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Islam: Welfare or Warfare?


Throughout the history of Islam, it was defined by warfare. Starting with the battle of Badr, history is a long list of battles, wars, generals, soldiers, heroes, traitors, etc. Therefore, transforming the mindset of Muslims from warfare to welfare is a difficult and daunting task, which I, nevertheless, am going to attempt and succeed at.

Human nature is designed in such a way that extraordinary is recorded, and ordinary is ignored. Nursi wrote about it in the Thirteenth Word: about the two-headed and three-legged person and about lonely microorganisms in the depth of the ocean. The extraordinariness and violence of warfare leave deep wounds and permanent scars on the mind and memory of humanity. These deep wounds and permanent scars are called a history. The history of humankind is like the face of an old person marred by wrinkles of crises and disfigured by scars of wars. The history of humanity is like a face of a person who survived multiple explosions, umpteen shootings, several stabbings, many slashings, and numerous beatings. Look at such a face; it is very difficult to imagine that once it was young, fresh, and innocent; that instead of deep grief, these eyes were exuding joy; that instead of painful grimace, this face was a throne of the luminous smile.

The history of humanity is the old person who needs eternal rest, which is long overdue. The long life of this old person is no longer joyful; each day gives birth to grimaces, not smiles. The grave is not a fear for that person; the grave is long-awaited and duly-deserved rest. Therefore, we have to let it go; we have to bury history and start again and anew with the young child of new history.

Quran has about six thousand two hundred verses. Let us say that two hundred of them are related to warfare. That makes up 200/6200=0.03=3%. This means there are 3% warfare and 97% welfare. Should I ignore 97% of welfare in favour of 3% of warfare? Should I devote my life to 3% warfare or 97% welfare? Do some verses have precedence, priority, and importance over other verses? Do some people have weightier votes compared to other people? Does a white person’s vote hold more importance than a black person’s vote? Does a female’s vote is less significant than a male’s vote? Do “warfare verses” have more significance and weight than “welfare verses?” No, they are equal and equivalent.

When we draw a line on a paper, we are going to see the blackness of the line, not the whiteness of the paper; however, the quantitative areas of blackness and whiteness are different. Nursi argued in the Thirteenth Word that we see and concentrate on the beauty of the ordinary, not the ugliness of the extraordinary. I urge you to see and think about the whiteness of 97% of welfare verses, not the blackness of 3% of warfare verses. Our mindset has to change. Instead of emotional mindset, we have to develop a mathematical mindset; instead of bending and twisting Quran to our whims we have to shape ourselves according to the logic and architecture of the Quran; instead of seeing the ugliness of extraordinary, we have to think about the beauty of ordinary; instead of promoting warfare, we have to produce welfare.

Warfare is about survival, and welfare is about development. Warfare is about death, and welfare is about birth. Warfare is about funerals, and welfare is about marriages. Warfare produces orphans and widows, and welfare produces families and relationships. Warfare destroys cultures and civilizations, and welfare builds cultures and civilizations. Warfare is about poverty, famine, and hunger, and welfare is about prosperity, richness, and plenty.

The reason, purpose, and goal of warfare is survival. If survival is not threatened, then warfare is unnecessary. Warfare is permissible and unavoidable only when the lower basic needs of Maslow’s pyramid are violated. (i) Using warfare and instigating war to fulfil the higher needs of Maslow’s pyramid is unhuman, inhumane, cruel, egotistic, narcissistic, and irresponsible. Therefore, warfare cannot be and should not be the whim and caprice of an authoritarian despot or the planned decision of an insidious oligarchy.

Warfare is about survival, and welfare is about development. Those who want to achieve and promote development have to forget about warfare and concentrate on welfare. Warfare is a waste of human resources; warfare is a meat grinder used by tyrants to depose and liquidate competition and opposition; warfare is a tool to justify, consolidate and strengthen the oppression of a dictator; warfare is a chance to suspend and cancel democracy and freedom; warfare is a blind on the eyes of intellect and reason, warfare is a blind that masks the motion to the abyss of ignorance.

Warfare is the economics that is built on the tears, blood, and bones of the innocent. The military-industrial complex (MIC) produces weapons that target civilians and innocents, not belligerents. Aircraft bombs and rocket missiles make the killing of thousands as easy as a push of a button. Bombs and rockets do not distinguish between belligerents and civilians, and they have price and expiration date. Like food that is bought and consumed before the expiration date, these bombs, missiles, and other weapons have to be used before their expiration date, and this produces evil recursion and damned repetition of this curse and spell of humankind named warfare. How can we break this spell and remove this curse? By freedom of choice. We have to choose welfare, and we have to abandon warfare.

The invention of nuclear weaponry resulted in the concept and strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). This means, in the case of a nuclear war, there are not going to be winners and losers, but there are going to be only losers. The war, in the modern world and in the modern sense, is going to inflict irreparable and irreversible damage to all participants and non-participants. Civilization became too inter-connected and interdependent; civilization became complex and therefore fragile; civilization is like a heap of dry cotton, and there are stupid children running around and playing with matches.

Warfare exhausted itself. Two bloodbaths that we call World Wars and the invention of nuclear weaponry made warfare obsolete, antiquated, outdated, and very dangerous. Warfare is not going to solve problems, but it is going to produce more problems.

Instead of mutually assured destruction, we have to choose mutually assured development. Development is possible by connecting to each other. Intra-connection and inter-connection are possible by understanding each other. And understanding each other is possible by listening and speaking, by reading and writing. The audience of listening and speaking is limited by place, time, and persons, but the audience of reading and writing transcends place, time, and persons. The first and the most important verses of the Glorious Quran urge and call us to reading and writing, to understanding and connecting. The death sentence of warfare is thinking-reading-writing because the cause and root of warfare are not thinking, not reading, not writing, not understanding, not connecting. Reading and writing provide the non-violent means of dialogue; they give each person “voice” and “face.” On the other hand, warfare is the violent and brutal dialogue of “voiceless” and “faceless” non-thinking masses. Warfare, as any violent activity, shifts the centre of thinking from the logical, analytical and verbal cortex to the blind emotions and near-sighted instincts of the amygdala; thus, lowering humans to the level of an animal. (ii) Warfare is the triumph of the animalistic amygdala, and welfare is the product of the humanistic cortex.

Muslims and other people who claim, cling, and clutch to warfare as the means of betterment and development are deceiving themselves. Betterment and development are possible by thinking, reading, writing, and accumulation of knowledge. The warfare destroys and disperses knowledge, burns libraries, executes learned people, wastes generations; it produces Dark Ages and bigotry. Post-war periods are characterized by a decline in all areas of human life. Just imagine the fate and state of the world if tens of millions of bright, intelligent, idealistic young people were not slaughtered in the bloodbaths of world wars. Just envision how many inventions, discoveries, dreams, loves, joys, and smiles were buried in that cemeteries; how much human resources were wasted for nothing. They died for nothing, and they were sacrificed on the altar of pseudo-god of war. Do you think the Medal of Honor is going to return the lost years? Do you think the military rank is going to resurrect his friends and family? Do you think he wanted that war? Do you think he started that war?

Any war and every war produces amputees. Any war and every war cut something from you, either from your body or from your soul. Any war and every war inflict deep wounds and permanent scars on your memory, mindset, and mentality. When something is amputated from your body and soul, then it is lost forever; it is not going to grow again miraculously. When something is amputated from your body and soul, then you are asking yourself a question: “Was it worth it?” And deep silence of your eyes in the mirror answers you: “No.”

Warfare is not in the genes of Muslims, and warfare is not in the DNA of Islam. DNA of Islam is composed of four principles: Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge (JFCK). These four principles are like cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine (CGAT) of DNA of Islam. During the course of history, warfare was used as a tool (not a goal) to protect Freedom and establish Justice. However, Muslims are not bound and fettered by historical precedents and persons. Muslims are bound and structured by the principles of Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge. If there are alternative, better, more effective, and less harmful ways and methods of establishing and building Justice, protecting and expanding Freedom, promulgating and promoting Compassion, constructing and increasing Knowledge, then warfare has to be abandoned and suspended. And that better way and superior methods are thinking-reading- writing mentioned in the first and the most important verses of 96:1-5. Nursi, in his Words, frequently mentions and compares two ways: the first one is difficult, dangerous, long, tiresome; the second way is easy, safe, short, inspiring. Why choose the sadomasochistic way of warfare when another way of thinking-reading-writing is wide open and is waiting for you?

I do not want to be the cause and part of warfare; I want to be the cause and part of welfare. I believe that those who resort to violence show and accept the intellectual weakness and academic inferiority of their cause and idea because violence starts when words and ideas end. The source of my words and ideas is the Glorious Quran that mentions trees as the pens and seas as the ink (18:109, 31:27). (iii) Therefore, my words and ideas are never going to end, and I don’t feel and don’t see any need for violence because words are faster than bullets, ideas are sharper than swords, and principles are more powerful than bombs.

The Muslims and other people who cling and clutch to warfare as a solution to world problems are either blind or very near-sighted. They should put on correcting glasses of critical reading of history and remember the quote about the insanity of doing the same things and expecting different results. Warfare did not produce welfare – it is a historical fact. We can twist this fact, bend it, turn it, paint it in different colours, put on it various clothes and different perfumes, but it is not going to change it – warfare did not produce welfare. Thinking, reading, writing produced welfare throughout history on the micro-scale of individual and macro-scale of society. Just look up the list of the largest libraries. (iv) How many countries are from Africa, Asia, South America on that list?

Political Islam puts warfare as its goal and tool. The welfare of people is of no concern for political Islamists; that is why most people living in the countries governed by political Islamists are poor, ignorant, and hateful. Because rich, smart, and compassionate people are not going to tolerate political Islamists. Political Islamists use warfare as a tool to conquer, oppress, and deceive their own people and perpetuate their poverty, ignorance, and hatefulness. Political Islamists produce virtual enemies so that their people do not question them. The removal of the concept of warfare is going to result in the bankruptcy and suicide of political Islamists, and that is why they are going to cling and clutch to warfare, together with their pseudo-religious sycophant-scholars. They are the Pharaoh and Haman of the modern world (40:36) (v), and Muslims should leave them, abandon them, and emigrate away from them.

Muslims are not the prisoners of the past and hostages of history; the history of the past has no determining effect on the present and future; historical determinism is non-existent; fatalism is applicable to the past but non-applicable to the future; willpower is applicable to the future.vi Islamic civilization and culture was levelled to ground zero at the beginning of the twentieth century, and that was the sad finale of the five hundred years of decline and decay. (vii)

I frequently imagine myself on the site of a magnificent multi-million city that was destroyed, devastated, and ravaged by earthquakes and armies: destroyed buildings, corpses everywhere, fires, smokes, lootings, marauders, scavengers, bandits, scared and confused survivors, etc. That is how I view the current situation of the Muslims: bandits and marauders are politicians, scavengers are pseudo-religious quasi-scholars, corpses are dead ideas of the past that scavengers feed on, destroyed buildings are the social institutions of Salah and Zakah, scared and confused survivors are the Muslims who are threatened by bandits and attacked by scavengers.

Now, we have two choices. The first one is to live in ruins, and the second choice is to leave the ruins.

The choice of living in ruins and maybe, attempting to restore the ruins has the disadvantages of bandits, scavengers, corpses, and the back-breaking load of the historical past. Every morning you are going to see the ruins, and every day you are going to walk around decaying corpses; every moment, you are going to look at scavenger dogs eating that dead bodies; every day, you are going to be threatened and manipulated by bandits and marauders. Do you want it? I don’t. I am not masochistic enough to endure this life-long punishment.

The choice of leaving the ruins and starting a new city, new civilization, a new culture has the advantage of possibility and freedom. Maybe, the new city starts as a small village which can’t be compared with the Babylon, Basra, Baghdad of the past, but there are not going to be bandits and scavengers. The focus and concentration in the new city are going to be directed not to the corpses but to children. The old ideas are going to be buried like corpses, and new ideas are going to be reared like children. In the new city, the people are going to do deeds for the present and make plans for the future, instead of being intoxicated with the memories of the past. In the new culture, Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge are going to be the guiding principles and mental architecture. In the new civilization, reading and writing are going to be the main activities - reading and writing of the universe, human, and Quran. Natural, social and religious sciences are going to unite and fuse.

Sorry brother, here our ways part and diverge. Do you choose to live in ruins or leave the ruins? I chose to leave the ruins. I am starting again, and I am starting anew, I am starting fresh, I am starting clean. I buried the corpses of old ideas, and I am going to rear the children of new ideas. I do not forget the history, but I forgive the history, and I let it go. Let. It. Go. I burned the bridges, and I crossed the Rubicon. Like Abraham and Ishmael, I am going to a new place to build a new house (2:127). (viii)

Who am I? I am neither prophet nor messiah, and I do not pretend to be one. But I am a thinker in the same way as all of you are. I am a thinker whose one leg is the reason, and the other leg is the revelation, whose one hand is reading, and the other hand is writing. I am tired of living around ruins, scavengers, bandits, and corpses. That is why I am leaving these ruins. Islam is not these ruins, in the same way as the map is not the territory and plan is not the building. (ix) Islam is the map of space, time, and individuals that I am going to use in my journey. (x) Islam is the plan of my mental building and the blueprint of the house of my mindset. (xi) Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge are four guards at the doors of this house, and they are going to test, allow and deny any idea, thought, emotion, precedent, and the person who is entering this house of mindset.

Sorry sister, I am crying. But what can I do except crying and writing?

Hey brothers and sisters. Forgive me and forget me. Or join me in the exploration and discovery of the New World. We were stuck for too long in these crowded and noisy city walls. These walls were not protecting us; they were imprisoning us. Now, these walls are ruined, so don’t cry over them. When Nursi was crying over the ruins of his school in the Thirteenth Hope of The Twenty-Sixth Flash, God showed him the new dimensions of reality, the miracles of the ordinary. (xii) So, start again, start anew, start fresh, start clean.

I chose, and I am choosing welfare, not warfare.

2:111 … Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful!” xiii

25:30. And the Messenger says: “My Lord! Surely my people have made this Qur’an something worthy of no attention.” xiv

-İman isteyen münafık 


References:

i Saul Mcleod, “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” Simply Psychology, December 29, 2020, https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html.

ii Dale H. Schunk, Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective, 6th ed (Boston: Pearson,

2012),

https://www.researchgate.net/file.PostFileLoader.html?id=53ad2847cf57d75c068b45c5&assetKey=AS% 3A273549456019456%401442230680395.

iii Ali Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, n.d., www.mquran.org www.theholybook.org.

iv byjus.com, “Largest Libraries In The World,” BYJUS, accessed February 26, 2021, https://byjus.com/govt-exams/world-largest-libraries/.

v Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English.

vi Said Bediuzzaman Nursi, The Words: On the Nature and Purposes of Man, Life, and All Things, trans. Şükran Vahide, vol. 1, Risale-i Nur Collection, 2008, http://www.sozler.com.tr.

vii Wikipedia, “Ground Zero,” in Wikipedia, January 28, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ground_zero&oldid=1003258032.

viii Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English.

ix Wikipedia, “Map–Territory Relation,” in Wikipedia, January 9, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Map%E2%80%93territory_relation&oldid=999277700.

x Nursi, The Words: On the Nature and Purposes of Man, Life, and All Things.

xi Nursi.

xii Said Bediuzzaman Nursi, The Flashes, trans. Şükran Vahide, vol. 3, Risale-i Nur Collection (Nuruosmaniye Cad., Sorkun Han 28/2, Cağaloğlu, Istanbul, Turkey. Tel: 0212 527 10 10 Fax: 0212 527

82 31: Sözler Publications A. S., 2009).

xiii Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English.

xiv Ünal.


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