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Not in My God’s Name!

January 8, 2010

What is in a name?

The Alpha and the Omega apparently resides in the name Allah and it seems that even the use of the word Allah in its intended context – to refer to the supreme deity – is strictly reserved for Muslim rhetoric.

Recently a Malaysian court ruled in favour of The Herald (a Christian paper) in its appeal against the ban of the use of the ‘sacred’ word by non-Muslims to refer to their God. This decision soon invoked two petrol bomb attacks causing damage to churches. The attacks were later honoured by hackers who broke into the Malaysian judiciary’s website as well as The Herald’s website and proceeded to soil it with profanities. The hacker with the alias “Brainwash” – obviously the irony being completely lost on the individual – left threatening messages such as “Mess with the best, die like the rest.”

These highly visceral retaliations scream out the inanity of these kinds of people and the whole Islamic extremism ethos. We’ll excuse the glossed over hyper-violence present in the main holy books and accept that the major religions teach peace and understanding, to a degree, which then renders such recourse utterly contradictory to their supposed beliefs. However, what is particularly ridiculous about this affair is that these headstrong fools who resort to grievous violence seem painfully unaware that the word Allah is not a Muslim word. The word is the Arabic word for God , and many Arabic Jews and Christians do not have another word for God. The word preceded Islam itself; it simply refers to the metaphysical all powerful being, in a generic sense.

And besides, aren’t these major religions all worshipping the same God? None of them believe in different entities only different interpretations of the same God.

What is most worrying about events like these though is the unwarranted outrage that is triggered as a result of something so trivial. Violent indiscriminate attacks on people such as suicide bombing are a result of many contestable foreign policies by the West, though of course the motivations are constantly obfuscated by governments and the press alike. The lesser incidents, though still poignant, are more disproportionate and less justified. For instance, consider the whole Danish cartoon fiasco a few years back, it is understandable that any self respecting Muslim would be offended but to proceed with extremely violent discourse and burning of Danish embassies is insane. There are numerable instances over the globe where tentative decisions have been met with inordinate violence from Islamic extremists and these responses are very detrimental to relations with the Islamic people.

The subverted piousness of these perpetrators is unfortunately associated too closely with the otherwise peaceful element of Islam. There is no religious justification for such behaviour (no more so than in the Bible or Torah), and armed aggression towards a civilian is even meant to be a capital offense in Islam. As many of these violent events take place outside of Western culture they can’t all be blamed on Western Foreign Policy. Which then means that the atrocious actions are really due to a lack of education about what it is to be a Muslim but more importantly, how to be a temperate, understanding and empathetic individual. Just like football bares the stigma of football hooliganism, it isn’t football itself which causes violence; it’s simply the uneducated tools that see red after a game doesn’t go their way.

I don’t mean to reduce this issue to something like that of the football illiterati, nor do I mean to pick on extremists from Islam, but unlike other religions or ‘peoples’ Islam cannot afford to give itself any bad press; the ‘West’ stirs up enough bullshit about Islam as it is. While these extremists continue to behave in this kind of way it gives just the excuse some people are looking for to justify the attempted domination of Islamic nations by more “civilised” Western countries. Those oppressed and abused by Western force have little recourse for what they do, those who get offended by trivial things can enjoy a much larger platform for debate, let’s hope they use start using it before more Westerners buy into the idea of “collateral damage” and “spreading democracy”.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2010 3:36 pm

    “There is no religious or justification for such behavior (no more so than in the Bible or Torah)”
    Actually there is… it’s the first commandment (thou shal not take my name in vain), jews can’t even type it and lost the name that they used to call G-d so its hardly an “inane” issue.
    On the other hand the idea that there is a religion that is intrinsically peaceful is Bullshit and the over blown role of the “west” in its attempts to colonize the “islamic” world is BS as well …
    From where i stand the cause might be mainly due to the fragmentation of islamic thought and the nonpopularity of the governance which makes the allure of power and radicalization and revolutions all the more appealing and what a better way to convince others than to start from a common ground that is religion.
    Always been the case and always will be…

  2. January 13, 2010 6:22 pm

    I agree. I should have elaborated on the point that there is no religious justification. I was referring to the violent action toward civilains as having no religious justification and was also only contrasting any religious dictum to the mandates that other major religions propagate. Whilst recognising “thou shalt not take thy lords name in vein” as a potent commandment, breaking of this rule never warrants violence to be committed from one believer onto a blasphemer.

    I should have contextualised that better.

    Islam is fractured and now more than ever it needs to be united and it seems there are two very different types of agents of Islam. There are those who practice the religion as peacefully as other truly pious and decent religious folk, and then those who basically use it and misconstrue readings to create a violent, united front.

    Us Westerners unite behind ‘Freedom and Liberty’ and justify or keep ourselves ignorant of equally violent acts.

  3. shebsheb permalink
    March 29, 2010 1:15 pm

    I disagree with your view that Muslims are dominated by the West. Look at Saudi Arabia for instance, it has become a huge neo-colonial power, it has spread its influence as far as Indonesia and it has acquired land in Africa as well. What do you think of Saudi Arabia’s role in the spread of extremist ideology?

    • March 29, 2010 2:56 pm

      I never said that Muslims are dominated by the West. I said the West is attempting to dominate them. And they are massively dominated in the public awareness sphere with the oligarchy of the news outlets.

      • shebsheb permalink
        March 29, 2010 3:44 pm

        I would disagree with you there. Nations like Saudi Arabia have a huge PR industry and they hold stakes in the media outlets. The US attempts to dominate Europe as well. And Saudi Arabia attempts to dominate every Muslim country. So I think the equation is not as simple as the Western world attempting to dominate the Muslim world.

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