By Qaisar Sultan
What causes violence on this earth? Is it the survival of the fittest in the animal kingdom, or recognition in human societies that makes the killings necessary? The recognition comes through power; and man has to be more powerful than others. The egotistical and sometimes pragmatic nature of things is such that we do require some power over others. The design of nature is that the big fish has to eat the small fish; and the predator has to kill the pray to survive. So there may be a purpose in violence itself? Then were wars necessary? The self-defense was deemed a requisite if cultures were to preserve its ways and norms. There were religious obligation to defend God and gods. Socrates had to be poisoned as he was charged of corrupting the minds of youth against what their gods had prescribed. The first historical tale, Iliad, is full of “heroic violence”; their gods were so proud of the killings in the name of valor and courage that Achilles and Hector were considered human gods. The violent heroes were prophets to gods whose valor were glorified, praised and worshipped. The first Biblical narration of Cain killing Abel was described to find the moral underpinning of human race. There were two main motives in the first violent killing; woman and possession. Cain did not like the idea of a more beautiful sister to be married to Abel; and after the murder, he yelled, “I am free to take all of his possessions, all of his flocks fell unto my hands”. Then he cried for the rest of his life with the feelings of guilt of committed violence. There is another explanation of the murder of Abel that Cain could not give animal sacrifice as he was a farmer and his brother was a herder. There seems to be a sense of injustice that propels to anger; and anger transforms to violence; that something ought to belong to someone and does not. Two things enter into mind; one is the envy and the other is the sense of injustice.
I like to focus on unnecessary violence. The problem is that I have to figure out what is necessary violence? Or are there any circumstances that require violence? Does self-defense demand violence to stop others to commit violence? Does passivity in the matters of aggression resolve the undue conflict? The wars of nations fall into this argument. Based on the situation of each nation, the decision of going to war has to be considered for the welfare and the security. We can go on and argue about the necessity of a war that has caused so many deaths. There is an important issue that has to be addressed, the injustice. Most of the time, an individual or group of people feels that something wrong was done to them; something that they deserve was not given to them- That could be only a perception of injustice or a reality. The violence is a sociological and political phenomenon in human societies. The cultural norms based on religion, education, prevalence of some behaviors, such as use of drugs and alcohol, idea of honor, and sense of belonging to a group (religious, tribal or ethnic) contribute to violence. The temperament is something that is being developed at an early age in an environment within a family, friends, school and cultures. If a child was violated by parents, friends or teachers, or taught violence by examples and faith, chances are that the child would be violent in his adult life.
I like to deal with and limit myself to the violence in the name of religion. There is propaganda that Islam teaches violence. This proposition is far from truth. One can easily blame the Christianity for violence of past and present; the Nazis were Christians, so were crusaders. One can turn around that the only Jewish state has caused so much violence against Palestinians. The Hindus have killed Christians and Muslims. There is no doubt that the Muslims have resorted to violence. On the other hand, if we look at a non-religious state such as Soviet Union, the atheist had no qualm about killing millions; Stalin communist regime killed innocent people. The socialist regime of Mao was responsible for killing of twenty five millions during the Cultural Revolution. The argument was brought up so that we can talk about what some people consider necessary violence and unnecessary violence based on religion; that somehow jihad is necessary for anyone that they go up against. The problem is that some fanatical Muslims use Islam to find the necessity of declaring war against the infidel and Muslims who disagree with them. Their personal agenda has become Jihad and war for Islamic cause. We believe and promote that Islam spread all over the world through great work of saints and sense of justice prevalent in Islamic states. The Islamic states did not make it obligatory to accept Islam for all the citizens. It was the other way around for Christian Spain; Isabella and Ferdinand, Catholic monarchs, forced Muslims and Jews to convert to Christianity- those who were overtly posed as Christians were treated with torture and death. It had to be the Christianity as a state religion; they called the religion as the way of life, nothing less. The religion provides passion and obsession to act upon violent emotions. It is easier to manipulate the masses by exploiting the need for fulfilling their religious side. The absolutist nature of conflict makes all the difference between the reason given for the necessities of war between secular and the religious side. For example, the secular state would define the conflict of land creating a conflict that may end up in violence in a political argument. A religious state or a group wishes to define the conflict based on religion, giving a specific religion a bad name. Some religious zealots go as far as resorting to violence by quoting or suggesting that is what God tell us to do, meaning to kill another human being. There are grave consequences of inexorable interpretation of an intricate religious view that demands the lives of human beings. We find in the course of history of religions in different cultures and countries when they lived in peace without resorting to violence with other religions; and that was the case of classical Muslim states. One common cause of violence could be to defend the honor, possession and land; both secular and religious views would coincide to go to war to defend the above. There is always a possibility to resolve the conflict leading to violence in an amicable way. Islam teaches peace and resolution of conflict in peaceful manner. The Muslims should support non-violence. The extreme and narrow view of our religion is dangerous for the Muslims and gives a bad name to Islam.