Race Conversation

A more perfect union imperative

Are Christians and Muslims at War???

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For more than a decade, events in the Middle East have dominated American foreign policy and news media programming. Current events in the region has animated the world and portends a global conflagration that some equate with ancient bible end of days prophesy. In this context the expanding war in Middle East, North Africa and Nigeria is being positioned in some quarters as being between Christianity and Islam. In our conversation about these unfolding events we hope to generate some perspective and understanding regarding competing interests and dynamics in the region.

The impetus of this dynamic situation according to many was the “Arab Spring” which began in Tunisia in 2011, and it spread to other countries. The “Arab Spring” emerged in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, etc. The Arab Spring in Tunisia developed into a best case scenario as democratic and economic reforms were established and the country is currently experiencing a prosperous trajectory. On the other hand the governments in other countries repressed the “Arab Spring” with dubious results. For example, in Egypt the military component re-emerged and the democratically elected president was deposed in a coup. Indigenous revolutionaries deposed the government in Yemen, and it is now called a failed state. The United States, et al, invaded Iraq and Libya deposing their respective leaders, but Arab revolutionaries in the neighborhood has successfully challenged the western geo-political design…

The “Islamic State” and ISIL are the latest incarnation of the Arab Spring revolutionaries together with the Syrian anti-government forces and Iraqi anti-American forces have taken over much of the real estate in Syria and Iraq. These extremist Sunni-Muslim forces are expending and grabbing territory in the Middle East, and are networking with other extremists in North Africa, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria. In the United States and the western world, this escalating Asymmetrical warfare is being portrayed as a war of Islam against America and the west by some, while others posit that it is a war between Christianity and Islam that, and that war is inevitable… Still others resist the notion of a war between Christianity and Islam, and offer nuanced assessments and analysis. Our conversation will offer context and historical perspective to this perplexing conundrum…

From the outset, we need to appreciate that the Middle East, such as the borders and countries that exist today, were determined by the British and French following WWI, with the United States playing a supportive role. Palestine was than a protectorate of the British under the Belfour Declaration and was not yet partitioned to accommodate the State of Israel. The British also established a formal supportive relationship with the House of Saud, and the Kingdom Saudi Arabia. The French controlled Syria and its contiguous lands. During WWI, the Ottoman Empire controlled much of the Middle East region, and as an ally of Germany, the Ottoman Empire lost it real estate holdings in the Middle East as America, British and French were the unequivocal victors of WWI. The famous “Lawrence of Arabia” on behalf of the British was the interlocutor that was critical to establishing the hegemony of Saud in the region. British forces and the French Foreign Legion document their colorful history in the Middle East.

In addition to the Belfour Declaration, and the establishment of Saudi Arabia’s hegemony in the region, the countries of Iraq and Iran are central to the dynamic in the Middle East that should not be understated and underestimated. Iran was formally known as the Persian Empire, while Iraq is the former Mesopotamia and both countries enjoy an ancient and consequential history of 5000 years plus. On the contrary the longevity of the United States and Europe is dwarfed by that of Persia and Mesopotamia. The significance of this distinction should not be underestimated, going forward. The contemporary boundaries and political facts on the ground in the Middle East are imposed and enforced by America and the west has existed for 100 years and the boundaries seem now to be melting down currently. The one hundred year design of the Middle East is melting down because the established allies of the western powers with its strong man rule is passé as the populations directly impacted by these autocratic and repressive rule are in revolt, and the region is virtually at war. The so-called “Islamic State” is headquartered in Syria and the traditional borders that distinguishes Syria from Iraq, is none existent as a practical matter. The fighting forces of ISIS currently hold a large swath of territory that overlaps both countries. The military forces of ISIS in Syria and Iraq are engaged in a war with reportedly a coalition of 50 odd countries under the leadership of America and the west, and they seem to be holding their own. Moreover, the ISIS brand of terrorism is being franchised as other extremist Muslim groups in other countries are pledging allegiance to the ISIS objective, and Asymmetrical warfare operatives of various strips are targeting the homelands in America and Europe.

Is ISIS at war with America and the west? Is the often referenced war between Christianity and Islam what’s up in the Middle East? Alternatively, are there other different and compelling narratives? Is there a persuasive argument beyond the western conventional geo-political wisdom?

If we extrapolate from the “Arab Spring” we observe that the indigenous populations in the respective Arab countries it is clear that there is chasm between the strong arm, monarchal ruling class and the local populations. This chasm can be characterized by economic disenfranchisement and lack of opportunities, education, and lack of a health and social service infrastructure. Hence, for the past 100 years the ruling super class of western impacted countries of the Middle East have alienated and deprived their indigenous population.  ISIS as an outgrowth of organic revolutionary forces have noted the legacy of the super ruling class and they (ISIS) are diametrically opposed to the century old ruling paradigm that is enabled and supported by America and Western powers. Specifically, the “emerging Islamic State” wants to remove America and the west from the region and to destroy their economic and geo-political hegemony. In this context the forces of ISIS are seeking to remove the Arab allies of the west from control of Middle East countries that comprise the status quo in the region.

Therefore, the primary objective of ISIS is to reclaim control of the region from despotic Arab leaders that rule target countries in the Middle East who are political clients of America and the west. Consequently, a cogent political argument can be made that the primary military objective of the so-called Islamic State is to remove and destroy the control of America and the west enjoy, by way of their client leadership on the ground. Hence, the “Islamic State” is not at war with America, et al, their objective is to control their own piece of ground. The question as to whether the “Islamic State” envisages that they are precipitating a war between Christianity and Islam is a fair question that begs exploration, and response. There are several moving parts to this question therefore we will endeavor to examine the various moving parts associated with the question. The first moving part to be examined is, to what extent does ISIS or ISIL, if you will, represent the religion of Islam? This relevant question is perhaps the most fundamental moving part.

It is clear that the “Islamic State” is comprised of Sunni-Muslim extremist a sect of Sunni Islam, and there are many other sects that constitute world Islam. Unfortunately the House of Saud, the Sunni Muslim hegemonic power in the region for the past 100 has been in a tricky relationship with the West, Israel and oil. The “Islamic State” and their military initiative is an Arab phenomenon, and their religious theology is a sect of Sunni-Islam. The ruling elite of the target countries in the region supported by the west are all Sunni Muslims. For example, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are Sunni Muslims countries. Obviously, ISIS murders many Muslims including Sunni’s, therefore, the forces of ISIS murder Muslims, Christians and others without discrimination. Therefore, ISIS represents an extremist sect of Sunni-Islam, and Sunni Islam is but one tradition of Islam.

While Sunni-Islam is a well established sect of the religion, there exist a fundamental juxtaposition between Sunni Islam and Shea Islam. The Sunni vs. Shea juxtaposition is an ancient schism that occurred following the death of the prophet Muhammad. The controversy is based on the nature of succession which presented a dichotomy between those that held that the successor must be a blood relative and those that support the alternative position.  Hence, following the passing of Prophet Muhammad a schism in Islam occurred that divided Sunni and Shea. This dichotomy continues to animate and dominate the internal dynamic of the Islamic faith. Despite this ancient sectarian internal dynamic Islam spread throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. Moreover, in addition to the proliferation of the theology of Islam around the world, there was a concomitant conquering of territories and countries.

Interestingly enough, the growth, development a conquests by the forces of Islam occurred within the footprint of the Roman Empire which heretofore, was the occupying power in the Middle East during the period. Nevertheless, following the advent of Islam, Arab Muslims reclaimed their indigenous territory, and conquered Egypt and the country became Arabic ethnically. Also, in the 8th century, the forces of Islam by way of North Africa (Hannibal), conquered Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and they subsequently invaded and conquered Spain and ruled it for 700 years until 1492, when Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in conjunction with the papacy regained control of Spain.

Therefore, from the 8th century to the 15th century Islam and Christianity represented the powers in control of the known world, as the church and state were one in the same. As a practical matter, there was no separation between church and state in the western world at this time. Separation of church and state was ushered in following the Protestant Reformation 5 centuries ago. When Charlemagne became the Emperor of Rome in the 800’s he formally declared himself as Emperor of the “Holy Roman Empire.” During this period Christendom in the West and Islam, by way of the Arabs, North Africans and the Ottoman Empire, competing for relative economic and political domination in target countries in region of the world. Secular government and the separation between church and state occurred in Europe in the 1600’s following the Protestant Reformation. Accordingly, separation of church and state, and secular government has existed in the western world for the past 500. During this period western hegemony of the trade routs, economics and geo-political control was consolidated in the Middle East, and other pertinent regions.

Consequently, there is a relevant back story and context to the current events that are unfolding in the world today. The back story articulates the dynamic role that Christianity (Protestantism) played under the umbrella of secular western government as they pursued the economic, strategic and geo-political objectives. From the 1600’s to the present, secular governments of Western Europe and the United States emerged and the concept of separation between church and state became the standard of modern civilization along with the elective process. During the 500 intervening years the European and American constitutional paradigm coupled with global industrial development ultimately dominated international trade routes, economic, military advancement and geo-politics.

Since the Christian Reformation in the west, Protestant Europe expanded and grew exponentially and ultimately gave birth to the United States of America in 1776. At the end of the day Catholics and Protestants embraced each other under the umbrella of religious tolerance and cooperated despite their perennial rivalries for the purpose of world domination. Although the rivalries among respective European powers continued to be colorful and provocative, Europeans cooperated in order to achieve their collective economic and geo-political objectives. Also, during the intervening centuries the religion of Islam grew in popularity to the extent that both Christianity and Islam share the approximately 3 billion adherents in the world. It is important to note that Arab Muslims represents a small minority of the faithful because other ethnic groups have outpaced the growth in the Arab world by far.Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country as they outnumber all the Arab Muslims in the Gulf States put together. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey has significant Muslim populations, and according to recent reports, Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. In short, Islam is in fact a major religion in the world.

But the perception persists that Christianity and Islam are at war, notwithstanding myriad arguments to the contrary. The fact remains that there are compelling and persuasive arguments that are advanced on both sides of the issue. With this dichotomy in view, we will reference some points that are generally not mentioned in the framework of one position or the other. We’re going to examine the perception that there is a war between Christianity and Islam by way of exploring the origin and overlapping aspects of these two religions. There is a symbiosis and familial component that connects Christianity and Islam that must not be overlooked or made light of as we consider them. There exists a theological as well as a familial connection between Christianity and Islam because both faiths are monotheistic religions that acknowledge the same origin in the framework of their acknowledged patriarch, the Prophet Abraham.

As a matter of fact there are three religions of Abraham, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and they represent a historical procession with Islam being the youngest of the three religions having its advent in the 7th century by way of the Prophet Muhammad. The Quran, Islam’s holy book, acknowledges its origins in terms of the patriarch and the assertion that Moses, and Jesus are Prophets that preceded the advent of Islam. Additionally the Quran holds Mary the mother of Jesus in high esteem and the Muslim holy book also mentions the union between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon which is also recorded in 1 Kings of the Old Testament. Hence, stories in the Quran and the Bible reference similar prophets, characters, stories, and scenarios. Moreover, while the Quran was reportedly revealed to Muhammad by God, it was the arch angel Gabriel who was the intermediary between God and Muhammad that facilitated the Quran’s revelation to Muhammad.

These various points are salient factors that confirm the fundamental connection and overlap that characterizes the unequivocal connections between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. More particularly, Abraham had two sons one was Isaac whose familial line established Christianity, and there is Ishmael, the other son of Abraham whose familial line established Islam… Consequently, if there is a war between Christianity and Islam, the founding and heritage of both religions indicate that the war is a family affair. But the family internal dynamic is rooted in Judaic theology as represented by Cain and Able, the sons of Adam and Eve. The back story relative to the religions of Abraham (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) is replete with the familial dynamic. Interestingly enough, the family dynamic is established by the findings of current science which confirms that human beings represent one race, only. This singular finding and observation by religion and science has far reaching implications as it relates to human nature, and man’s inhumanity to man… Perhaps human nature such as it is, represents the fundamental problem and not the so-called war between Christianity and Islam.

Unfortunately, the level human nature such as it is, coupled with subjective objectives associated with the promotion of revisionist religious and secular history continues to obscure salient historical facts. Much of the historical revisionism has airbrushed critical and inconvenient information out of the conventional popular narrative. But as a practical matter human nature may be the smoking gun that has compromised the truth and colored the political facts on the ground that the majority of us consume and regurgitate. Accordingly, I’m never comfortable signing on to conventional wisdom and popular narrative associated the status quo and unfolding current events in the world. It is not difficult for me to imagine the relative issues that formulate the foreign policy of America, et al, which is based on the argument of safeguarding and protecting their economic and strategic interest in the region. Therefore, I’m not surprised by the various presentations justifying the presence of the west in the region.

On the other hand, the indigenous populations in the target countries apparently have a legitimate grievance with their local rulers based on a century of repression, and economic and political disenfranchisement. The disenfranchised are challenging their rulers, who are enabled by western allies, and who are Sunni Muslims. The Islamic State is comprised of local and organic Sunni-extremists that are prepared to radically change the political facts in the ground in their respective neighborhood. In short, ISIS is Sunni-extremist Muslims and their mandate is rid their country of western assets, including the ruling Sunni Muslim super class. Hence, ISIS represents the unfolding internal dynamic within Sunni Islam in particular and world Islam in general. The United States and the western powers would be well advised not to fall into the quagmire of sectarian stiff which is the current state of Islam. Apparently, the west understands that they should not put military boots on the ground and be perceived as occupiers in foreign countries safeguarding and protecting their economic and strategic position.

It is worthy of note that the ruling super class are reluctant at best to put their army boots on the ground which may suggest that the rulers are wary of potential organic feedback which would ultimately position the ruling elite as assets of western imperialism. The religions of Abraham enjoy a very interesting history of reformation, which is well documented in Judaic and Christian history. The history of Christianity in the west in particular is based on the Protestant Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church, after about 1400 years. Subsequently, denominational Christianity has proliferated in the west, and new Protestant denominations continue to emerge. It has been about 1400 years since the advent of Islam, the most recent of the religions of Abraham, and we suspect that the current internal dynamic in Islam may ultimately lead to a fundamental reformation. Reformation is the only option to remediate the primordial schism between Sunni and Shea Islam.

The Sunni and Shea dichotomy also has an ethnic and culture dynamic in that Sunni Muslims in the Middle East are predominantly Arab, while the Shea Muslims in the region are Persian. In this context Sunni Muslims (Arabs) in Saudi Arabia and Shea Muslims (Persian) Iran are the two toughest big boys in the neighborhood and at the end of the day the toughest big boys in the neighborhood must work out the future.

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Written by gjamescadreusa

March 15, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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