The View from Istanbul: When Did Hatred Become a Religion?
When did hatred become religion?
By Aylin Kocaman
For some, religious devotion has long been “hatred”. If a Muslim hates Jews, Christians, Zionists and Freemasons, then that is considered being devout. Some religious teachers and people who claim to be scholars have enjoyed a great deal of success in that way; they have made a niche for themselves and so much so that the more they have expressed a policy of hatred of Jews, the more crimes they have laid at America’s door, and the more damage they have inflicted on other schools, the more admiration they have acquired. People have come to admire these people, not because they are devout, but because they imagine that this is what religion is. The more a Muslim country is opposed to Israel and America, the more prestige it has gained among other Muslim countries. Hatred has become a sign of religious devotion. Hatred has become religion.
This has also spread among some Christian and Jewish communities. For example recently in New York, a series of anti-Muslim advertisements have appeared in the city’s public transportation system, advocating hatred of Muslims. What’s worse, those people in these communities who have spoken of peace and love and who have said that Muslims should be treated with respect, are often regarded with suspicion if not outright hostility. They have called this piety; but actually all they have done was to inflict a great tragedy on the world. Some communities and administrations that seek to adopt policies of hatred in the name of religious devotion forget this fact; what God wants is not hatred. And if they do not do what God wants, they can enjoy all the success and popularity they like, they can muster all the supporters they wish, they can enjoy all the prestige they desire, but they will never attain peace and security. God does not permit it. And what is the result of this? Nobody is anyone else’s friend. No country has bonds of friendship to any other. Countries provoke and offend one another, as do brothers.
Only three out of the 37 countries that were in a state of conflict as we entered the 21st Century – Liberia, Nepal and the Aceh region of Indonesia – have managed to put a partial stop to their internal conflicts. It is still going on in the other 34. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on since 1948. The communist uprising in the Southeast of Turkey, which is generally associated with the Kurds but in fact has nothing at all to do with the aspirations of Kurdish nationalism, has been going on for 30 years. Afghanistan has been without conflict for only four years since 1979. Fighting is now going on in many countries, and particularly in Syria, Egypt and Iraq. Many other countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Mali and others, have literally become used to the climate of war and disorder inflicted over the years; this is not confined to the Middle East or Africa. Mexico has seen a low-level conflict between the government and ruthless narcoterrorist gangs for several years now. As Russia refuses to withdraw its support for the bloody Syrian regime out of fear of Western hegemony in the Middle East, concerns over radicalism are keeping people on the streets in Egypt. The threat of a third intifada from Hamas – among other threats – following the most recent ceasefire shows that nothing has changed in the Middle East.
Nor will it change. Religion has come to mean something entirely different for them. That is what happens when people live by hatred as a religion. That is what happens when this issue is set aside and people instead try to find solutions through intermediaries, global coalitions and international agreements. We have to speak of religion to understand the root of the problem because it is those things that are mistakenly held up to be religion that lie at the root of the conflict. We must talk about true religion in order to put this right. People are ignoring this fact, and the world will never be at peace so long as they continue to do so.
God tells believers a secret in both the Torah and the Koran: Being united. Unity means the building of love among people, no matter what their religion, nation or race, who espouse proper values and the truth. This is a responsibility placed upon Muslims, Jews and Christians. Our Lord reveals this secret as follows in the Torah:
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live in unity! (Psalms 133/1)
In the Koran, God warns believers:
… If you do not act in this way (not be friends and protectors of one another) there will be turmoil in the land and great corruption. (Koran, 8/73)
Those supposed religious figures who enjoy success and popular acclaim through hatred forget these words. So long as Muslims, Jews and Christians do not adopt the path of love which represents the essence of their own scriptures, and as long as they stand against each other in enmity, these disorders can never be resolved. Countries can make all the agreements with one another they like, they can find negotiators and trust in international laws and pacts; but the real problems will never be resolved so long as they abandon true religion and the concept of love required by it. They must see that issued can not been resolved in this way. It is true believers and rational people who must establish a union of love, not radicals and those who seek to use religion as a tool to advance their revanchist fantasies and spread hatred. God says that if they do not do that, there will be disorder everywhere in the world. It is glaringly obvious that is what is happening now.
Enjoying success and popularity through hatred currently serves the ends of many leaders, groups and movements but there is a broader group of people who imagine that hatred is the essence of religion, who are under the influence of those who stand to gain from hatred and who sincerely believe they are doing the right thing. If we can see the truth, we have a responsibility to make them change. For that, education is needed; there is simply no other way. Whether some people go along or not, we have a duty to speak of true religious devotion and love. These people have been led astray through the errors and lies of those who stand to gain from them; but it will be much easier for them to learn the true facts. But for that, right-thinking Muslims, Jews and Christians must come to love and respect one another and make their voices heard across the world. We have a duty, as right-thinking people, to bring this about and to obey God’s commandments in the Torah and the Koran. Only then will God change the world.
The writer is a commentator and religious and political analyst on Turkish TV and also a peace activist. She is a host and Executive Producer on the Building Bridges Show (http://en.a9.com.tr/showdetails.php?id=86) and writes as an op-ed columnist for the Jerusalem Post, the Washington Post, Moment Magazine, Gulf Daily News and Haber Hilal in Turkey. Her webpage is: http://en.aylinkocaman.com