Since the disaster in New York, attention has been focused on Islam. Is Islam an aggressive faith, so that this explains the terror we have seen? What about the believers in this faith, the Muslims? Do they have moral concepts that do not coincide with ours?
It is a well-known fact that every religion – and other philosophical or religious conceptions – may be abused. That is shown not least by the history of Christianity. Now it’s Islam’s turn to be abused in an attempt to legitimize acts of terrorism.
But in New York the terrorist attack came first. Someone hatched a demonic plan. It was born of blind aggression. And it was then linked to the religion at hand.
We have seen examples of this previously, in all religions and cultures. So enough of that, and more about Islam.
Human life is holy
In Islam human life is holy. Human beings stand at the centre of creation, and everything else is secondary to that. God created the whole universe as a framework for human life.
Human life is indivisible. If you kill a human being, you challenge life as a phenomenon. For this reason, in the Koran God says: "If you kill a person (…) it is like killing the whole of humankind." (5.32)
God has a sovereign position as far as human life is concerned. No one shall be allowed to have equal status with Him, and believe that at his own pleasure he can take someone else’s life. Then he will be committing "the greatest sin" (the Prophet Muhammad).
In New York almost 3000 lives were taken in a blind, destructive act that God will not accept.
Human life is a gift, and we shall not deny that. On the contrary, life must be lived, and we must seek joy and happiness (under God’s guidance).
The victims in New York lived lives with their families, children and work. They made human choices, and who is to hate them for that?
As civilians they were innocent, nor were they responsible for their country’s policies.
Islam rejects collective responsibility; we are all to be judged for what we have done ourselves. In the Koran God says: "No one shall bear another’s guilt." (6.164)
Of course – we see the arrogance of Western civilization. In political terms the West elevates itself to number one in the world, with the right to govern the planet as it wishes itself (paying no heed to the poverty and distress of others). In society social disparity is accepted, while individual decay and moral decadence are allowed to spread (as long as the privileged classes have their needs met). For individuals it is self-development and their own welfare that have become the "god" they worship (while brotherhood and solidarity have been forgotten).
Nevertheless: Is it not so that a system, or a civilization, can only remain strong if it contains a sufficient amount of truth and justice? And how has it been possible for Western civilization to dominate the world so long if it has not borne with it truths that come from God?
Western civilization will continue to prevail until new forces, causing internal and external dissolution, come into being and gain great importance. It will continue as the prevailing system, and only defer to a stronger, more sublime force which is better able to develop humankind.
In no way will it succumb to terror.
Which is purely negative and destructive.
If one reacts to injustice, one must do so with propriety, says the Koran, and in accordance with God’s law.
"Fight on God’s road, but do not commit tyrannical acts." (2.190)
"Do not let dislike of any person lead you away from justice." (5.8)
What else than an act of tyranny and injustice – to put it mildly – was the terror in the USA?
It was not justified in Islam.
Not a religious conflict
This act of terror does not reflect a religious conflict between Christianity and Islam.
Both religions are related. Both teach of the one God, of the Day of Judgment and of life after this life. There are differences of detail but not in the essence of the religions.
Muslims and Christians – and Jews for that matter – shall all realize God’s will on Earth. In the Koran, churches, synagogues and mosques are all regarded as temples which we have a duty to protect.
"For if God did not use someone to keep others at bay, monasteries and churches, synagogues and mosques, where God’s name is frequently mentioned, would soon be in ruins." (22.40)
God alone shall judge between Muslims and Christians. And no one will be unjustly treated.
"Anyone who believes in God and in the Final Day, and does what is right, shall receive his reward from the Lord. They shall neither fear nor grieve." (2.62)
Muslims shall give the following message to Christians and to Jews: "God is our Lord and your Lord (…) Let there not be conflict between us!" (42.15)
Not a conflict of civilization
Nor does this act reflect a conflict of civilization between the West and Islam.
Neither of them is in conflict with the other. In a religious sense both civilizations belong to the descendants of Abraham, and thus to the same family.
One can learn from the other. The West can provide valuable technical, administrative and political experience, as well as knowledge concerning democratic values. What can Islam provide?
Existential understanding, we would maintain, of the meaning of life and the purpose of history. And help in linking knowledge and wisdom, thought and norm – which Western societies could well be in need of.