Thursday, May 15, 2014

Criminals hiding behind religion

An obscure gang of hoodlums has made world headlines by kidnapping over 300 girls, often by raiding schools.  Boko Haram claims to be following Islam, but are they really?  Most Muslims condemn these actions as against their understanding of Islam as a religion of peace.  The violence perpetrated by Boko Haram is so perverse that even Al Quaeda has distanced itself from them.

“Boko Haram” loosely means “western education is sinful”.  Boko Haram, like many other groups with a rigid agenda, is full of contradictions.  First, if western education is sinful, why are they using weapons, trucks, cars, motorcycles, and now video cameras?  These are all products of western education.  Second, they use obscure passages of sacred texts and completely miss the larger message, that of all major religions, be kind to others.  Kidnapping and massacres are not being kind to others.

Boko Haram doesn’t want girls to be educated, but it conveniently ignores all the Muslim countries with a large percentage of educated women, even countries with a conservative Islam.

Benazir Bhutto was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Afghanistan, where the Taliban keeps trying to overthrow the government because it is not “Islamic” enough, reserves 20 percent of the seats in Parliament for women.

Iran, with its hodgepodge of secular and religious rule, a few years ago had more women in its universities than men.  It also had a hodgepodge of rules varying from university to university including gender-specific restrictions.  Women can’t take computer science and men can’t take Persian/Arabic language!

Unfortunately, hate of others is not limited to Islam.

"Muslims killed my baby!  I want to kill Muslims!”  This was said by a character in the film “Ghandi” with Ben Kingsley.  How could each and every Muslim be responsible for these stupid killings?

Muslims were killed in Guwahati, Assam, India, in sectarian violence.  Sunnis kill Shia, Shia kill Sunnis.  Boko Haram blows up mosques because their leaders don’t follow its dictates.

Ahab and his Canaanite wife, Jezebel, killed the priests of Jehovah.  Then Elijah killed the priests of Ba’al.

Crusade after Crusade marched, with the blessings or incitements by Popes,  to the Holy Land to rescue it from Muslims.

Torquemada,  Grand Inquisitor of Spain, had many tortured to get them to recant heresy.  He was a “moderate”; he “moderated” the use of torture of previous inquisitions.

Jean Calvin brought charges of heresy against Michael Servetus; he suggested Servetus be beheaded.  The government of Geneva decided he should be burnt at the stake.

The Ku Klux Klan, with crosses on their robes, killed blacks for the slightest suspicion of unapproved conduct, and it killed whites who opposed their actions.

In Northern Ireland Catholics killed Protestants and Protestants killed Catholics.  And sometimes they killed their “own” because the latter wanted reconciliation and peace.

Qasim Rashid wrote “What Prophet Muhammad would say to Boko Haram”, Fox News, May 8, 2014.  It is a good exposition of the importance of learning in Islam.  He quotes Muhammad, “Seek knowledge even if you must travel to China” and “The search of knowledge is an obligation laid upon every Muslim.”  Rashid writes, “Fatimah was a Muslim, an African, a female, and literally changed world history through education. Her revolutionary University of al-Qarawiyyin [founded 859] is now the world’s oldest university.”

The comments were a predictable mix of bad taste and prejudice.  A reader “muhammad” summed it up with “I don’t see any difference between Boko Haram and many commenters in this forum.”  The response to his post proved his point.

The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, claims he communicates with God.  How many times have we heard a similar claim by those who hate others?

If God is so powerful, why does He use so many different intermediaries to make His will known?  Few of these intermediaries even agree on what God revealed to them.  Too many of these “intermediaries” have their own agendas.  If I were to believe all that God said directly to these “intermediaries”, I could only conclude that God was schizophrenic.  I doubt that, whatever God is.

I think it is more that certain people are telling God what He should believe and then forcing other people to believe as they do.

Elijah was in a power struggle with Ahab and Jezebel.  Supposedly he challenged the priest of Ba’al to a sacrifice contest.  Would Ba’al ignite the offering of his priests or would Jehovah ignite the offering of Elijah?  Poof!  Jehovah ignited Elijah’s water-soaked offering.  Then Elijah had the people chase down and kill the priests of Ba’al.  Why did Elijah do that?  Did Jehovah use up his bolts of lightning?  Wouldn’t He have an infinite supply of lightning to zap each and every one of these non-believers?

Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church claimed that “God hates fags”.  Hm!  If God hates fags so much, shouldn’t He just boom it out for all to hear?

We can say one thing with certainty about those who claim to speak for God.  They are all fallible beings and probably misunderstood what God told them.