The role of religion in Cold War II
An Interactive Editorial*
By Hassan El-Najjar, Juan Bertucci, and Zafar Khan
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From my studies (I have a Christian background), I have known that "mandatory rituals" for Christians were not very different from those of Muslims, about 200 years ago. Christians had (still HAVE in certain places) to fast for Lent; they had to pray about 8 times a day (read about the "Books of the Hours") and women were forced to wear headscarfs, at least in church.
Christians felt as a part of a "Community" of Christians. Anyway, I condemn the intolerance of old Christian church, forcing conversions "by the Book and the sword" in eastern Europe and America, as well as forcing Muslims (Moors) and Jews out of Spain, ... etc.
Do you think Islam would "evolve" the way Christianity did? (the relaxation of certain behaviors can be seen as bad or good, it depends on the point of view).
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Allah ma'aq (God be with you). This is a phrase I learned from my Lebanese root.
The proper context to discuss your question and answer it is Cold War II and how religion fits there. The United States led the West during Cold War I (1945-1990) to defeat Communism. It did. The Soviet Union is gone and East European countries replaced socialism with capitalism. Eventually, they have been integrated (swallowed) by the Western capitalist machine. The direct cost of Cold War I of military spending to American tax payers was about $12.8 trillion. It was a bonanza for the military industrial complex, Israel, and the big financial institutions that financed the NATO military machine.
Of course the term, Cold War, may be misleading because there were real and horrible wars fought, particularly Korea, Vietnam, Arab-Israeli wars, and many smaller but not less savage wars around the globe. But this was the term used by the power elite media.
Preparations for launching Cold War II started even before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Iran was a target from the first day of its revolution, in 1979, and Iraq became the second target at the end of the Iran-Iraq war, in 1988. Many Cold War entrepreneurs worked diligently to replace Communists with Muslims for a new Cold War, so that their benefits would continue. I discussed this in detail in my book.(1)
They succeeded. The United States, the only remaining superpower, has been dragged to fight Arabs and Muslims in what can be accurately described as Cold War II. The objectives are three folds, controlling the world oil reserves, continuation of military spending in the US and the West on the Cold War level, and removing any threats to the Israeli military superiority in the middle East. These objectives reflect the interests of the tripartite alliance of the power elite that rules the United states right now, namely the military-industrial complex, the oil industry, and Israel.(2)
For such a horrific and multi-decade brutal war to be launched, Cold War II entrepreneurs started to write and speak about the Islamic threat. This started as early as 1988 and continued throughout the 1990s. The 1991 Gulf War and its consequences, the US military presence in Arabia and the resistance to it (terrorism) was a big relief for them. But September 11 attacks gave them the decisive excuse for the US invasion of the Muslim World (The US military is present now in all the Gulf states, central Asian states, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey).
It is in this context, Cold War entrepreneurs started to attack not only Muslims but also Islam itself as a religion. Even the Prophet himself became the subject of attacks. The objective has been to convince people that these Muslims are violent and terrorists because there is something wrong with the religion itself. The whole idea is obscuring the conflict so people would not ask the genuine question: Why are these people doing what they are doing? The elite and their Cold War entrepreneur agents have succeeded to a great extent so far to distract people from the fact that it is the US and Israeli invasions that have triggered the Arab and Muslim resistance, not the other way around.
Now, is Islam genuinely different from Christianity to the extent that people go to devastating wars to impose their religious beliefs on each other? Absolutely, not. George Bush is not out there in Afghanistan to convert Alqaeda and Taliban to become Southern Baptists or to believe in the Evangelical Bible prophecies. Nor Osama Bin Laden is fighting the US in order to convert the American people into Islam. Bush is fighting for oil, more military spending, and supremacy of Israel, and Bin Laden is fighting to force the US out of Arabia.
In the Holy Qur'an, all previous messengers of God are described as Muslims. This includes Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Muhammed. Their righteous followers are also considered as Muslims. Jews and Christians lived among Muslims without persecution for thousands of years and they are not required to convert to Islam. They are the People of the Book. The Islamic teachings and rituals have roots in the Bible, as you mentioned. In fact, Zafar Khan has traced the roots of Islamic prayers to the Bible, as you may read below. Islam is the religion of God that has been revealed to humans in different eras and the Qur'an is the final word of God that supports his previous revelations to humans.
What I am saying is that it is not religion itself that causes wars. Rulers and influential groups in society launch wars for their own benefits. They use the poor to fight these wars on their behalf, and in order to convince them to go to war, they bring religion to the discussion. Wars have always been fought for the control of resources, whether the infamous crusades of the dark ages or Cold War II now.
Your direct question was about whether Islam can "evolve" the way Christianity "evolved," that is, whether it's going to relax certain teachings, like clothes, diet, etc. It's more accurate to speak about Muslims and Christians instead of speaking about Islam and Christianity. People change but the scriptures don't change. Muslims, like Christians, are not uniform. In every society, the degree of religiosity is different on bases of social class, age, education, and sex among many other factors. As individuals and groups, people of all religions, including Muslims, do not share the same degree of religiosity or observance. So, it's not really an issue of importance. The degree of industrialization, though, is negatively related to the degree of religiosity. People in Europe were more religious before industrialization, so are people in other continents.
The bottom line, today's conflict (Cold War II), is caused by the US-Israeli invasion of the Arab and Muslim worlds. Religion is used by both sides to mobilize people to war. This is sadly the time we are living in.
Comparing the Muslim Prayer with the Prayer in the Bible. (3)
The first thing in the Muslim prayer is the Adhan or the call to prayer.
"O you who believe! when the call is made for the prayer....hasten to the rememberance of Allah" - (Holy Quran 6:29)
"And the Lord spake
unto Moses, saying, make thee two trumphets of silver...that thou mayest
use them for calling of the assembly...And when they shall blow them,
all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the
tabernacle of the congregation" - (Numbers 10:1-3)
When the faithful come to
the Mosque they take off their shoes so that they may enter the house of
worship in bare feet.
When the faithful come to the Mosque they take off their shoes so that they may enter the house of worship in bare feet.
"When he came to the fire, a voice was uttered: O Moses! I am the Lord, therefore put off thy shoes, for thou art in the sacred valley of Tuwa." - (Holy Quran 20:11-12)
(And god said to Moses),
"Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the
place whereon thou standest is holy ground." - (Exodus 3:5, also
Before standing for
prayer, Muslims make Ablution, washing their faces, hands, feet, etc.
Before standing for prayer, Muslims make Ablution, washing their faces, hands, feet, etc.
"O you who believe! when you rise up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads, and wash your feet to the ankles." - (Holy Quran 5:7)
"And Moses and Aaron
and his sons washed their hands and their feet threat; when they went
into the tent of the congregation they washed as the Lord commanded
Moses." - (Exodus 40:31-32)
Then, Muslims stand for
prayer facing the Kaaba or the Great Mosque in Mecca.
Then, Muslims stand for prayer facing the Kaaba or the Great Mosque in Mecca.
"So turn thy face towards the sacred Mosque, and (O Muslims), wheresoever ye may be, turn your faces towards it."
Daniel...went into the house; and his window being open in the chamber
towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and
prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." -
The House of Worship or
the Mosque is a place of peace and serenity, without images or idols of
worship, and simple with a carpet on which to sit or stand and to
The House of Worship or the Mosque is a place of peace and serenity, without images or idols of worship, and simple with a carpet on which to sit or stand and to meditate.
"God forgiveth not (the sin of) joining other gods with him;.one who joins other gods with God, hath strayed far, far away (from the Right)." - (Holy Quran 4:116).
"I am the Lord thy
God... Thou shalt have no other Gods in front of me. Thou shalt not make
unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in
heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in water under the
earth..." - Exodus 20:2-5.
In the Prayer, Muslims
bow down before God, and make obeisance to Him, by touching the ground
before them with their foreheads.
In the Prayer, Muslims bow down before God, and make obeisance to Him, by touching the ground before them with their foreheads.
"O You who believe! bow down and prostrate yourselves and serve your lord, and do good that you may prosper." - (Holy Quran 22:77)
"And he (Jesus) went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed..." - (Matt 26:39).
"And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship..." (Joshua 5:14)
"And they (Moses and Aaron) fell upon their faces..." (Num 20:6)
"And Abraham fell on
his face..." - (Genesis 17:3)
And lastly, when the
prayer is over, the Muslims spread out their hands to God, asking
forgiveness, seeking his Blessings, beseeching his protection for
And lastly, when the prayer is over, the Muslims spread out their hands to God, asking forgiveness, seeking his Blessings, beseeching his protection for mankind.
"Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and defend us from the torment of the fire." - (Holy Quran 2:201)
"...when Soloman had made an end of praying all his prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to Heaven" -(1 Kings 8:54)
"And Jesus Lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest me. And i knew that Thou heardest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast send me." - (Jhon 11:41-42)
* In interactive editorials, the editor of Al-Jazeerah answers questions and or responds to comments of readers, which are more general than readers' responses to specific articles or issues. It is an effective method of interaction in electronic journalism, particularly because it addresses readers' concerns.
** Dr. Hassan A. El-Najjar is the editor of Al-Jazeerah. Juan Bertucci is a reader who took the initiative by asking the question. Zafar Khan has a wonderful website about Islam, from which a section about prayer was included in this collective work.
(1) "The Gulf War: Overreaction & Excessiveness." (2001).
(2) Jason Vest wrote an excellent article about the alliance between Zionists and neo-conservatives. You can access it throught: The Men from JINSA and CSP, by Jason Vest
(3) For more details, see Zafar Khan's website: http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Park/6443/Salah/prayer.html
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.