Hot Button Topic: Islam and Peace

Discussion in 'Islam' started by Polycarp, Jun 22, 2003.

  1. Polycarp

    Polycarp Established Member

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    If you've seen or heard any fundy. comments since 9/11, you know that they're bound and determined to paint Moslems as men given to hostility, and to quote the Koran as justifying it. Franklin Graham's comments mentioned elsewhere are only one example of many.

    Given that we have some devout Moslem members, I'd like to ask Omar or Ali (or another Moslem member that I haven't noticed yet) to speak a bit about (1) what they were taught about peace and war as Moslems, (2) what the Koran really says on the subject, in context, and (3) what they understand jihad to mean in the present-day world. (My impression is that the answer to (3) is the conquering of the sinful impulse in self, and the defense of those who need defending, including particularly the community of the Faithful. But I'd rather hear it straight from them.)
     
  2. brian

    brian Administrator Admin

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    It would certainly be interesting to get an insider perspective from a Muslim on these issues, rather than observer commentaries. Especially as Ali and Omar both appear to have notable differences in their apporaches.
     
  3. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    as you know, i'm not a Muslim... however, i've engaged in this very series of questions over at the Understanding-islam.org site.

    if you'd like, i'd be happy to explain what i was able to learn from them regarding these issues. always with the expectation that a knowledgeable Muslim will show up and correct me if i'm mistaken.
     
  4. mikie8

    mikie8 Well-Known Member

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    wtc 9.11 had nothing to do with muslims or the islamic faith . plz dont associate a faith with terroist actions
     
  5. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Jihad

    from Understanding-islam.org

    Question:

    Islamic precepts suggest under what circumstances a jihad can take place. Equally important but less well understood is a related question: Under what circumstances should jihad be suspended if its intended purposes are not being met? The situation in Kashmir provides specific context to this important question

    There is no evidence to date that the jihad waged against the Indian presence in Kashmir is succeeding, but there is ample evidence of casualties among women, children, and other noncombatants. There is also growing evidence of a readiness among Kashmiris for a suspension of hostilities and human rights abuses. Under these circumstances, do Islamic precepts mandate a continuation of jihad or its suspension?

    Answer:

    <justify>It would be advisable, in my opinion, to first understand the directives of Islam governing Jihad, remaining absolutely independent of the situation prevalent in Kashmir. We should first try to understand the directives for Jihad in the Islamic Shari`ah[1] and then, by applying these directives of the Shari`ah on the practical situation prevalent in Kashmir (or any other area), see whether the directives of the Shari`ah are being followed by the freedom movements in these areas or whether these directives are even applicable to the situations prevalent in these areas.</justify> Let us first try to understand the issue purely from the perspective of understanding the directives of the Shari`ah. In our present times, the term 'Jihad' has generally been used to imply 'killing the opponent (non-Muslim) using any means, whatsoever'. This implication of the term, if seen in the light of the Qur'an as well as the life of the Prophet (pbuh) does not seem to be accurate. On the contrary, if seen in the light of the Qur'an and the Seerah[2] of the Prophet (pbuh), we come to the conclusion that Jihad is not merely fighting against non-Muslims for whatever reasons and in whatever manner; it is, in fact, a war declared under specific circumstances[3] carried out by an organized Muslim state. To fully comprehend the directives of the Shari`ah relating to the institution of Jihad, it is imperative to find answers to the following questions:
    1. <justify>As an entity, who is the addressee of the verses related to Jihad? Is it the Muslim individuals? Is it a group of Muslims? Or is it an organized collectivity (a Muslim state)? In other words, who, precisely, is given the directive of waging a war[4] against another people? </justify>
    2. <justify>Can a group of trained and armed Muslims initiate a war for absolutely any reason or are there any reasons specified in the Shari`ah for which a war can be declared on another people? </justify>
    3. <justify>Are there are any directives of the Shari`ah relating to the ethical and moral behavior of the collectivity as well as the individuals participating in a war to which they should adhere during the times of war, whether within the battlefield or outside it. </justify>
    In the following paragraphs, we shall try to give comprehensive answers to the stated questions.

    The Addressee of the Directives Relating to Jihad
    The first question relates to the determination of the addressees of the directives relating to Jihad. This, in other words, is an attempt to determine the entity, which is responsible to carryout the directives relating to Jihad. If seen in the light of the nature of the directive as well as the timing of its implementation in the Qur'an, one can easily derive that it addresses, not the Muslim individuals or any groups thereof, but the organized collectivity of the Muslims. In other words, the directive of Jihad, like all other directives of Islam pertaining to the collectivity of the Muslims[5] is addressed to the Organized Muslim state[6]. This, in other words, implies that the first and the foremost condition - unanimously acknowledged as a necessary condition by all classical Muslim jurists - for any aggressive action against a people to qualify as Jihad is that it should be carried out and implemented by an organized Muslim state. Another issue relating to the addressees of the directives of Jihad is the recommended balance of power between the Muslim state (planning aggression in the name of Jihad) and the other state (against which an aggressive action is being planned). This issue is especially pertinent, from the Islamic perspective, because the Qur'an has given clear guidance in this regard. The Qur'an promises God's help for any Muslim army, which is fighting for a just cause, even if the power-balance of the Muslims and their adversaries is one to two. That is the Muslims are half as strong as their adversaries[7]. If seen closely, this verse, on the one hand, provides a glad tiding for the Muslims that even if they are half as powerful as their adversaries and are fighting for a just cause, God shall help them and, as a result, they shall be successful. However, on the other hand, this verse also implies that if the power-balance between the two armies is more than 1:2 (that is the Muslims are less than even half as strong as their adversaries), then the Muslims, rather than declaring any wars, should first improve this power-balance and bring it to at least the minimum recommended 1:2.
    Thus, from the above explanation, it is clear that:
    1. <justify>It is only a Muslim state (not individuals or groups of individuals), whose aggression against another people, for a just cause, can qualify as 'Jihad'. </justify>
    2. <justify>A Muslim state has been promised God's help and subsequent victory, if it is fighting for a just cause and if its relative power-balance (with its adversary state) is not less than 1:2. </justify>
    [<justify> to be continued.....</justify>
     
  6. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    part 2

    The Purpose of Jihad

    According to the Qur'an, a Muslim state has been directed to fight against persecution[8]. This is the only reason for which a Muslim state can take an aggressive armed action against another people. The Qur'an has stressed this point in its verses relating to Jihad as well as those relating to taking another person's life. It is obvious that Qitaal (or Jihad) invariably results in the loss of lives and property. Taking a human life or even giving life is not a trivial matter. If any of our decision entails even the possibility of taking a human life (as would obviously be the case in declaring war), especially in the name of Islam, we must at least have a clear permission of our Lord to take life for the particular purpose for which we are declaring that war. Without such clear permission, it is quite possible that our decision may not be correct and, if that is indeed the case, we are held responsible for all the loss of life and property that occurs consequent upon our decision. We must keep in mind that, according to the Qur'an, taking even one life for a cause not authorized by God shall follow the same consequence as that of killing the whole of mankind. The Qur'an has clearly declared:

    Whoever killed even a single soul - except being a punishment of murder or that of spreading unrest in the land - is as if he killed the whole of mankind. (Al-Maaidah 5: 32)

    It is due to the extremely grave consequences of taking a human life, as have been mentioned in the cited verse, that we should be overly careful in finding out whether or not we have been allowed by an express directive of the Almighty to take life for the particular cause for which we are planning or even contemplating to declare a war. Thus, Muslim states, when they are in a position to do so, have been ordained by the Qur'an to fight only against persecution (injustice, oppression etc.). Muslim swords are raised only against the oppressors and persecutors, irrespective of whether the oppressor is a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

    Some Ethical Issues Relating to Jihad

    The Qur'an and the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) have pointed a number of ethical issues relating to Jihad - whether relating to the situations inside the battlefield or outside it. Some of the most important among these issues are:

    Jihad is a declared war against another people. Jihad does not cover any covert or hypocritical actions of a Muslim state against another. Thus, Jihad does not cover actions like secretly sponsoring terrorist activities against the adversaries, even if such adversaries are, in the opinion of the Islamic state, guilty of persecuting its citizens or any particular segment of its citizens.

    A Muslim state cannot carryout Jihad, against an adversary state, in violation of any mutual or international agreements. This ethical condition, according to the Qur'an[9], would remain applicable even if the adversary state is clearly guilty of persecuting its citizens and even if the persecuted Muslims have called upon the Muslim state for help.

    While in a state of war against another nation, Muslims cannot, under any circumstances, make the non-combatant peoples of that nation (including men, women and children not taking part in the war) a target of their attacks[10].

    Finally, a Muslim has been strictly admonished against showing cowardice and spinelessness in the battlefields[11].

    The aforementioned are some of the important ethical teachings of Islam relating to the matter under consideration. Keeping the preceding explanation in perspective, it should be clear that "Jihad", in the Islamic Shari`ah, "is a declared warfare against injustice and oppression carried-out by an organized Islamic state, under the strict compliance of all ethical teachings of Islam, relating to it. The above, in my opinion, is the gist of the teachings and the directives of Islam relating to Jihad. As far as whether or not a particular aggression of a Muslim group should be termed "Jihad" is concerned, it is a matter related to the application of the teachings explained in the preceding paragraphs. It is obvious that if the aggression under consideration complies with the teachings of Islam stipulated above, it would lie within the folds of Jihad, otherwise not. Thus, it is for the Muslims to make an opinion regarding whether or not the term can/should be used for the various Muslim freedom movements in the world.

    end part 2..... part 3 continues.....
     
  7. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    part 3

    Is There any Room for Retrenchment?

    You have asked:

    Under these circumstances, do Islamic precepts mandate a continuation of jihad or its suspension?

    As I understand it, please correct me if I am wrong, your question pertains to whether the Muslim army can adopt a policy of retrenchment, or even surrender, if the situation seems absolutely hopeless.

    The answer to this question, in my opinion, is quite obvious. Jihad, under no circumstances, is synonymous with suicide - whether individual or collective. Jihad is (at least should) always be carried out for a purpose. Martyrdom should indeed be a desire of every Mujahid[12], but it is never the purpose of Jihad. Thus, if the situation becomes absolutely bleak and there is absolutely no hope for success, then there is no point in wasting precious human lives. Carrying on to fight, under such circumstances, would be an extremely unwise decision and would, therefore, not find its approval from Islam. The Qur'an while admonishing individuals to strictly refrain from showing cowardice in the battlefield has made an exception to the situation where the Muslim army, as a whole, adopts the strategy of moving back[13]. This is a clear evidence to the effect that under such circumstances as you have mentioned, the Shari`ah does not prohibit the Muslim army from adopting a policy of retrenchment.
    September 2, 2000

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [1] That is the law of Islam, based solely on the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
    [2] That is the life of the Prophet (pbuh).
    [3] Besides any defensive war.
    [4] The word 'war' has generally been used as synonymous to Jihad.
    [5] As, for example, the implementation of the punishments recommended for various crimes.
    [6] The word 'state' in this article has been used in its generally understood meaning as "a form of human association distinguished from other social groups by its purpose, the establishment of order and security; its methods, the laws and their enforcement; its territory, the area of jurisdiction or geographic boundaries; and finally by its sovereignty." (Encyclopedia Britannica)
    [7] Al-Anfaal 8: 66
    [8] The Qur'an has clearly placed the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions (ra) in an exceptional position. The Jihad of the Prophet (pbuh) as well as that of his companions, after his demise, was based on their exceptional position. For details regarding the basis of the Jihad of the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions, please refer to a few of my earlier responses to related questions, titled "The Initial Spread of Islam and the Law of Jihad", "A Comment" and "The meaning of Al-Baqarah 2: 143 and Al-Hajj 22: 78 and Their Implications on the Law of Jihad".
    [9] Al-Anfaal 8: 72
    [10] Al-Baqarah 2: 190
    [11] Al-Anfaal 8: 15 - 16
    [12] i.e. a person taking part in Jihad.
    [13] Al-Anfaal 8: 15 - 16

    http://www.understanding-islam.org/related/sscategory.asp?scatid=95
     
  8. Chronicles

    Chronicles Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the posting, Vajradhara - shame we can't get a few members from over there to here.

    I wonder if any the answers satisfy Polycarp?
     
  9. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namate Brian,

    actually... i think that two members are here... menj (though he's pretty quiet on the UI site) and Darkyl... though he's been pretty quiet here.

    there are a few more articles on Jihad and it's implications and applications at the site which could be of interest to the curious reader.
     
  10. faryal

    faryal member

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    salam,

    I m new here, so hello everyone. oh and this is my first post... anyway.

    "what they were taught about peace and war as Moslems.what the Koran really says on the subject, in context, and what they understand jihad to mean in the present-day world."

    I was taught that peace should prevail ... but if u are attacked u must defend yourself. Muslims believe in divine judgment. God is never unjust, even in the least degree. So, Muslims – those who submit peaceful to God - are careful that they do nothing to earn His wrath. Thus, they do not kill the innocent. If they do so, it is as if they have killed the whole humanity, as God says in Surah 5, verse 32:

    *{… if anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.}*

    JIHAD:
    The Islamic idea of jihad, which is derived from the Arabic root meaning "to strive" or "to make an effort," connotes a wide range of meanings, from an inward spiritual struggle to attain perfect faith to an outward material struggle to promote justice and the Islamic social system.
    During the period of Qur'anic revelation while Muhammad (sa)was in Mecca (610-622), jihad meant essentially a nonviolent struggle to spread Islam. Following his move from Mecca to Medina in 622, and the establishment of an Islamic state, fighting in self-defense was sanctioned by the Qur'an (22:39).

    Allah (arabic wordfor God) allows fighting in cases where people are ‘wronged’, as in Surah 22, verse 39:
    *{To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to fight], because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is Most Powerful for their aid...}*

    The use of force is ruled out in matters of religion, so there's no way that jihad is done for the sake of spreading islam by force, as the Qur’an says in Surah 2, verse 256:
    *{Let there be no compulsion in religion: truth stands out clear from error…}*

    Also, in Surah 18, verse 29:
    *{Say: "The truth is from your Lord": Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject [it].}*

    Quran says:
    Surah 2, verse 190:
    *{Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah does not love transgressors.}*
    It is clear that the permission for fighting is given here to the Muslims to defend themselves; and even there, they are warned against transgressing limits.

    i hope these verses cleared a few things, i better go now.
    AllahHafiz.
     
  11. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    As-Salaam Alaikum, faryal and welcome to CR. :)

    Glad to see one of our Muslim members finally found their voice to patiently, and with considered thought, make a proper reply to Polycarp's original post. :)
     
  12. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro Moderator

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    Zdrastvuitsye, hola, shalom, salaam, Dia dhuit, hej, namastar ji, konnichiwa, squeak, meow, :wave:, faryal, and Allah's blessings be upon you and yours. :)

    I believe there is a quotation almost, if not exactly like this quotation in the Talmud (bananabrain would know more about this than I, but, then again, almost ANYBODY would know more about this than I.) I first heard the quotation in the movie Schindler's List, when the people saved by Schindler presented him with a ring with that particular portion inscribed on it.

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
  13. emong

    emong Well-Known Member

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    and Christ also basically says the same thing!
     
  14. Ozz^E

    Ozz^E Member

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    Assalamu Alaikum brothers and sisters...

    May the Almighty guide us all to the Truth.

    Thats a very interesting observation you make there. It can be quite easily resolved though by quoting the entire verse from the Qur'an instead of just a part of it:

    "Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation for murder, or to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be a sif he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidences and signs, even then many of them continued to commit excesses in the land" (5:32)

    The "Because of that..." refers to the preceding verses in which is related the infamous incident of the sons of Adam (peace be upon him) (Cane and Abel).

    So yea...it was intially ordained to the Children of Israel (or to whom we presently refer to as Jews) so it should not come as any surprise that it is found in the Talmud (or the Bible for that matter since the Injeel (Bible) was revealed to Jesus (peace be upon him) after the Torah was revealed to Moses (peace be upon him) and it confirmed what the Children of Israel were previously given).
     
  15. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro Moderator

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    Zdrastvuitsye, hola, shalom, salaam, Dia dhuit, namastar ji, hej, konbanwa, squeak, meow, :wave: to you, too, Ozz^E and the blessings of Allah upon you and yours.

    Thank you for the posting about where to find that particular portion of the Qur'an. I shall attempt to look up that portion (and probably others) and have a small discussion with somebody in the Muslim Students Association when I have the time and inclination to pester them. :)

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
  16. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    I'm not a Moslem myself, but a Baha'i and we are very sympathetic to Islam, that is we accept Prophet Muhamamd and the Qur'an.

    The issue of Jihad as I understand it from early history of Islam was that defensive struggle was justified if the community was under attack and the Faith was being suppressed. So this occurred when the Meccan pagans attacked the Moslems and persecuted them for their beliefs.

    In later years there were expeditions against the Sassanids in Persia and against the Byzantine Empire. It should be noted that both the Byzantines and the Sassanids had outposts in Arabia like client states or allied Arab tribes who acted in their interests and this was a reality before the mission of Prophet Muhammad. There were skirmishes early on between the Byzantine supported Christain Arabs (the Ghassanids) and the Moslems after a Moslem embassy was attacked in Syria

    My understanding is that Jihad could only officially be called by a Caliph. In early Islam only the Caliph had the authority to evoke a Jihad.

    It was forbidden to attack innocent people, women and children and the means of livelihood was to be left intact. If an enemy sued for peace and a treaty was devised this was allowed as long as the treaty was followed. Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians were allowed to keep their religion in Moslem states as long as they did not try to actively convert Moslems. A tax was levied on all non-Moslems who lived in a Moslem state. Christains and Jews were exempt from military service.

    If a Moslem married a Christian woman she was allowed to practise her religion, same for Jewish women. Moslem women were not permitted marriage to non-Moslems.

    My understanding is that Ali who was the cousin of Prophet Muhammad and the fourth Caliph, did not believe the believers during his caliphate were spiritually mature enough to participate in Jihad so He did not evoke it...against his enemies...many of whom were also Moslems.

    Sufis also have a concept of Jihad that is a struggle to control the self.

    Baha'u'llah our Prophet Founder abolished Jihad for Baha'is so armed struggle in defence of our Faith is not permitted.

    As a Baha'i I feel that the current crises in the Middle East are probably the greatest challenge to world peace and order; that a stronger UN or world commonwealth is needed to stablish peace in the region and rebuild it; that we have the opportunity to learn more from each other and build bridges of understanding between Moslems, Jews and Christians through the world.

    - Art
     
  17. samabudhi

    samabudhi Well-Known Member

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    Isn't it sad that we've come to accept war as a natural part of life.
    The whole idea of chivalry is designed to ease men's conscience.
    'Well as long as we don't kill the women and children it's OK'.

    True compassion knows no boundaries, but this is just pity.

    Think about it. One of the biggest problems with trying to get men to fight is their conscience. Justifying wars is always a big part, and when you can say, 'Well we're only killing the men' and 'It is God's will', then one doesn't feel so bad about it.
     
  18. Ozz^E

    Ozz^E Member

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    Thats a good point: life would be better without any wars. But I guess its not as simple as that. Its the greed and selfishness for power and dominance in humans beings that needs to be controlled. Thats wat creates the wars. Take the US for example, clearly the world's most powerful nation, but thats not enough for them (the admin.), they want to make sure that they maintain and extned this power and if that means wars then so be it.

    On the other hand, if any system/religion, didnt allow retaliation/defence, then its clearly not satisfactory. Any system has to allow its adherents to fight back when aggressed and to defend themselves.

    So the sad thing really is the inability of humans to control their base desires of dominace and power.
     
  19. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Thank you Samabudhi for your notes!

    samabudhi wrote:

    Isn't it sad that we've come to accept war as a natural part of life.
    The whole idea of chivalry is designed to ease men's conscience.
    'Well as long as we don't kill the women and children it's OK'.

    True compassion knows no boundaries, but this is just pity.

    Think about it. One of the biggest problems with trying to get men to fight is their conscience. Justifying wars is always a big part, and when you can say, 'Well we're only killing the men' and 'It is God's will', then one doesn't feel so bad about it.

    Comment:

    There's an interested story or tradition about Imam Ali recounted by Bawa Muhaiyaddeen in "Islam and World Peace" that demonstrates I think the embodiement of what true Chivalry is:

    One day when Ali was in battle, his opponent's sword broke and the man fell. Ali stood above him and holding his sword to the man's chest, he said: "If you had a sword in your hand, I would continue this fight, but since your sword is broken, I cannot strike you."

    "If I had a sword at this moment, I would cut off your arms and legs." the man shouted back.

    "All right then", Ali replied, and he handed the man his sword.

    "What are you doing?" the man asked. bewildered. "I am your enemy am I not?"

    Ali looked him in the eye and said: "You swore that if you had a sword in your hand you would kill me. Now you have my sword so go ahead and strike me."

    But the man could not.

    "That was your ignorance and arrogance speaking, Ali explained, "In the realm of Allah there is no fight or enemy between you and me. We are brethren. The real war is between truth and your lack of wisdom. It is between truth and falsehood. You and I are just watching the battle. You are my brother. If I were to harm you at this point, I would have to answer for it on the Day of Questioning. Allah would ask me about it."

    The man became a Moslem.

    From p. 82 of "Islam and World Peace".

    - Art
     
  20. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Ozz^E wrote:

    "On the other hand, if any system/religion, didnt allow retaliation/defence, then its clearly not satisfactory."

    Comment:

    As a Baha'i we don't retaliate in defence of our religion...this is a matter of record.... Baha'u'llah forbade Jihad for Baha'is and I think even with this we have survived in spite of persecution and oppression.

    Also true Martyrdom I think generates a spiritual power or energy that in the end overcomes the enemy....Many things can be accomplished without the use of any weapons whatsoever and it is just left to our ingenuity to devise and implement them.... Peace and goodwill of themselves are synergistic and empowering.

    Our teachings accept that defence of a country or city in the face of criminal activity or attacks is necessary ...and a modicum of defence is necessary to keep civil peace so Police are needed.

    What the world needs is a truly representative federated world government with a strong international court of arbitration that can restrain the powerful nations and protect the weak ones in this stage of our developemnt, I believe.

    - Art
     

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