EDITORIAL – The Holocaust

The Holocaust and the self that incites to evil 27th January was Holocaust Memorial Day and it was a sombre reminder of the terrible atrocities committed by the Nazis in the Second World War. It is hoped that by keeping the memory of the atrocities alive, man’s humanity will always strive to prevent such horrors from happening again. In fact this is one of the specific objectives of the commemoration, which seeks to ‘ensure that the horrendous crimes, racism and victimisation committed during the Holocaust are neither forgotten nor repeated, whether in Europe or elsewhere in the world’. Indeed few events parallel the horrors of the Holocaust. The word ‘holocaust’ stems from the Greek holos kaustos meaning ‘complete destruction’ usually by fire, and it is a chillingly apt description and a macabre reminder of the ruthless Nazi campaign to eliminate the Jews and other groups for twisted ideological and political purposes. During a period of four years over six million people were shot, gassed, starved and tortured to death. One can hardly visualise the enormity of suffering and shock this persecution must have caused. It is indeed disturbing to imagine that such persecution was ever conceived and enacted by all involved. Sadly it was not the last large scale atrocity committed by man, for the world was to witness similar horrors again, and not just once. Barely fifty years after the Holocaust, Europe witnessed another barbaric atrocity. In 1992- 1995 the genocide in Bosnia by the Serbs was the worst mass murder in Europe since the Second World War – with over 200,000 Bosnians slaughtered simply for their faith. Then in Africa, in the space of just four months between April and July 1994, nearly one million Tutsis were massacred in Rwanda by Hutu extremists. The rate of murder far outpaced even 2 The Review of Religions – February 2007 Fareed Ahmad – Newquay, UK EDITORIAL COMMENT the horrors of the Nazis. The shameful fact is that this occurred under the watch of the UN – the very body that was set up after the Second World War to prevent conflict and secure peace. Whilst it could not have prevented this Rwandan massacre on its own, its dismal failure was its unwillingness to rally interna- tional help and support. Instead, in May 1994, its Security Council unbelievably refused even to acknowledge the ongoing geno- cide, thus effectively giving the green light for the Hutus to kill with impunity. It is worrying to note that persecution and state-sponsored killings for the sake of twisted ideological or political purposes still continue across the world to this day. From the persecution of religious groups for their beliefs, to those killed as ‘collateral damage’ in wars and conflicts, man’s capacity to commit evil remains undiminished. The solution provided by Islam to this unfortunate state of affairs is to spur man to begin by looking inwards and to engage in the greater Jihad – that is the conquering of one’s inner demons and more specifically one’s ego. Only by mastering this is there any hope of people acting with justice with their fellow beings. This battle to conquer the ‘self that incites to evil’ was so eloquently set out over one hundred years ago by the Promised Messiah(as) in his inspirational treatise The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam that expounded the beauty and relevance of Qur’anic teachings. The suppression of man’s natural state i.e. the ‘self that incites to evil’ was described as the first step towards true spirituality and peace. The next step is to develop oneself in accordance with divine instructions to the state described as ‘the reproving self’ in which the natural impulses of man are subject to control so that vices are rejected and behaviour is regulated by reason. This makes him worthy of honour. The final step is the start of the spiritual state and is ‘the soul at rest’, a level at which the soul nurtures and enjoys the achievement of the success of its journey to self-improvement to the 3 EDITORIAL COMMENT The Review of Religions – February 2007 degree that it is ‘filled with spiritual powers and establishes a relationship with God Almighty’. The monumental scale of the challenge of this journey to spirituality is plain for us all to see but the path to reaching the spiritual state has been set forth by prophets of God who have appeared in every age and in every nation. Interestingly enough, as well as setting out the three stages to spirituality, the Promised Messiah(as) also prophesied that within a period of three hundred years his message of the revival of the true Islam would have gained acceptance to such a degree that it would be the prevalent belief worldwide. Whilst the stages described by the Promised Messiah(as) certainly relate to the individual one wonders if this is also reflected in the wider state of society at a particular time. Could it be that as mankind progresses from the wild to the moral state and beyond that such advancement would also be reflected in society at large? One hundred years have already passed and we have certainly seen the results of what happens when those who have rejected the Qur’an’s wisdom remain locked in the struggle to overcome the self that incites to evil. In view of this one hopes that even at this late hour, were men able to heed the Promised Messiah’s(as) important message of peace then the next two periods of progress would arrive sooner rather than later, thus enabling us to witness the benefits of the reproving self and the soul at rest. If, however, the message is ignored then in our age of technical and scientific advancement one shudders to think of the catastrophic consequences that will inevitably arise and the holocausts that lie in wait for us all. Fareed Ahmad – UK 4 EDITORIAL COMMENT The Review of Religions – February 2007