the USSR was over and that superpower collapsed, there was a vacuum, which the Taliban filled in Afghanistan. Soon thereafter, Iraq invaded Kuwait and the US entered that fray, building military bases in Saudi Arabia, the home of the holiest city Mecca.
"And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out, for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter" (2:191).
This was one of Osama bin Ladin's reasons for declaring jihad on America, but only one of them, I believe, as the materialism and liberalism of the West were spreading sin throughout the lands: consumption, greed, concentrated power, corporations, world trade, the military-industrial complex, gluttony, pornography, drug and alcohol abuse, illicit sex...the works of Satan, the Great Satan.
In Osama's edict against America he specifically quotes 2:190 above and the first half of 2:193 in the Koran: "And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and let there prevail justice and faith in Allah" (2:193). Thus, until the US military leaves Iraq, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia and until there is peace in Palestine and Lebanon, the jihad will continue. He neglects to mention the second half of the verse, however: "...but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression." (2:193). He also neglects to follow the advice of Muhammad: to forgive and to have forebearance is better. Without either side budging, the jihad will continue. So who will step up to the plate: will Osama bin Laden be like Muhammad and have forebearance and forgiveness or will America decide to pull out of Muslim countries or neither?
On top of all this, Russia is funding terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to militant newspapers in Karachi. Iranian Shi'a groups are funding the Shi'as and Saudi Arabi is encouraging fundamentalism in Sunnis in Pakistan as well as elsewhere. Now this fundamentalism means that even if you are a Muslim, another sect can declare jihad on you. Still, I have many questions.
Another man told me of a local leader who was just murdered, an elder man with a long white beard, he described. On the next day, in the paper, the title said "Mindless Violence: Spiral Descent Into Lawlessness." The leader of Jui-F Maulana Hasan Jan called for the end between infighting of sectarian groups yet was relatively non controversial, the paper read. But he issued a fatwa against the recent suicide attacks, prompting his murder: "the terrorists have neither a religion nor humanity," the paper lamented. At the same time, militants attempted to destroy another of the world's large Buddha statues in Uddiyana--the Swat Valley--the birthplace of Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to Tibet.
I asked people about Osama bin Laden. One man said that he "lives in the White House." He didn't specify which room. "He's not here (in Pakistan)," another said, as if it were obvious. "The 9/11 attack was by the Jews," said another, meaning that they would use that event to blame Muslims. Osama bin Laden wants to re-establish the caliphate to unify Islam, and many here in Peshawar, I think, support that. Many others would also say that he is not the person to accomplish this, because the caliphate has typically been moderate. Also, no historical caliphate has encompassed the fractured Islamic world, given sectarianism, and one man called it "nonsense."
Both these hands will always be present, because we were created in the image of God with both His hands. But we can transcend them and the key here, I think, is with the Sufis and in the heart of Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban, but also with all of us and what we do--the Greater Jihad that must occur from within.