Terrorism and Extremism

Notes and Comment

4 The Review of Religions – May 2003 True or False? In far gone antiquity Aeschylus (525-456 B.C) stated that, “Truth is the first casualty of war. ” Perhaps he should have added that the second casualty is justice, because without truth there can be no justice. This is what was evident in the recent war on Iraq in which the boundaries between truth and falsehood were being deliberately manipulated to allow the end to justify the means without any regard to the broader application of justice and in re t rospect manipulated some- what primitively by the underdog. Such injustice has also been mentioned in the Qur’an. It states: O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not the enmity of a people incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you d0. (The Holy Qur’an Ch5: V9) This verse applies to humanity at l a rge: it is not just for the edification of Muslims only. It advocates that human relations on the personal level as well as the international level should be governed by the demands of justice. Bearing witness in equity is an essential part of the system of justice. This is what was completely lacking in the events surrounding the recent war on Iraq. Justice was being ignored and replaced by other motives. On this subject the Qur’an goes further and explains quite clearly the consequences of both just and unjust actions. For those who believe and do good deeds adhering to the advice of this verse God promises in verse 5:10 forgiveness and a great reward. But for those who reject the advice given, verse 5:11 states: And as for those who disbelieve and reject Our signs [or directions], they are the people of Hell. (ashaabul jaheem). (Ch5: V11) Notes & Comments The words ashaabul jaheem c o u l d be translated as ‘the friends or companions of hell.’ So, those who act against the dictates of justice a re inviting us, it would seem, to a hell that is like a friend to them. Hell as an abode of Satan seems to symbolise a place of disord e r, a n a rchy and chaos and as a place of fire, and modern day war would be a good symbol for it. This teaching of acting with justice seems to be embedded in human nature and this was the instinct that prompted people to rise up in protest against what they perceived to be an unjust war (indeed true religion is one based on the nature created by God—deen e fitrat.). Even though the majority disliked Saddam Hussein’s regime, they clearly took a stand along the maxim of the Qur’an, ‘let not the enmity of a people incite you to act otherwise than with justice.’ H o w e v e r, to counteract this a huge public relations exerc i s e was carried out using the mass- media machines to convince the public of the need for this war. The propaganda to hide or cloud the facts was intense and it seemed to focus on depriving people of the truth – for without truth there can be no justice. One naturally expects the free to be totally independent. However, the loss of independence and honest reporting of the US media has been de-cried by many who have worked in that industry. David McGowan accords with many in his introduction to Derailing Democracy when he states that: ‘Following the same course that virtually every other major industry has in the last two decades, a re l e n t l e s s series of mergers and cor- porate take-overs has consolidated control of the media into the hands of a few corporate behemoths. The result has been that an i n c reasingly authoritarian agenda has been sold to the American people by a mas- sive, multi-tentacled media machine that has become, for all intents and purposes, a p ropaganda organ of the state.’ Being starved of the truth, it is impossible to arrive at just 5The Review of Religions –May 2003 Notes and Comments conclusions. This was high- lighted in Gore Vi d a l ’ s observation in The Decline and Fall of the American Empire and it still holds good: ‘The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so e n t i rely from its media all objectivity — much less dissent. Of course, it is possible for any citizen with time to spare, and a canny eye, to work out what is actually going on, but for the many there is not time, and the network news is the only news even though it may not be news at all but only a series of flashing fictions…’ With wrong information, wrong and unjust actions are allowed to take place and what is unfortunate is that one injustice inflames the fire of another and this vicious wheel seems to roll on endlessly before us, heaping suffering upon suffering. This is evident – when the principles of justice are cast aside then anarchy rules. The constant terro r i s m (state-sponsored or otherwise) is sadly an everyday occurre n c e and continues to promote distrust on all sides, for they all seem to have their ashaabul jaheem (friends of Hell). This does not mean that merely because there is injustice the aggrieved parties should resort to suicide bombers or sponsor terrorism. We need to get away from this concept that the end justifies the means and that might is right. So, is there any chance of bringing justice back to this world? It is an uphill task, but certainly the media have a key role in promoting truth and maintaining justice. Wi t h o u t honest and unbiased re p o r t i n g (bearing witness in equity) no true assessments can be made by the people, as what is true and what is false becomes virtually indistinguishable. Basit Ahmad– UK 6 The Review of Religions – May 2003 Notes and Comments