Paper Presentation at Drew University, USA
EARLY WARNING INDICATORS OF RELIGIOUS MOTIVATED VIOLENCE, being a presentation by Imam Dr. Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa , Interfaith Mediation Center, kaduna, Nigeria at Drew University, Department of Religion and Conflict Resolution, New Jersey, USA ON 18th, July 2016.
In the name of Almighty Allah, may the best of salutations be upon Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and all sincere believers. Distinguished Brothers and Sisters may the peace and blessings of Almighty Allah be with you all, Amin.
Why are we in need of early warning indicators of religious motivated violence extremism today. Why Interfaith dialogue and peace building.
Sacks asserted that, The western secularists at the end of late twentieth century, concludedon the role of religion in public space and individual life as follows:
” We no longer need the Bible to explain the universe, instead we have science.
We do not need Sacred ritual to control human destiny, but we have technology.
When we are ill, we do not need prayer, we have doctors, medicine and surgery.
If we are depressed, there is alternative to religious consolation, Antidepressant
Drugs. When we feel overwhelmed by guilt, we can choose psychotherapy in place
Of confessional. Forseeker of transcendence, there are rocks concerts and sports
Matches….”. (Not In God’s Name, pg. 12-13 ).
However, at the beginning of twenty first century instead of state of secularism getting stronger, de – secularization is getting stronger, More sons and daughters of the West and America are more embracing eastern religions to the extremes.
Therefore, We need a deeper reflection, why religion is becoming part of the human problems instead of being the solution. Why isreligion breeding demons instead of Angelic humans. When perceived believers are becoming religiously brutal and pitiless.
Indeed, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his latest book : ‘Not in God’s Name’ ask the following provocativequestions thus:
“How is it that people kill in the name of God of Life;
wage war in the name of God of Peace;
promote hate in the name of the God of Love;
practice cruelty in the name the God of Compassion;
How, if we are the image of God, often harm the work of God,
Especially our fellow humans.”
Why world leaders with inclusive critical thinkers motivated by their religious convictions becomes victims of assassinations from religious extremists within their tradition and neighbors. examples are as follows:
1)- Mahatma Gandhi as founding father of India killed by Hindi extremistNathuram Godse. on 30th January 1948 in New Delhi.
2)- prime Minister Indira Gandhi by 2 Sikhs religious extremists in 1980s.
3)- President Ranasnghe Premanadase of Srilanka by Tamil Tiger extremist in May 1993.
4)- Rohingha Muslims extermination by The Buddhist 969 Monks extremists movement in Myanmar. Since 2012 to date in the western state.
5)- Martin Luther King Jr.. by extremists Christian James Early Ray in 1968.
6)- Ex Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel by Jewish extremist Yigal Amir..November, 1995.
7)- Ex- President Anwar Sadat by Muslim extremist in Egypt on October 6, 1981, The Islamic Jihad Group, under Al- Zomor, a former military officer, who supply the ammunition for the President assassination.
Does the God of Abraham want us to hate and rejoice in holy war….?
Are there peace loving non violence religious group around the corner to counter the. Extremist groups. ..?. The answer is yes!!. Not all religious believers and movements are violent extremists.
Examples are as follows:
(1)- Hinduism have Mahatma Gandhi Satyagraha non violence model against the extremist Abhir Bharat group, and Bajrang Dal group under the leadership of Dara Singh that coordinate the burning alive in their car of a Christian Australian Missionary Graham Staines and two of his children ( Philips 10yrs and Timothy 6yrs ) on 22January 1999 at Mandrapur village in kendujhar district, state of Orissa, India. Dara Singh is now in prison for life sentence for leading that murderous crime.
(2)- Buddhism had the non violence movement under the leadership of the Nobel laureate peace prize Dalai Lama against the 969 militant movement leaderless from Myanmar.since 2012 under the guidance of a fierce Monks by name Ashin Wirathu, who nickname self” The Burnese Bin Laden of Myanmar “.
(3)- Sikhism had it golden values based on love and compassion against the hate and violence breeding Babbar khaisar which member allegedlyfacilitated the bombing of air India 182, killing all 329 passengers in 1985 from Canada.
(4)- Judaism had the peace loving individual and Haredim quetist nature group versus Zionist motivated extreme groups. And individual like Barukh Goldsteinwho enter the Hebron mosque where Abraham tomb reside, he open fire and murdered 29 Muslims and wounded dozens performing juma’a prayers on Friday 1994.
(5)- Christianity had it golden principles represented by religiously motivated individuals, institutions and groups such as the Mennonites and the Amish communities against the extremists such as Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber of 1995. and Anders Breivik, The Norwegian gun trotter who murder 77 and wounded over 125 people in 2hours on July 22, 2011.and the Ugandan Lord Resistance Army (LRA) Joseph Kony who are expert in turning children into killer machines ( child soldier factory.).
(6)- Islam had the peace loving sects such as the Sufi groups and the Tabligh Jama’a non violent movements, who are the dominant majority of global Muslims as its members against the violent extremists TALIBAN, ISIS, and BOKO HARAM minority groups.
Distinguished interfaith peacemakers let me gives you some examples of Drivers of Radicalization using religion in Islam and manipulating the mines of vulnerable groups as follows:
“The Mosque is our barracks
The domes is our helmets
The minarets is our Bayonets
The faithful are our soldiers”.
( Anonymous )
The prophet Muhammad(pbuh) gives us the following tool as an admonition for early warning and early respond in our journey of life thus:
“Take care of 5 before 5 things
Your health before sickness
Wealth before poverty
Youth before old age
Life before death
World before hereafter”.
Almighty Allah give the muslin a mechanism for verification of any message we received to guide its adherent against propaganda, manipulation and radicalization
In the Glorious Qur’an Surat Hujarat:
“O you who believe! If a wicked person brings you any important news, EXAMINE IT GRATEFULLY. Lest you should harm some people in ignorance, and afterwards you may have to repent for what you did. ( Qur’an 49:6.).
Secondly, we need to set up Scriptural text circles to have a deeper reflection on meaning of text that seems ambiguous and subject to exclusive interpretations, that breed hate and violence extremisms against the others.
Indeed, religion has a positive toolfor identifying of physical and psychological early warning indicators for prevention of conflicts and promoting compassionate reconciliation and bridge building across the human family. However , we have to keep watching out because, we have the good, the bad and the ugly among each religions.
Religious leaders who had the tendency to manipulate the ignoranceand the vulnerability of the people, for their selfish interests under the guise of defending their community collective grievances.
The interfaith mediation Centre Nigeria had set up effective mechanism for identifying early warning and early respond indicators of religious motivated drivers of violence. We have a Tolerance project supported by USAID, building the capacity of religious leaders to move beyond tolerance to acceptance. We have effective early warning system tag : community peace action network (CPAN). And we are happy to share some of these tools with all the participants from different part of the world especially delegates from Israel / Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia Nigeria and United States of America.
All of us are children of Abraham. May we see the Grace of the Almighty in the other and honor the strangers on our path as our spiritual father Abraham demonstrated that act which becomes the sources of blessing to him. Special thanks to Prof Chris Taylor and all his colleagues who facilitate this important events for the Drew University, New Jersey, U.S.A.
May Almighty Allah give us the wisdom to know the truth, and nothing but the truth, and give us the courage to follow it. And show us falsehood and nothing but falsehood , and give us the courage to abstain from falsehood. And help us to become the through ambassadors of our Abrahamic religious traditions, Amin.