The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Clash of Two Aggressive Religious Philosophies

By: Hari Sud
March 21, 2006

Christianity and Islam have common roots. They both originated roughly in the same geographical area. Christianity owes its origin to the Romans and King Harold’s atrocities on the people of the Jewish state of Judea (modern day Israel) and corrupt Temple culture in Jerusalem. Early Christians were hounded out of Israel but found followers in Syria, Egypt and Rome. The very existence of Christian cult in Rome angered the Roman, hence their atrocities. They did not hesitate to feed them to the loins in the Coliseum. But the resilient nature of the Christian philosophy attracted more followers, until a Roman general named Constantine was promised victory over his adversaries and the crown of Rome, should he become a Christian. He followed the advice and triumphed in the battle and later became Emperor Constantine. Later the whole Roman Empire was decried to become Christian. More wars were fought in the name of Christianity by later Roman emperors, to win Christian converts all over the Roman world. Thus Christianity began a fiery start in and around the Mediterranean Sea and spread to northern and eastern Europe. Although written and propagated Christian philosophy is gentle and pleasant, yet its propagation is nothing but gentle. They fought two hundred years of war in the 11th and 12th century to wrest control of Jerusalem from the other aggressive religion i.e. Islam. Elsewhere in South America, Africa and India, Christian soldiers fighting for the faith and riches slaughtered a whole lot of people to win over converts. In India, in 1857 a similar attempt was unsuccessful because the existing religious beliefs were too strong and a similar slaughter instead of winning converts could have ended the British domination. Here they put commercial interests ahead of religious interests.

Islam, the other religion has its roots in the Middle East. It originated not far from Jerusalem. Arabs and Jews are neighbor and sons of the same Father. The former had no religion for 1700 years, although the Jews had a thriving religious philosophies starting from the days of Exodus from Egypt in about 1100BC. The Arabs wished the same. They got their wish in the 7th century AD when God appeared to Prophet Muhammad and revealed Koran to him. The Prophet immediately set about winning converts to his faith in Arabia. War on the infidels was the only way to win converts hence He fought wars within Arabia and asked his followers to spread the word of God outside Arabia, using war as one tool. Later they snatch away Jerusalem, from the Jews and the Christians. The followers of the Prophet Mohammed even after His ascent to the heaven continued their quest for converts and land. In just one hundred years, Arabs had conquered all lands from Spain to Western India. This by any historical account is a remarkable feet. All the conquered nations were converted to their faith. Refusal meant certain death. Consolidation of this landmass, with different cultures under Arabic rule resulted in intellectual curiosity and transfer of ideas from one culture to the other. Mathematics and Astronomy was learnt in India. Politics Science and philosophy was learnt from Greeks. All these ideas were translated, developed and taught to backward Christian nations in Europe.

Both the above religions together with Jewish religion have one common denominator i.e. the city of Jerusalem. Each claims this city as its own. Each is prepared to shed blood to keep it under its control. The Crusades of 11th and 12th century were inter-faith religious warfare where Christian Europe sent armies to liberate Jerusalem from the Islamic Arab control. The latter did not give it up easily to the invading Christian armies. Warfare of 200 years ensued and remained inconclusive. Christians wasted their energies and manpower to conquer Jerusalem but gave it up in the end as a difficult task. Muslim claimed it as a great victory. Later both religions settled down to consolidate. Muslim expanded in India & Far East and Christianity in Eastern Europe & American continent. Whereas the Muslim won their wars on a horseback, the Christians took to the sea. Each with war on other nations expanded its domination and in the process, converts.

For the next 800 years after Crusades, political and religious situation in Jerusalem stayed quite. An uneasy peace was maintained by the two religions. Muslim even tried to conquer Christian Europe but were turned back by the French King “Martel the Hammer” in the 8th century and later the combined might of Central Europeans under Austria halted the free march of the Ottoman Turks (Muslims) in 16th and 17th century. All these wars were inconclusive; hence animosity between the two faiths did not halt, but was given a brief respite. The point is that all through the Middle Ages to the modern times there has been an uneasy peace between Christians and Muslims. The Christian armies (the West) triumphed in the 20th century by defeating the Muslim Turks in WWI. The latter had ruled Arabia and all Muslim states in and around it for the last 500 years. Muslim forces uneasy with these developments preached Jihad. The latter without resources was an empty threat. Money came into the Muslim pockets with oil and gas discoveries in the Middle East after WWII. The latter was a heaven sent opportunity for Muslim to arm and get even the Christian West. That is what is happening today in the Middle East. Although circumstances are a bit different but purpose is same i.e. two great religions are trying to slug it out for supremacy.

So, What happened after the WWII?

Events, which followed the WWII, have shaken the world in the last 50 years. The state of Israel was formed right in the middle of the Muslim Palestine in 1949. The angry Romans had expelled Jews in the 1st century AD. Since then they had wandered from place to place and country to country, looking for a permanent home. Everywhere they went, a welcome mat was extended initially and then was withdrawn. This happened again in Germany during the WWII and resulted in the Holocaust. Now the Jews wished to return to the Palestine and reclaim their promised land including Jerusalem. The Jews from 1950 to 1967 with open warfare defeated inept Muslim armies and the state of Israel was firmly established. Muslim Arabs living on those lands were expelled. The Jews claimed these lands are their own as the “Promised Land” given to them by God.

The fuse for open warfare between Jews and Muslim was lit one more time. This time it was over Jewish occupation of lands settled by Muslim 1500 years back. Christian Europe and America sided with the Jewish state. Muslim world (about 1 Billion and a quarter of them) favored their brethren in Palestine. This made them enemies of the Jews and Christians. Some Muslim monarchies in the Middle East who managed to stay friendly with the Americans and the Europe lost their clout with the masses and became figurehead under the eyes of their populace. Later, they adopted a novel attitude. At home they professed to be devout Muslim. Abroad they became puppets of Christian Europe and America.

Present day Christian-Jewish combine and its conflict with Muslim is as a result of above happenings in last 50 years. Jihad against the former was preached in the Mosques and in open public squares to get the population roused for a fight. The conditions of the earlier Crusades were made ready. Christian armies under one pretext or the other invaded Middle East. May it is in Palestine or Iraq or Afghanistan or Beirut or Suez Canal, it was Crusade for the Muslim. Muslim brotherhood could not allow this to happen. They banded together to resist it. The latter very smartly took the fight to Christian lands in the form of 9/11 or Madrid/London bombings or simply blowing out the West’s commercial passenger planes out of the skies. In addition, looking for a fight, the Muslim simply created uproar on any issue including a silly row over Prophet Mohammed’s cartoon or alleged incident in which a copy of Koran was flushed down the toilet in US. They were letting the Christians know that Muslim are alive and kicking and are prepared for another 200 years of fight.

Hence, the Present Situation in the Middle East

No matter what the merits of each other’s case, it is a fight of two aggressive religions, which have common roots but have never seen eye to eye with each other. Muslim resent occupation of their land. May it be temporary as in Iraq or Afghanistan or permanent as in case of Jerusalem? These occupations are the root cause of today’s fight. Efforts of the over confident west so far have met a bloody noose. The Mullah in the Mosque has grabbed lead among the Muslim masses. Today the Mullah has acquired both political as well as religious power. This happened mainly due to the decline of political influence of kings, sheikhs and amirs over their subjects. The latter were seen too cozy to the West. The masses believe that the Mullah in the Mosque is uncorrupt, pure and true believer. They are prepared to die for a cause if he gives the call. Christians on the other hand have moved away from this concept. The Church has been separated from the politics; hence the Church cannot give a call to arms as they did 800 years back. This lead now belongs in the hand of the politicians. The latter is not in any means less aggressive than the Popes and the Bishops as is evident from the happenings of last 50 years. The difference is that Popes and Bishop served only religious interest; the politicians serve commercial interest also. Hence commercial conquest of the world is the buzzword for US & Europe. This interest of the West has coincided with the Jewish desire to retake the Holy Land after 2000 years absence. This has re-ignited the dormant fight. Add to this, the west’s desire to grab all the oil and gas from the region by hook or by crook, we have the making of a major fight. In the process the Muslim are too delighted to grab as much money as possible from the West by selling oil and gas at a high price and give it to the Mullah to continue fight with the Christian armies.

Guts and blood of Muslim is Scaring the Christian Armies Away

Unable to fight the invading Christian armies face to face, Mullahs exhorted the faithful to stand up to the West and fight an unconventional warfare. A noble method of suicide bombing was invented. The, would be bomber was told the fairy tale of virgins and honey waiting for him in the heavens. The political leadership of the day in the Muslim world was unable to prevent this from happening. They stepped aside. As in Iraq and in Palestine, everyday bombing and slitting of the throat of the invaders and the local collaborators has became an everyday affair. Terror struck outsiders is having difficult time even to stay and look friendly. They are awe struck by the shear audacity of the young men and women who strap explosive belts at the urging of the Mullah and carry out their acts. The Western armies have no response to it. It is just a matter of time that Vietnam War or Soviet Afghanistan War type withdrawal will be announced by the invaders. As in the previous Crusades, the Muslim will claim another victory.

Why has the West Stupid Enough Not to see this Happening?

The western military and political leaders simply did not connect the small happenings in the Muslim world, which indicated that the political leadership has lost control and hardliner Mullahs are in-charge. It had happened in Iran 25 years back. It had happened in Palestine and in Lebanon where Mullahs were in control. The West stayed oblivious to these happenings and decided to march into Iraq in 1991 and 2003. A few over confident officials in Washington thought that Iraq is an easy prize. By simply unseating its unpopular leader they thought that they will accomplice the dual task of getting Oil as well as the goodwill of the people. They could not be more wrong. Removal of Saddam Hussein from the leadership resulted in handing over power to the firebrand Shia leaders. The elected leaders and the new constitution in Iraq became a joke. The Iraqis want neither. All they want is for the West to leave. The foregoing is not good for the rest of the world. It has made Mullahs stronger.

Another democratic exercise in Palestinians has thrown the secular leadership out in favor of hardliner, religious Hamas movement. Today, if a democratic exercise is held in Pakistan, the same result will be evident. Hence Muslim masses have better faith in the Mullahs than in the westernized, highly educated and urbane civil government. This shift will ultimately force the US to withdraw from Middle East, permanently. What happens in the aftermath of withdrawal is anybody’s guess. Iraq is getting ready for a civil war. Other countries in the neighborhood will witness similar unrest and internal turmoil. In the end a new more aggressive society will emerge.

Can anybody prevent this from happening?

No, because internal sectarian forces which were in check for centuries have been let loose. These forces will fight among themselves first and then the West. The world will be unstable ever more. Net impact, more terrorism and escalating oil prices.

Cartoon Upheaval in the last few Weeks.

It is pity that cooler heads do not prevail in the West. A silly notion of freedom of press, which is applicable to Western and Christian democratic societies, has been used to offend Muslim religious feelings. Muslim is neither democratic nor free. This part has not been well understood in the West. If the latter were smart enough they would have ended this argument a long time back. All they got to do is to punish the editor, apologize for offending somebody’s religious sentiment and cease & desist in the future. The West did neither. They are too overconfident of their economic and military prowess that they find apology beneath their dignity. Even the Pope, the Head of the largest Christian gathering did nothing to assuage the hurt, which the Muslim were expressing. As a religious leader he should use his influence and advise the hot heads in the politics that offending religious sensitivities of anybody will draw the masses together in protest. This fact has been lost on them and Pope did nothing to cool the situation except a minor assertion here or there. So the Muslim protest goes on. Mullah’s clout is getting stronger by the day. Very soon on one argument or another similar situation will completely overthrow the local pro-west political leaders. Then the fight will take a much more ugly turn.

Are any of Them About to Back Down?

Jews in Israel, Christian military and political adventures there and the Muslim inhabitants of the Middle East are not about to back down. Jews have nowhere else to go. US and Europe for the next 40 years are in an urgent need of oil; hence they will keep on politicking in the region. All this will keep the Muslim masses at the boil and in a state of turmoil. Occasional showdown is inevitable. Superior military prowess of the West will keep them in driver’s seat. Muslim will use suicide bomber as their F-16s, to strike terror in the hearts & minds of the invading forces. In the end when everybody has had enough, the major sufferers, the Jewish state of Israel will look for a way out. They are kind of boxed in. The occupation of Jerusalem by them is the rally point for the Muslim masses. Rightly the latter has been compared to Jerusalem’s occupation during the Crusades. Wrongly the West has supported this occupation. Hence all odds are stacked in favor of continued fight, until one backs down. As the Jewish state watches lessening influence of the West, they will reach an accommodation. Likelihood of Muslim loosing, are lower. They have time on their side. With Mullahs in control they can continue the fight as long as it takes.

When the above is going on, other nations and cultures in the region like India will have a bit of a respite. That is the time India needs to grow out of poverty and make India an attractive place to live.

Hari Sud


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