It is very sad about innocent people in Islamic nations. However, it is even sadder that there are Jewish and Christian minorities that are also being persecuted and have had difficulty throughout history, especially when there have been more fundamentalist groups.
We must reflect or meditate upon several facts before simply allowing our emotions and media-fueled hysteria to dictate our (impaired) logic when deciding to defend or apologise for a religion or group of people. I am sure that many Native Americans don’t wish to be Spanish Colonialist apologetics, just as, despite historical issues going back some 1,500 years, the Welsh and Scots wouldn’t want to be English or Anglo apologetics!
We must consider that not only Islam, but Christianity has had a history of intolerance bloodshed and violence that spread across the globe into the Americas, Asia and Africa.During the Goa Inquisition alone, 121 people were sentenced to death, while over 4,000 were tortured and punished and 300 Hindu temples were destroyed. These numbers weren’t limited to Hindus alone, but also Goan Catholics (who still embraced some Hindu customs and thus were seen as heretics), Syrian Christians and Jews. Everyone was forced to adhere to the religious doctrines of Catholic Portugal.
Islam has sadly had Arabic, Iranian, Turkic and other ethnic groups that have persecuted others in the name of their religion historically – it hasn’t simply been an isolated case or within one region / nation or group alone. Not all Muslims are terrorists and this is true – many wish to simply get on with their own lives. Yet, if we weighed up different faiths as per numbers, we find that Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Sikhs, atheists and even (modern) Christians aren’t the ones threatening the innocent members of the public, violently enforcing their beliefs upon others or making a point through terrorism. Again, the incidences in Brussels, London, Sydney, Paris, Berlin etc.all have one thing in common that we cannot deny, as much as we wish not to stereotype all people.
The question is, “do we view Hindus and Buddhists or Taoists today with the same heir as we do Muslims, or as medieval Pagans viewed Catholics?” The answer is “no”. Why did Pagans fear Christians? As they were mercilessly persecuted and condemned to them, simply due to a different belief, not due to crime.
My advice today is that we have no need to try and embrace the enemy, but to have empathy for those trapped within these faiths and in nations where their individual freedom is compromised, regardless of their religious persuasion. Here, the “extreme vetting” measures imposed by President Trump may seem an exaggerated notion at first, however if we are thinking about the history of Islam, modern terrorist attacks and how best to avoid them, such measures are a necessary evil – not only for the safety of the American public, but also for those who are refugees from such nations in America, so as their safety isn’t compromised as well. Imagine what impact upon peaceful Islamic communities in the United States would be if such restrictions weren’t imposed and a terrorist was let in accidentally! The damage would actually be just as great towards how people view all Muslims in general and spiral internal attacks and racism by association. These measures simply help keep everyone safe.
Whereas the Catholic Church historically has been an unruly parent, so also Islam as the world’s youngest large religion has acted out like a rogue child that we must be cautious and strategic in dealing with, not simply brash, nor let our guard down completely. We must not forget that these faiths alone not only killed in their name, but also devised elaborate methods of torture for innocent people who wouldn’t convert to their religion, which no other historical faith employed! Many people as the Jews simply kept to themselves – Jews don’t proselytise and it’s not easy to simply decide to become a Jew or even a Hindu, as it is a Muslim of Christian! These are facts we must consider and reflect upon.
Islam has given many wonderful contributions to the world, especially through India and translation of Sanskrit treatises on medicine, astronomy and astrology, advanced mathematics, the numeral system we use today from India via the Arabs and many other important things historically, of which the world has to be grateful for. However, as with those in the Catholic Church, along with this and its erudite scholars who spent their lives in the pursuit of this knowledge, were also equal tyrants that did great harm in the east and also in the west and sadly, continue doing so. The damage they did has long been implanted in the psyche of people’s nations they have attacked and civilisations and cultures they destroyed – it is not new, not limited the past few decades of Islamic terrorism in the western world, or European attention alone.
We must also remember that the Arabs developed much of their culture and academic learning via the Persians and Hindus. Many Indian vaidyas travelled to Baghdad and set up hospitals and taught there. During the Arab invasion of Sindh also, many Hindu architects were taken back to Baghdad to design and build mosques there. Such also occurred later in history when Tirmurlane took Hindu slaves to build his capital at Samarkand. Such styles date back to the early Buddhist architecture of Ashoka (c.300BCE) and earlier, which we often forget. Likewise, we also forget the sacking of the great Somanatha temple along with many others in India by Mohammed of Ghanzi and later destruction by other Muslim invaders that destroyed the great libraries and University of Nalanda and other native places of learning. The activity today has simply shifted from catapults and cannons to using bombs and nuclear threats – but it’s aggressive nature is over 1,200 years old, and we do not need former Christians apologising for Islam, due to their own bloodthirsty history that they wish to either validate or sweep under the carpet as a subliminal / subconscious samskara!
Not all Muslims are terrorists, but they are not all pacifists, either. Likewise, not all Hindus and Buddhists are pacifists, either – some, somewhere could be terrorists as well, but the reality is that for their majority, they are not, never have been and never really will be, despite them predating even Christianity, let alone Islam, by several centuries.
While we always wish for the best, we must remember that leopards never change their spots and also, congenital and deep-seated diseases are also much harder, if not impossible to completely cure, only to alleviate the symptoms before a period of eventual decline.