By Ayodeji Alabi
27 March 2012
Violence is the exertion of physical force against a perceived opponent, barrier or challenge, so as to kill, injure, weaken, overcome or abuse. It is the application and /or display of intense, turbulent or furious and often destructive action to achieve control and /or dominion in the event of perceived opposition, either real or imagined, against a desired goal or target. The intent of violence is, “to subdue or take by force, something” (either justifiably, legally or morally, or otherwise), which is in contention between two or more individuals or groups, including persons, communities, nations, associations, professions, government and religions, etc. Synonyms of ‘violence’ include force, coercion, compulsion, constraint, and duress. Closely related to these are fury, savagery, assault, attack, clash, onslaught, rampage, struggle, tumult, and uproar. The only antonym of all the above is ‘peace’, which only synonym is ‘non-violence.’ It is also instructive to state that the two, violence and peace, do not co-habit. Peace disappears where violence exists, and vice versa. Peace is good, while violence destroys. Being ‘good’ is a virtue which flows from the inside of a man through the infilling of the Spirit of God.
Linguists who specialise in studying the origin of words in languages claim that the etymological origin of the word ‘good’ is ‘God’. Be that as it may, if God is good, which is certain, then, God is peaceful. In actual fact, the image of God implanted into man’s subconscious being right from infancy is that, God is love, and where love exists, violence has no place. All religious books contain stories of how God has displayed his love towards man. First, at creation, God gave man dominion over all things that He had created before man, giving man a ‘super intelligence’ incomparable to that of any other living thing. Secondly, in order not to violate the reasonability (or reasoning ability) of man, God added unto him ‘freewill’, granting him freedom to make his choices from a wide range of options, either good or evil. Thirdly, pre-empting the evil tendencies in man, and to avert it by moral persuasion, the institution of religion was done through a deliberate inspiration of God with a view to bringing man into closer relationship with God, through spiritual acculturation done on a platter of peace and love.
Religion, as instituted by God, thus becomes the bridge between man and God, directed at achieving two main objectives, namely, (a) to bring man into closer spiritual fellowship with God, his maker; and (b) to save man from his main carnal weakness, that is, ‘selfishness,’ through a deliberate system of moral teaching and enlightenment. The ultimate purpose of religion, therefore, is to institute ‘Godly sanity’ into the world of men in the face of the eventualities of the brutish struggle for the survival of the fittest. What a noble purpose? With time, however, religion became hijacked and transformed into ‘professional portfolios’ by selfish, malcontent individuals, who now became ‘religious merchants’ to take advantage of the ignorance of men concerning the notion of ‘life hereafter’ to manipulate man’s thought pattern toward a particular direction of philosophical and/or ideological teaching. Conflicts thus arose among the different teachings, and consequently, with the survival instinct, confrontations ensued between the proponents of the divergent views concerning the ‘true’ paths to God and ‘life in the beyond’. Violence then became an option to prove their faiths.
The leaders of faith began to assemble ‘foot soldiers’ to not only sustain themselves, but to also consolidate their holdings acquired over time through the instrumentalities of their teachings. Additional ‘no retreat no surrender indoctrinations then became necessary to be imported into religious teachings by the wisdom of men. Expansion also became necessary. The ‘do-or-die’ violent system of religious propagation thus became established. Later on, having realised that religion had become the ‘opium of the masses’, competing elite hijacked it as an instrument for the acquisition of political power. All religions the world over have either instigated and or experienced one form of violence or another along the path of time. However, for obvious reasons, Christianity and Islam will be our main focus in this piece.
Christianity as a religion is based on the ‘New Testament’ teachings and lifestyle of Jesus Christ, who came to reform the ‘old order.’ The old order itself, the Hebrew religion, Judaism, as relayed in the Old Testament section of the Holy Bible, portrays the ‘Jewish God’ as an unrepentant instigator of violence. The Hebrew religion affirms that the ‘Jewish God’ had called out Abraham, the father of faith, and promised to give him landed inheritances which originally belonged to some other nations, namely, the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaims, the Amorites, the Cannanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. (Genesis 15:18 – 21)
As unfair as it was, this was the justification for violence against those people, and in the passage of time, war had to be waged to acquire and take possession of those lands, by force. However, as stated earlier, Christianity came to reform that old order, hence, the new slogan became ‘love those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you……if they slap you on one cheek, turn the other cheek also.’ Christianity now portrays the ‘Christian God’ as the progenitor of love, peace and forgiveness. This has remained the pillar of the Christian faith up till date. Godly sanity which was ‘killed’ in the Old Testament became ‘resurrected’ in the New Testament. No more violence.
Source: The Nigerian Tribune
There is a query whether the word, fight, in the Quran literally is to be interpreted as physical violence. The following are the extracts from various translations for elaboration:1)An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #76, “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.” (Mohsin Khan’s translation) The phrase, those who reject Faith fight in the cause of Evil, as mentioned above should not be interpreted literally as physical violence or else the phrase would turn up to be that those that do not believe in Allah would take out weapons to fight against evil. As the phrase, fight in the cause of evil, as mentioned above should not be literally interpreted as physical violence against evil, the phrase, fight in the cause of Allah, should not be literally interpreted as stirring up physical violence and havoc in the society. The same is for the subsequent phrase, So fight ye against the friends of Satan, would not be literally interpreted as stirring physical violence and havoc against Satan.
The only acceptable interpretation for the word, fight, above should be meant for spiritual fighting instead of physical fighting. Or in other words, when the phrase, fight in the cause of Allah, is mentioned, it could mean the people that struggle spiritually to gain many believers as they could instead of implying stirring up physical violence in the society. When the phrase, fight in the cause of Evil, is mentioned above, it could imply that those non-muslims that reject faith are challenging the risk of evil and that is spiritual death in the future to be separated from Allah eternally. The phrase, So fight ye against the friends of Satan, as mentioned above, could be interpreted as those non-muslims that reject faith would turn up to challenge spiritually against the friends of Satan in which the Satan might have set trap for their down-fall. 2) An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #76, “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.” (Yusuf Ali’s translation) The phrase, those who reject Faith fight in the cause of evil, as mentioned here could not be interpreted as those who reject Faith would take up arms to fight against evil. The phrase, So fight ye against the friends of Satan, could also not to be interpreted as taking up arms to fight physically the invisible Satan. Thus, most likely all the word, fight, in Quran refers to spiritually fighting, such as, earnestly calling non-muslims to become muslims instead of literally means taking up arms to stir up problem in the society.3) An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #76, “Those who believe fight in the way of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the way of the Shaitan. fight therefore against the friends of the Shaitan; surely the strategy of the Shaitan is weak.” (Shakir’s translation) The phrase, those who disbelieve fight in the way of the Shaitan, should not be interpreted as taking up arms to fight against invisible Shaitan or else one would ponder what weapons to use so as to fight with them physically.4) An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #76, “Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil's strategy is ever weak.” (Pickthal’s translation) The phrase, those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols, could not be interpreted as those who disbelieve who fight physically against the idols. This is due to some non-muslims are idolatry worshippers and they certainly would not fight against the idols. Thus, the phrase, those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols, should be interpreted as those who disbelieve would turn up to have the risk as idols to be in the hell.From the above different translation, it would come to the conclusion that the word, fight, in Quran might not encourage muslims to stir up physical violence and havoc against non-muslims in the society. Instead, it could mean to stir up spiritual war in the sense to get more people to become muslims.If that is the case, there is a possibility that the phrase, to fight until unbelievers no more, could be interpreted as to have spiritually warfare so as to get more non-muslims to become muslims until no more non-muslims in that place instead of referring it to physical violence or etc.