Friday, August 1, 2008

It's a crisis…

We live in a changing world, and it's getting smaller, more and more, day by day. Still, despite our greater interaction, there are people who don't understand that the only way we can all live with together in this world is summed up in one single word "coexistence".

When I take a brief look at the state of the world nowadays, I find that it's torn apart by wars and conflicts, most of whom are – sadly – based on ideological grounds. So the question I ask is, why?

Now, this might seem like a simple question with an easy answer, but below the surface, it is anything but that. Embedded deeply in our subconscious is the belief that all that is different from what we are is wrong - not just another perspective or concept, but simply wrong. And based on this reason, we find that people are obsessed with the idea of a 'war of civilizations' or a war of cultures and religions.

As a Palestinian and a Muslim, I really do not have a problem with Jews as Jews – contrary to what some might claim - and I don't see the conflict as a religious war against Jews. But I do have a problem with the Israeli practices on my land. I have a problem with the concept of taking over my land and kicking away its people in the name of a religion. I also have a problem with killing people in the name of religion, imprisoning people in the name of religion. That I do have a problem with.

For you to understand why I think this, and for me to prove my point, we have to go back all the way to the year of 1897 when the idea of establishing a national state for the Jews of the world was first agreed upon. Look back at this year and remember that by then there had been no World War, there had been no Nazi Holocaust!

And more, Palestine was not the only country suggested for this national state only for Jews, Uganda and Argentina were also considered. So then why Palestine? In order to convince the Jews of the world to leave everything behind and start all over somewhere else, you have to give a good reason. And what better of a reason than playing the card of religion!

Why were the crusades fought under the name of the cross? Why are people being killed in the name of Islam? Who has the right to manipulate people's minds using the words of the maker or the Holy texts of a certain religion? That is our problem. Sick minded people who interpret their own religion in the way that suits their needs.

This is a plea I make to the pure hearts all over the world: 'Keep religions away from politics.' No matter what you believe in, whether it is a religion or not. No matter what you choose to name your maker, no matter how you choose to worship; we all agree that there is a common good, we all believe that there is something just, we all agree on what is beautiful.

All the religious differences people have in this world are nothing but a cloak of semantics. Religion is the cover under which soldiers are sent around the world to kill another human being just like them. Look at the way Bush tells his soldiers the people they are attacking are 'evil 'and do not have God on their side (well, not his Christian God anyway). And the way the media only focuses on 'Islamist terrorism' as if this is the only religion being used to justify a conflict – what about the terrorizing of people in the name of Judaism back in 1948 and until now?

So let's all shed our masks and take a good look at one another: we will see all that we have in common and build on it, for the benefit of you, me and everybody else.

I would like to conclude with this wise saying and ask you to please notice the date when it was told. Is it not a shame that we, as the same human race that lived 2,000 years ago, have not yet reached this point?

" One should not honour only one's own religion and condemn the religions of others, but one should honour others' religions for this or that reason. So doing, one helps one's own religion to grow and renders service to the religions of others too. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one's own religion and also does harm to other religions. Whosoever honours his own religion and condemns other religions, does so indeed through devotion to his own religion, thinking "I will glorify my own religion." But on the contrary, in so doing he injures his own religion more gravely. So concord is good: Let all listen, and be willing to listen to the doctrines professed by others. "

( Emperor Asoka of India, 3rd century B.C )

The old city of Nablus...