‘The murderer and the murdered are both Muslims’

‘The murderer and the murdered are both Muslims’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his statement after the Feast of Sacrifice prayers, drew attention to the catastrophe of “massacring people after citing ‘God is Great” (Allah-u Akbar).

This does not suit the real identity of Islam, Erdoğan said. “The murderer is a Muslim, the murdered is a Muslim. Such scenes are being observed. The killing of people amid ‘Allah-u Akbar’ chants is not a thing to be tolerated or endured. This has no place, never at all, in our religion,” he added.

It is a very serious problem that such disasters, which belong to history, are still going on in the Islamic world in the 21st century.

In Islamic history, in the Battle of the Camel and the Battle of Siffin, the best friends of our prophet killed each other. In those wars, which lasted for months, the number of “Muslims killed by Muslims” was around 70,000. Whose faith was weaker? None of them! What made them fight was politics.

Almost 1,000 years later, there were sectarian wars in Europe. Historian Mack P. Holt, in his classic book "The French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629" gives horrible figures: From both Catholics and Protestants, 765,200 men and women were killed; 12,300 women and girls were raped, nine cities and 252 villages were wiped off the map. The number of houses burned down and destroyed was 184,000. In particular, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre against the Protestants was horrific.

There too, the political sovereignty fight was the real reason for this bloody outcome.

The Middle Ages in the 21st century

It is wrong to blame religion for these incidents. The World Wars, the massacre of millions by Hitler and Stalin had nothing to do with religion.

If one needs to make a generalization, we can mention such factors as the lack of tolerance, bigotry and the fact that the idea of law and the institutions of law were not developed to prevent these things from happening.

If in the Islamic world today, broad based movements such as the Taliban, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Boko Haram and al-Nusra are emerging, the reasons are the same: Instead of tolerance, a bigoted religious mentality that regards differences as infidelity prevails, and in association with this mentality a politicized passion for jihad. A social culture results that is a remnant of the Middle Ages, where there is no room for law and human rights.

Islam in modern times

For an Islamic understanding based on tolerance, on reconciliation instead of clashing, on compassion and mercy instead of hostility, on social solidarity instead of politics, the history of Islam has an exceptionally rich background. At the very least, we can count on Rumi, Yunus Emre and Haji Bektash Veli, right?

Indeed, if Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) is to be explained and taught, then alongside it modern norms such as the rule of law, the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, human rights and freedoms also need to be explained and taught.

In political life, while the freedom of religion and belief are defended for everybody in universal standards, the politicization of religious beliefs should be carefully avoided. If the clash of powers that is in the nature of politics infiltrates religion, there is no need to list the sorrowful examples of where this would lead.

Former President Turgut Özal had started consulting with theology experts on these questions while he was at the Çankaya Presidential Palace. Professor Mehmet Aydın was one of them, and Erdoğan could consult Aydın too. There are other valuable scholars today who have never been politicized, such as Professor Mehmed Hatiboğlu, Ali Bardakoğlu, Süleyman Uludağ, İlhami Güler and Vecdi Akyüz.