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Once again we are forced to confront the connection between religion and violence. The murder of several staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris is the latest example.

For those who feel the need to identify Je Suis Charlie, it would behoove us to understand just how brave the employees of this magazine were:

Not just print original satirical cartoons taking the piss out of Islamic-terrorist sensibilities, but do so six days after you were firebombed for taking the piss out of Islamic-terrorist sensibilities (pictured), and do so in such a way that’s genuinely funny (IMO) and even touching, with the message “Love is stronger than hate.”

Hebdo’s satire bit, and it bit without regard to political creed or religious faith.  The magazine forces us to confront the proper limits of political satire in a civil society.  But in liberal democracies, political opinion

The magazine First Things has an excellent piece today on the relationship between violence and terror.  Here is the crux of the problem:

Contrary to repeated Muslim denials, key aspects of the ideology of radical violent Muslim groups are indeed rooted in Islamic texts and history. Al-Qaeda, IS, and Boko Haram have their origins mainly in Wahhabi and Salafi thought. These are traditions of fundamentalist Islamic interpretation that have widespread influence across the Muslim world. Founding leaders of jihadi groups have either been students of leading Wahhabi-Salafi scholars or were inspired by their works.

The faith is heavily legalistic, and those prescriptions by religious legal scholars centuries past, still govern the Faith to this day, albeit, perhaps in extremist fashion, which might shock tolerant people:

Wahhabi and Salafi thought in their modern expression derive from Islamic jurist-theologians Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) and Muhammad Abd ­al-­Wahhab (d. 1792). They are both renowned students and teachers of the Hanbali school of law. Salafi teaching upholds the first three generations of Muslim history (salaf) as sacrosanct alongside the prophetic example. Not all Salafis are Wahhabis. The latter brand any practice or teaching later than the third century of Islam (salaf) as satanic innovation (bida‘). Wahhabism is the most literalist and iconoclastic branch of Hanbalism, which itself is the most conservative of the four main schools. For instance, while other Muslims might urge abstention from alcohol, Wahhabis also prohibit stimulants, including tobacco. Not only is modest dress prescribed but also the type of clothing that should be worn, especially by women (a black abaya, covering all but the eyes and hands). Religious education includes training in the use of weapons. Wahhabism emphasizes the importance of avoiding non-Islamic cultural practices and non-Muslim fraternity on the grounds that the sunna and the central importance of Muhammad as exemplar forbid imitating non-Muslims. Wahhabi scholars have warned against taking non-Muslims as friends and against smiling at or even wishing them well on their holidays.

But does this mean that all are violent?  No.  Those who are jihadists are “taking the law in their own hands” and this the prophet forbids:

Nevertheless, it is equally misleading to argue that the jihadi groups represent the true face of Islam. While the legal and doctrinal edicts that the jihadists cite are integral parts of Islamic law, the jihadists without question violate that law by taking it into their own hands. Their failure to consider the conditions necessary for the declaration of jihad, as well as for its proper conduct, provides an obvious example. Questions of which groups can be targeted, and of how and toward what end, are enormously complicated and sharply qualified in the authoritative legal texts. For instance, all four Sunni schools of law, including the Hanbali school, agree that the declaration of jihad can be justified for the sake of preserving or extending the government of an Islamic state. Therefore, as is the case in Christian just-war theory, in which the power to declare war is carefully limited to governments, in Islamic law only legitimate Islamic governments can declare a jihad, not individuals or nonstate actors. An exception is made when a Muslim land comes under attack or occupation by an enemy force, which renders jihad or resistance an individual responsibility. But even then, jihad has to have been formally declared by the legitimate authority properly representing the people of the occupied nation. By declaring and conducting jihad on their own, al-Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram, and other such groups act as heretical usurpers.

There is much more to be considered in this regard as to just how far outside of Islamic Law terror groups are.  Bill Maher has his take, of course:

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His is an opinion to be taken seriously.  For IF it is true a majority believe in the punishments because of religion, then the author of First Things should make an addendum to his essay:

We need to strongly resist the view that Islam is the problem, that the Qur’an is the problem, that Muhammad is the problem. To denounce Islam as a death-loving religion—or the Qur’an and Muhammad as a constitution and example, respectively, for terrorists—provides excuses for twisted zealots. It reinforces their deluded belief that they and only they are the true Muslims. Moreover, it inspires fear and mistrust among the great majority of Muslims, who are not jihadists. If the Qur’an and Islam are the problems, what is the solution? Drop bombs on the Ka’bah in Mecca? Ban the use of the Qur’an?

I concur with that in part, but if any religion believes death should follow any private behavior, then there are problems with said religion, especially when natural rights are at stake.

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