Language changes, we know this. Yet, when discerning meaning from another time, one often suspends personal judgment and defers to linguists, anthropologists or other ‘scholars’ of a particular field; they’re the experts right? Never have been for me. Even the most studied in their field disagree with their peers. Information considered finite can always change with exploration and discovery. If it goes unchallenged, then people just accept what they are told vs. the way things really are or were. This Disinformation, is the Whisper.
Islam has been described as the Religion of the Warrior and that’s not too far off base. One can believe in a thing so vehemently that when faced with an opposing view it’s akin to doing battle with it. I have several copies of the Qur’an because (like all holy books) you can’t really cast judgment based on a single interpretation. In the first chapters the context for the Believer, Non-Believer and Dis-Believer are set; across all versions. Ideally, when you read further on, this would be kept in mind but it’s often forgotten and it’s easy to forget. This is apparent to me by the disagreement over terms. Qatal, is but one example of this. Transliteration can be problematic if from the start you miss the syntax of the text to be interpreted. Linguists and Grammarians argue continuously over the context and tense of expression. To slay? To Kill? To Slaughter? Is it a narration? For rumination? Bottom line: TO STOP.
I came across The Qur’an’s Verses of Violence by happenstance upon a cursory search for a particular verse in order to cite a chapter for this blog. It got me re-thinking the angle. When you mute all the noise of what others have to say about the Qur’an and just read the damn thing, you may draw very different conclusions. Perhaps unlike my own. The thing that stuck out to me reading the first two chapters was it was much like the Exodus of the Judaeo-Christian grammar. Exodus 22:18 is what? A piece of advice? Narrative? The debate whether the original Semitic language intended Witch, Sorcery, or Poisoner continues but regardless of the carrier, the message is clear. “Beware of those that whisper in your ear”. Not much different than the message in the Qur’an about the Dis-Believer. As I mentioned, the context is sorted out in the first couple of chapters. How the Believer deals, depends on his underlying motivation.
These terms mean very different things and the contextual basis matters, if one is interested in getting the message. The difference between a Dis-Believer and Non-Believer is made clear. The Dis-Believer was once a Believer and for whatever reason, no longer believes but more importantly, makes efforts to sway the Believers. Call them Infadels, Witches, Sorcerers, or Whisperers if you must but the message is clear.
Just about every religion in the world has a piece of advice on how to deal with these people. Whether taken literally or metaphorically is up to the individual. This is the case for every adherent that has taken matters to flesh. The idea is to put a stop to the whispering. To stop the sway and influence and take the Believer further away from his kingdom of God. The Believer takes up the sword, literally. Whether by act of flesh or thought.
Anton LaVey (taking cues from other tomes), added his own rendition of it in his Satanic Statements when he speaks on people that bother you, or try to suck the life out of you psychically. Those that would otherwise have sway:
#3) If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
#4) When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.
When people speak about Islam being a Religion of Peace, that’s the underlying goal to those that seek spiritual contentment. To be at peace within oneself and with the world. Building the Kingdom of God, within. Those that see it as a Religion of Violence, it’s a method by which to do battle with the Dis-Believer. The Non-Believer is fair game. All it takes is the right amount of Sway.
7 years ago I had written an article for a publication about the Oil Crisis in conjunction to a desired World Peace. World Peace? I thought, What the hell is that and why would anyone want it? How does one attain it? My focus was conflict, a double-edged sword in the battle of modernization and world economy. How could there ever be peace, when the fight is both inside and out? When the point of origin is a culture of corruption?
The editor was involved in inter-faithing, peace talks and cooperative efforts with others of differing beliefs, provided they shared the same Ethos. There I am, on the opposite end of the spectrum. I was often called confrontational, too challenging, too passionate, argumentative, rude, and a bunch of other adjectives to describe what I was actually doing. Questioning the underlying motives (Pathos). Two years prior, she was preparing a speech for a music festival centered on finding common ground through musical expression. I had been needling her for weeks with the same questions, “What does peace look like?”, “What does peace feel like?”, “What does peace sound like?” “How would you recognize peace if you saw it?” She wrote her speech and spoke on the subject to the best of her abilities in contrast to what others were seeking in peace.
To me, it was just an activity that people seek out when they see the world the way it really is and believe they can be an active force in changing it to the way they want it to be. In the case of those that do battle, I don’t know that it’s always religious brainwashing. That’s too convenient a scapegoat. Underneath the Religious Aesthetic is discontent. Plenty of people from all walks of life, are not content with the way things are. The conflict starts within and resonates outward.
I’ve interacted with Muslims over the years and there are differences between the culturally born and those that convert. People that aren’t born with a shared culture or heritage are going to miss a lot of context when reading the Qur’an. There will be an Ethos that simply isn’t shared. How could it be? Even the most diligent researcher can only observe from the opposite side of the glass. Equally, the culturally born can only make efforts to understand the reasons for converting and the allure to an outsider. While many are embraced as brethren of the same cloth, others reject but learn to use them as pawns in the bigger game.
A good example of this is U.S. prison culture which churns out Islamic converts by the hundreds. An associate of mine did a 7 year stint and converted on the inside. His Ethos changed because there were certain protections, privileges and a social order he’d be made part of. He wasn’t doing so hot on his own. His circumstances improved upon conversion and even more so when he became an Imam. The group benefits by strength in numbers. Once he was out, he was holding strong to his new found beliefs but still hung on to those he had before he went in. The two were often in conflict and he struggled with it. That struggle projects outward, “As above, So below. From within, So without” and it puts you at odds with those close to you. Battle with the whisperer isn’t just on the outside but inside as well reminding him of who he once was.
Conflict changes you but there’s still static core parts that are immovable. Forged long ago, the Wisdom of Steel, contrived by the riddle. To say that Islam itself is a religion of violence isn’t accurate in my world view. It’s just another vehicle for the violent. Peaceful Muslims were already at peace. Just as the Radicals were already radicals. Islam then becomes the vehicle by which it’s expressed for better or worse.
Just as Satanists are born, not made.
It accounts for the suicide bomber, those killed after an act of terrorism and the detained will find their pointy reckoning by other means but never in peace.
Its undoing, can only be in death.