Have you ever thought why do people living peacefully as brothers under the same flag for centuries suddenly start tearing at each other’s throats? There are 50 different states right now on the lands of the former Ottoman Empire and literally every single one of them have been shaken with strife and conflict for decades since they split from the Ottomans. Jewish people and Palestinians living peacefully for ages in the lands of Palestine under the rule of the Ottomans are now killing one another. Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Romania, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Vojvodina, Albania and many others in Caucasia, Middle East and Africa: All these countries were the cradle of welfare and peace at the time they were governed by the Ottomans and the safety of all their citizens was ensured by a relative handful of soldiers. Surely it was not the number of these soldiers or their politics that kept all those people safe and secure. Faith, love, understanding and clemency were the key for their unity.
There are also other examples from all over the world, even more recent ones. Rohingya Muslims, for instance, used to live peacefully side by side with Buddhists in Myanmar not long ago. However now when we look at Sittwe, the capital city of Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, we see a completely different picture.
Currently Buddhists living in Sittwe are leading a very comfortable life; they are able to go wherever they want whenever they like and marry whomever they wish whenever they desire and perform their religious services in their Buddhist temples as they see fit; the lives of the Rohingya people living not far away is a completely different story. They are living in a part of the city divided with wires. They are living in camps, much like concentration camps built for internally displaced Rohingya. Within the country there are 134 official ethnicities but their existence is not even recognized. They are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, as attested to by UN officials. These people are not allowed to leave those camps; they are not allowed to marry unless they are given special permits. They are unemployed and have no income. They are simply struggling to survive. They only have the rations given to them by the World Food Program. They are stateless. They are regarded as “non-existent” by the Myanmar government and resented by the Buddhist majority of the country. The surprising part is that these people used to live together in peace not long ago.
One cannot help but wonder what is it that makes them at each other’s throats now. Actually God tells us what it is in the Qur’an.
“When those unbelievers put chauvinism (fanatical rage), the chauvinism of the time of ignorance into their hearts…” (Surat Al-Fath-26)
One might love the family, the tribe or the nation he belongs to; that is, to a certain extent, acceptable and natural. However turning this feeling into an illegitimate, chauvinistic obsession and subsequently developing feelings of unjustifiable hostility towards the people of other nations or tribes is completely unnatural and destructive. This destructive feeling leads one to look out for only the interests of his own people and violating the rights of others, to seize their lands and their wealth simply because they belong to other races or other ethnic groups or other beliefs is the scourge that has visited such calamities on the people of the world. When you look into the Rohingya and Buddhist population of Myanmar, we can easily recognize this pattern.
Islam brings about peace and justice to the world. That is because God commands Muslims to be upholders of justice and to bear witness for God alone, even against themselves or their parents and relatives. (Surat An-Nisa; 135) Buddhism places great emphasis on peace and a peaceful way of living. Even though the beliefs of these two separate groups in Myanmar command peace, what turns them into players of these conflicts is the fanatical rage and chauvinistic obsessions of the time of ignorance.
This chauvinistic, fanatical obsession disrupts the “sensible, right-minded” state of mind and steers people into a raging aggression towards each other simply because they have different languages, different faiths, different tribes or social values, or even something as trivial as a difference in the color of the skin. The events might appear to be inflamed by an alleged offense committed by a member of one community and the reaction of the other party in response, as what happened in Myanmar, but at the root of it lies this fanatical chauvinistic rage.
God described this “fanatical rage” 1,400 years ago in the Qu’ran. Because of that “fanatical rage” there are people in Africa who strangle others to death merely because they belong to a different tribe. In the Western world, there are political parties and organizations whose sole purpose is to foster hatred against Africans, Jews, Romans, Turks and other minorities, even to the extent of making them targets of terrorist assaults. There are many countries that exploit the matter of a simple border dispute as an excuse to carry out open acts of aggression. To satisfy their belligerent tendencies, they plunge their countries into war, persisting stubbornly in their aggression for years, casting not only the citizens of the opposing country, but even their own people, into abject misery. Among these deluded fools are also they who instigated the two greatest calamities of the Twentieth Century: the First and Second World Wars. And now these chauvinistic obsessions cause the conflicts we see almost in every corner of the world, including Myanmar.
In the search to a solution for this great affliction on humanity, what should always be kept in mind is that violence cannot be solved through violence. Unjust treatment of one party cannot be corrected or avenged with aggression or by responding in kind; only by educating people and teaching love we can overcome this scourge on humanity. We must teach love to those who want hatred. We must overcome all discrimination by showing people that focusing on commonalities rather than differences is the only path that will lead us to happiness and peace. People must be taught that violence stems from a philosophy that distances them from humane feelings; from faith, conscience, love, art, beauty. Policies of love and raising awareness will eradicate lovelessness and violence once and for all.
As we’ve seen in the example of the Ottomans, when the moral values of Islam prevail, when people focus on what they share in common rather than on how they differ, when people learn to love each other, it becomes possible for people to cherish their differences and live alongside of each other as brothers with love and affection.2014-08-11 16:39:10