Terrorism is a topic you won’t see too often at earthpages.org. My reasons are simple. For many years I have been under the impression that the mind of the terrorist is so thoroughly conditioned – possibly possessed – that no reasonable arguments against his or her behavior will be heeded.
Studies suggest that with some extremists, clear-headed arguments only fuel the fire of their unholy desires and designs.
Before the birth of modern psychology, the philosopher John Stuart Mill said much the same thing.
Years ago I had an unfortunate encounter with a former contributor to Earthpages. The individual and I were on good terms until they submitted an article about terrorism, which after some deliberation I rejected. My rejection seemed to trigger a plethora of underlying disagreements we probably both had been glossing over for the sake of promoting meaningful dialog.
After responding to an implied insult not necessarily about me but seemingly about my country, I eventually removed all of the articles previously submitted by that person—if I remember right, upon their request.
It just didn’t feel right to pretend we were still okay when we were not. So I also pulled a review I wrote about one of their products.
I sometimes look back on that fiasco and try to learn from it. Could I have done something differently? Maybe worded my rejection a bit more diplomatically?
At that time, I don’t believe so. I had so many stressors acting on me at that point in my life that my handling of the situation was less than stellar.
Also, when considering whether or not to reject that first terrorism article, a concentrated experience of The Holy Spirit came over me and I believe a saintly presence gave me the clear and distinct impression that I should not publish it.
Today, many years later, it’s round two with a submission about terrorism from another respected contributor, Rabbi Allen S. Maller.
That same metaphorical ‘voice’ seems to be saying I should go ahead with the article this time, but with caution and a sober introduction.
Again, I don’t like talking about terrorism because I feel it’s not my particular battleground. Unless you’re new here you should know that my main areas of interest are psychology, sociology, philosophy and religious studies, with a more recent turn to trying to uncover the dark dynamics of hostile espionage.
But life is about change. So I’m going ahead with this one, even though my feeling is that most brainwashed individuals are probably going to do what they’re preparing to do, anyhow.
The solution rests on the appropriate authorities weeding out and legally stopping these bad actors before they commit terrible crimes against humanity.
We arguably find similar scenarios with hostile spies and anyone else not really playing with a full deck. Nice words trying to get them to see the light are great. But as Rabbi Maller seems to be saying, we need effective, integrated and uncompromised law enforcement to really stop them.
A Muslim And A Jewish Voice Against Terrorism
With the rise in white supremacist and anti-immigrant hate movements in the US, and Europe, and Hindu Nationalist groups in India; we can expect to see much more hate group terrorism in the future.
However, for the last several years the largest number of victims of terrorists, have been Muslims murdered by other Muslims.
A little over two years ago, while reading about the 305 people, including 27 children, murdered during Friday prayers at a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, I felt deep despair.
Then I remembered an article by Ali Al-Bukhaiti, a Yemeni politician, that gave me hope again.
Ali Al-Bukhaiti wrote: “The fight against terrorism requires a single, consistent standard that prohibits the targeting of civilians, wherever they are, and whatever their faith, be it Muslim, Christian, Jewish, any other religion and even atheists. Without such a common standard we won’t be to convince anyone that targeting civilians is inherently cowardly and a crime against humanity.”
“A killer will inevitably find a pretext or interpretation that allows him to apply the same religious reasoning anywhere on earth, and against any civilians, regardless of their faith or race. This is not hypothetical, it is borne out by the facts on the ground. The idea that permitted the targeting of Israeli civilians also permitted the targeting of religious minorities like the Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, and the Copts in Egypt.”
And this same idea led to the targeting of Shiite Muslim civilians in Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, Sufis in Egypt, and the Zaydis in Yemen as infidels. Moreover, it is the same idea that frees a terrorist to strike even civilians of his own faith if need be when they are in the vicinity of those whom he considers to be infidels. Deviation generates more deviation.
“Those who clap and cheer when a suicide bomber blows himself up on a bus carrying students in Tel Aviv, or at the World Trade Center in New York, or in a train station in London or in Paris, should not then cry when civilians in Mecca or in Sana’a or Egypt come under such attacks. The protection of civilian lives is an inviolable precept, regardless of geography, religion and political conflict. And if this precept is diluted or applied unevenly we will not be able to defeat terrorism. It will reach everywhere and will be visited upon everyone.”
“When it comes to the deliberate killing of civilians, there is no difference between Mecca, London, Berlin, Paris, Tel Aviv, Orlando, Cairo, Islamabad, Sana’a and other cities in the world. Unless we apply a single standard for dealing with all civilians in the world, we will not succeed in combating terrorism.
“Action against terrorism that targets civilians starts with a serious stand against every one of those who have issued and continue to issue fatwas for targeting any civilians anywhere. From now on, they must be deemed accountable unless they retract their fatwas; they must be off-limits, their movements must be restricted, their media appearances prevented, the sale and circulation of their books banned, and any acts of support or financing for their charities — or even hosting them — criminalized.”
“Furthermore, there must be strict laws stipulating that any fatwa or justification for targeting civilians anywhere – even inside Israel – shall be deemed a punishable offense. In addition, school books must be revised to excise fatwas and religious views that in any way justify the targeting of civilians.”
“Clarity, courage and transparency, along with the acknowledgment of past mistakes and the upholding of a single standard for everyone are the right way to begin countering the extremism that targets civilians. Without this, we will remain caught in a vicious circle, and terrorism will be visited upon everyone.”
Khaled Abou El Fadl, Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law has written: “Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, and of course their theological “teachers”, methodically and systematically destroy everything beautiful in Islam. They target and destroy the artifacts and historical sites that defy their pedantic and false sense of history. These are the true radical extremists. They and only they are the true enemies of Islam.”
To which I as a Reform Rabbi who has studied Islam for 60 years would add that these extremists always repeat: “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” (Qur’an 3:85); while they always ignore: “O Mankind, We created you from male and female, and made you peoples and tribes, that you may know (respect) one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Qur’an 49:13)
And: ”Let there be no compulsion in Religion: truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah (monotheism) has grasped the most trustworthy unbreakable hand hold: Allah hears, and knows all things.” (Qur’an:2:256)
And “Say: we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma’il: Isaac, Jacob and The Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another, among them, and to God (alone) do we bend our will.” (Qur’an 3:84)
Only the active joint co-operation of religious leaders from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities can keep the hate-spewing terrorists of the world from becoming an apocalyptic Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog) nightmare.
If we join together to oppose all the Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog) nightmare extremists, we can with God’s help avoid that future and instead attain the future foreseen by Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, together with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19: 23-25)
We all better get to work.
Allen S. Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. His web site is: www.rabbimaller.com. He blogs on the Times of Israel. Rabbi Maller has published 400+ articles in some two dozen different Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. He is the author of two recent books: “Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms’ and “Which Religion Is Right For You? A 21st Century Kuzari.”