The Irony of Peace From the 3 Abrahamic Faiths – Holy Wars and Holy Books
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So is it insane to look for peace from the 3 contemporary Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam? Absolutely. Understanding that there are many sects within each Abrahamic faith, this article addresses the 3 Abrahamic faiths in general, due to the fact that it is their foundation and Holy Books that are being dealt with, not the specific actions of just one sect.
Raised as an Atheist when I was young, I became a non-denominational Christian for nearly 10 years – the second of the Abrahamic faiths. Not your “Sunday, go to church” Christian, but a very active researcher of the faith I had adopted as a young adult. Seeking to understand the text better, I learned some Latin, Koine Greek and Aramaic for the New Testament, before focusing on the Biblical Hebrew for the Tanak (Old Testament). This created more questions and resulted in textual comparison research, historical context studies. The end result was that I ditched the misogynistic, hate mongering writings of Paul (Christianity should be called Paulianity) for the Hebraic roots of the early origins of Christianity – the parent of the 3 faiths. Not making formal conversion to Rabbinic Judaism, I kept Torah, Shabbath and the biblical feasts. To many Jews, I was Ger – a convert. Over a decade was spent in pursuit of the wisdom and understanding of the Tanak, digging even further into the origins of Hebrew linguistics, utilizing the Talmud, the ancient Ugarit and Mesopotamian documents, and my favorite – archaeology, ancient writings systems and languages. The first of the Abrahamic faiths did not work out any better than Christianity. Same song, different accent. I had no need to try out Islam, the third Abrahamic faith, having already researched Islam and the Quran through my earlier studies. Not returning to Atheism, I pursue a spirituality akin to egalitarian Taoism, so readers will understand the following is not an Atheistic attack on religion in general.
All three Abrahamic faiths are actually newer offshoots of an older parent faith, which is warmongering and violent in its foundation – patriarchal Indo-Europeanism (Abraham was Indo-European Amurru/Amorite and Sarah was Indo-European Hittite). Understanding the characteristics of the patriarchal (patriarchal does not = all men) Indo-European culture is what led me out of these religions, to real peace. I was no longer subject to the fearmongering rules of the religious “Holy Books” of these faiths, which are founded on racism, elitism, superiority, not to mention extreme misogyny, with their resulting Holy Wars. While it may not be “politically correct” to address these religious issues in our current climate of political and religious tensions, I feel it all the more necessary and ethical to do so. Like they say in the self help groups, the first step is admitting you have a problem. We have Abrahamic Holy War problems.
Currently, we have propaganda films being produced by opposing religious groups, such as the Christian promoted anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims, produced by Sam Bacile (Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian born Coptic Christian – there is now a bounty on his head 1 ). As a result al-Gama'a al-Islamiya stated they would form a new movement that would focus on pro-Muhammed films that were anti-Zionist and anti-Christian 2. An anti-Semitic Iranian film, Saturday Hunter, depicts a Jewish father and son that murder Arabs for their land and money 3. Paul Verhoeven's book, Jesus of Nazareth, has found financial backing and will be filmed, which portrays Jesus as the product of a Roman soldier rape 4. This is sure to inflame Christians who were enraged and became violent at The Last Temptation of Christ as well as all the recent Christian “real rape” advocates. By their own logic, Mary would have “wanted it.”
So let's take off the rose colored glasses and political correctness and really look at these 3 Abrahamic faiths and their “Holy Books” that claim they are of peace and see if it is just political bullshit or not.
To the Rabbinic Jews, the Tanak 5 and the Talmud 6 are their Holy Books. Within the Tanak, there is a segregation of us against them – Hebrews against the Goy (everyone who isn't Hebrew or a convert/Ger). BeMidbar (Numbers) 33:51-53, 55, “ 'Speak to the sons of Yisrael, and say to them, “When you are passing over the Yarden (Jordan), to the land of Kenaan (Canaan), then you will dispossess all the inhabitants of the land, and live in it, for to you I have given the land, to possess it.” “And if you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it will be, those whom you let remain of them, for pricks in your eyes, and for thorns in your sides, and they will distress you in the land in which you are living. “ ' “ Depending on the context, there are a wide variety of specific “others”, such as wicked, unrighteous, unclean, defiled, idolaters, etc. In the Talmud, one of the Post Biblical Hebrew terms for the heretical “others” is miniym, equated with deception and generally applied to Jews that became Christians.
Those familiar with the Jewish Holy War issue watch the current situation with the Palestinians. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, in Israel, has called for this “Holy War” against the Palestinians, in a publication passed to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) just before an offensive against the Palestinians, “ '[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it.' " Another flyer distributed to the IDF, associated with the students of Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, advocated, " 'soldiers of Israel to spare your lives and the lives of your friends and not to show concern for a population that surrounds us and harms us. We call on you ... to function according to the law “kill the one who comes to kill you.” As for the population, it is not innocent ... We call on you to ignore any strange doctrines and orders that confuse the logical way of fighting the enemy.' " - HaAretz 8. This is Melchemet Mitzvah. A growing concern with the IDF, is the rising number of what some term “religious extremists” 9. The truth of the matter is, this is simply part of their Holy Books and they are actually acting on them, according to their faith.
Though a wee bit newer on the world scene (1st century CE/Common Era), Christianity is founded on the same patriarchal Indo-European system of the Hebraic faith. Though most of the misogyny, racism, and exclusion are primarily found in Paul's letters to the assemblies, it is these principles that are generally upheld by churches, plus some hatemongering additions of their own. For the Christians, the Holy Book is the Bible (the Book), often called the Scriptures. It comprises the Old Testament (Hebrew Tanak) and the New Testament. Many Christians ignore most of the Old Testament, viewing it “old/dead” and prefer to focus on the New Testament. And of the New Testament, though believing that Jesus is the son of God (the Hebrew God), they still predominately quote and adhere to the later writings of Paul. While many sing Christmas songs about peace on earth, Yahusha / Jesus said he did not come to bring peace, but a sword, Matthew 10:34-36, “Expect not that I came to send forth peace on the earth; I have not come to send forth peace, but a sword. For I have come to cause a man to separate from his father, and a daughter from her mother, and a daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law; and the adversaries of a man will be his own houses sons.” - Peshitta New Testament. While Yahusha did not advocate radical physical violence, he sure advocated a major revolution among the established religious sects of the time. Awesome teacher that gets whitewashed by the Christian brush.
As I mentioned earlier, the hatemongering and elitism is a product of Paul, also known as Shaul. His roots are in Rabbinic Judaism, which are reflected in writings letters. The “us against them” passages are phrased as the “Sons of Light and the day, against the darkness and night” - I Thess. 5:5,6; or 2 Cor. 6:14-18, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' 'Therefore come out from them and be separate', says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters', says the Lord Almighty.” - NIV. This is just a very small sampling of the elitism.
Paul doesn't stop with elitism and hatemongering, he adopts the popular Mithrasism of the day (another patriarchal Indo-European religion) and the dominant warfare language associated with it, which is especially found in Ephesians 6:10-18, telling “believers” to, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Then you have the End Times battle book of Revelations, which also uses warfare terminology for the last days. Now here is the big question. If this is such a peaceful religion, why is there so much warfare terminology and association? Why not avoid it altogether, instead of saying it is “just spiritual”. The fact is, it is the foundation and true motivations of the faith.
Now, let's take a look at the physical battle applications of Christians. When Christians have gone to physical war against the “unbelievers”, the battles have involved the sign of execution – the cross. The word Crusade comes from Middle Latin cruciata, of cruciare - to mark with a cross, from Latin crux "cross”. The Crusades were not about peace or a spiritual war, they were about what they have always been about, resources and land. All the better when you have a major money making pilgrimage site located on that land. So it is no surprise when the western European “Crusaders” went to war against the “unbelieving pagans and heretics”, that they killed anyone they could not understand or looked different from them, which included Byzantine and Middle Eastern Christians. A current example is Keith Olbermann's report on Blackwater's Christian Crusaders in the Iraqi war. 10 For a religious system, that many of its believers will say is just a “spiritual battle”, their actual bloody religious history, regardless of denominations, would fill volumes, not just a book. These volumes would document the Christian practice of murdering the “unbelieving others”, as well as forced conversions and expulsions of the Jews and Muslims.
This leaves us with the third of the Abrahamic faiths. Islam had a later start (7th century CE) than Christianity, but the roots are still the patriarchal Indo-European Hebraic faith. Islam traces its decent through the other sons of Abraham, through wives/consorts, Hagar and Keturah. Muhammad taught that he was a prophet of Allah (the God of Abraham). This was not received by the pre-Islamic religious centers of Mecca and Medina. He and his growing followers were originally persecuted, which led to bloody battles for the money making pilgrimage sites, one of which, his tribe the Quraysh, were guardians of the cultic center of Mecca where the meteorite stone that represented the goddess Al Uzzah/ Allat resided. People were either killed or forced to convert to the faith of Islam, which ironically is named from the Semitic root salem/salam, with one meaning of peace. The pilgrimage site was then dedicated to the male monotheistic god, Allah, of Islam.
The Holy Book of Islam is the Quran, which means the “recitation”, because the earliest followers recited the words that Muhammad said came directly from Allah/God. This Holy Book, also has the patriarchal Indo-European religious, elitist view of “us against them”. In the Quran, Surah 9.5 (At-Tawbah), we see the oft quoted passage that freaks out the Christians in the US, “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists/pagans (mushirk) wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. ” 11. Mushirk means a person who does “shirk”; shirk being idolatry, polytheism, as opposed to the male monotheism of Islam. Surah 5:51 shows that Jews and Christians are not to be viewed as allies, “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you - then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.” 12.
In Islam, the Holy War is called jihad, short for a phrase, “al-jihad fi sabil Allah” – struggling in the cause of Allah. Islamic history is filled, with the same murders of the unbelievers, as well as the forced conversions and expulsions that Judaism and Christianity have partaken of. One major example involves the little known slave trade of Africa by Muslims. When African tribes, along coastal trade routes, learned that Islam could not enslave “a brother in Islam”, mass conversions to Islam occurred to prevent capture and enslavement. 13 This slavery of other faiths continues to this day within the Islamic world, with reports of Coptic Christian girls being abducted and sold into slavery, as well as Somalian women in Libya.
While many who practice these Abrahamic faiths view themselves as peaceful and even look at their faiths as being one of “peace”, their books and history speak otherwise. When these faiths are added to a military perspective, it becomes even more dangerous. "When soldiers, including secular ones, are imbued with theological ideas, it makes them less sensitive to human rights or the suffering of the other side." - Dr. Yigdal Levy, Is Israel's Army Waging a Jewish Jihad? 14 Our media is labeling these active participants of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as “extremists”, but the reality is, that these people are simply following their Holy Books. They are not “extreme” according to each of their faiths, they are the “faithful”. They view all other believers as being passive, half hearted, lukewarm. In the book of Revelations 3:15,16, of the Christian New Testament, speaking to the assembly of Laodicea, it says, “ 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.' ” - NIV. The terrifying realization, is that the more threatened each of these groups become, the more violently they respond.
Do you ever hear of warring groups of Buddhist monks or “extremist” Taoists, or radical Hopi? No. And the reason is that they are not a patriarchal Indo-European religion based on elitism, hate and warmongering. They, as other non-patriarchal Indo-European faiths, are actually based on egalitarianism, peace and respect for others. How many more thousands of years are we going to look for peace amongst these faiths that are not really founded on peace? I say that we stop the insanity of looking for peace from the patriarchal Indo-European religions and call them out on their hate and warmongering; admit the violent foundation of the Abrahamic faiths and stop treating them like they have a “political correctness” free pass.
5 Acronym formed fromTorah/Law, Nebim/Prophets and Kethubim/Writings
6 Oral Torah
7 Josephus, Antiquities, 13.9.1 http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/ant-13.htm