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Don't Blame Religion


We often hear it said that religion is to blame for most of the world’s troubles. The violence and loss of life in Northern Ireland in the not too distant past and the warfare brought about by so called Islamic State today are examples used by people who say wars are caused by religion. We should not blame religion because religion is not the cause of most wars and bloodshed.

I listened to John O Brennan giving the BBC's annual Dimbleby lecture on television the other night. John was director of the CIA for four years and has held high office in several administrations in the US travelling the world in anti-terrorism roles. It was clear to John that religion was wrongly blamed for many of the world’s ills.

I put forward the view that the main body of all major faiths in the world are essentially peaceful and here are my reasons for this view:

  • Hindus believe in Ahimsa which can be defined as doing no harm to anything that lives.

  • Christians believe in Peace. Jesus was a non-violent leader who taught his followers to live lives of love and peace and he preached forgiveness. He lived his life easing the suffering of those he met.

  • Islam means living in a peaceful environment that emerges through submission to God. The Qur'an asks that all humanity should embrace silm, that is, peace, and reminds Muslims to avoid following Satan. The Qur’an states ‘’O you who believe! Come in full submission to God, all of you, (without allowing any discord among you due to worldly reasons), and do not follow in the footsteps of Satan, for indeed he is a manifest enemy to you (seeking to seduce you to rebel against God, with glittering promises) (Qur'an, 2:208)’’ Satan is therefore enemy of peace.

  • The Qur’an states that, all Muslims are brothers and sisters to each other and if a disagreement appears among them they make peace and correct it (Qur'an, 49:10). They help each other to avoid what God forbids and to observe their religious awareness at every stage in their life (Qur'an, 5:2); they carry out important tasks after shura, that is, consultation (Qur'an, 3:159; 42:38); and they always witness truthfully and are just even if it is against their close relatives (Qur'an, 4:135).

  • The Prophet Muhammed established unity among his growing band of followers by acting with compassion and mercy.

  • The Jews believe in ‘Shalom’, a Hebrew word meaning peace. In fact they greet each other with the word ‘Shalom’. Violence and warfare are only allowed in ‘defence’ or for ‘good reason’ The Torah states that there can be no war without first making every effort to make peace. (Deuteronomy 20 :10)

  • Judaism is a faith of Justice. I read that Sammy Davis Jnr became a Jew because Judaism was a faith of justice. He was saying that his experiences of life had led him to the conclusion that love did not always lead to justice and Christianity preached love.

  • Peace is at the very heart of Buddhism. The first Buddhist precept is ‘Avoid killing, or harming any living thing’. Many Buddhists refer to an ancient law which states ‘Hatred will not cease by hatred, but by love alone’

  • Nothing in Buddhist scripture allows violence and war. Buddha preached that it was better for thieves to dismember your body than to have hostility in your mind.

  • Guru Nanak wrote ’No one is my enemy, no one is a foreigner, with all I am at peace. God with in us renders us incapable of hate and prejudice’

  • Guru Gobind Singh taught that there may be occasions when after all attempts at peace have been made then war is acceptable in self defence.

War, violence and terrorism are brought about by greed, the desire for power and hatred. All the major religions vigorously condemn greed, the desire for power and hatred.

Don’t blame religion for the world’s ills.

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