Laiq Ahmed Atif
The history of man is full of killing and bloodshed. Since the first murder on this earth, so much blood has been spilled throughout history that the whole world could be painted red with it – with plenty to spare. When will man stop killing his fellow men? When will his thirst for blood ever be quenched?
Throughout human history man has remained thirsty for the blood of others. His aggressiveness has remained unchanged. Assassination of individuals and the annihilation of whole groups of peoples are a repetitive theme of history. States have attacked states; countries have fought against their neighbours and against nations far from their borders. Hordes of people living in the steppes and deserts conquered nations with ancient civilisations.
Sometimes blood was spilled in the name of honour, sometimes in the name of revenge for supposed wrongs. Sometimes angry hordes overran peaceful lands in search of food, sometimes in search of world domination. But more often the blood of man – created in God’s image – was shed in the name of his creator. Religion was used as an excuse for mass murder.
In the last few months we have seen some painful and heart-breaking incidents of killing in the name of religion. On May 28, 86 members of Ahmadiyya Community were brutally killed in Lahore, Pakistan and are being severely persecuted and sentenced for years only because of their religion.
This is happening in many other countries. Seven Christians were killed in Gojra and two other were killed in Faisalabad, Pakistan and eight Christians were put to death in a village in Nigeria only because of their faith.
The history of religion in any part of the world at any time is the history of torture, repression, execution and crucifixion. It is disappointing indeed to find that religion, which is supposed to be the last refuge of peace in a world of war and conflict, is a cause of destruction and bloodshed. Religion itself is not the real cause of mass murder, however, and it is a great mistake to think it is. Religion was not given to man to encourage killing.
The Holy Quran points out very clearly why a cursory glance at history can lead one to such a conclusion. It cites the past to show that those who perpetuate brutality in religion’s name are either anti-religious or people whose religion has been corrupted. There are also religious leaders who have no warmth, compassion, mercy or piety. To be honest, they are hypocrites with a lust for power – cruelty is their ruling passion. It would be a great mistake to associate religion with the misdeeds of such men. The real truth is that God – the fountainhead of mercy – does not allow the followers of any religion to oppress His people.
The purpose of any religion is the spread of peace, tolerance and understanding. And the future of mankind depends on the intrinsic values of love, tolerance and freedom of conscience and of belief. A few months ago in a programme about peace organised by Ahmadiyya Community Malta, Prof. Guido de Marco, President Emeritus, spoke very beautiful words to describe religion: “Religions are a great weapon for peace”.
All religions have taught peace, respect and love towards all human beings, and discouraged the killing of men. The Holy Quran gives absolute honour and respect to human life and states very clearly: “Whosoever killed a person – unless it be for killing a person or for creating disorder in the land – it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and who so gave life to one, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.” (Ch. 5: V.33)
After this great teaching, if someone sheds the blood of innocent people in the name of religion, he has no protection in religion, his actions must be strongly condemned and he should be brought to justice and be punished according to the law.
Thus, this is a very beautiful teaching of Islam – that the unlawful killing or the shedding of innocent blood of someone is like the killing of the entire human race, that is to say, the taking of a single life is like the massacre of thousands of innocent lives; and saving a single human life is like the saving of thousands of lives. This is the beautiful teaching of religion and it truly proves that religion is not the weapon of disorder, killing or bloodshed but is the most powerful weapon of love, respect and peace.
The author is president, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta.
The Times: Tuesday, 10th August 2010