In the world today, in every corner, there are wars that are being fought. There are many conflicts in the world that have led to many wars with the loss of many lives in the world. There have been many wars ranging from religious wars, economic wars, social liberation wars, and many others. Wars have been fought since the start of the recording of human history but many of the wars were mainly religious. However, when the old day’s wars mainly used humans to fight, modern day’s wars have advanced technologically and advanced warfare is benign used.
Religious wars are fought mainly due to differing religious interests. Religious wars have been fought in many parts of the world. Regions embracing different religions are most prone to religious wars. During the cold war, the religious war took another turn as many countries took sides with the capitalist or communism.
Religious wars have erupted in most instances due to differences between Muslims and Christians. Religious wars between Muslims and Christians have been occurring in Nigeria and in recent times it has led to the death of many people in Sudan. However religious conflicts have occurred in all parts of the world from Africa to Asia to the United States and even in Europe. Africa has some of the worst and longest wars claiming millions of lives
Perhaps some of the historical wars and which left a mark in world history were the first and the second world wars. Both wars were fought due to economic and religious conflict with the Second World War witnessing the execution of millions of Jews by the Nazis in Germany.
This war one of the worst religious wars that have been fought in the world. Other wars have been fought with the recent wars being directed towards terrorist activities. After the terrorist attack of America on September 11, the world has not been at rest due to the threat posed by the terrorist activities. Immediately America started by attacking Afghanistan to flush out Taliban who were thought to be harboring Al-Qaeda terrorists. After the attack on Afghanistan, another war was directed towards Iraq in a bid to liberate the people of Iraq from Saddam’s tyranny. It seems the war is not over in the Middle East and may soon erupt in Iran.
It is amazing how different religions have reacted to wars and the comments they have made about different wars. It is still ironic that many of the religions spread through wars. Islam is noted as the religion which advocated for wars in its early days. Every religion can claim to have caused some kind of human conflict in its early days. It is even amazing that some religions like Islam still believe in using wars or Jihad to conquer and subdue people to the religion.
Religions originated from the need to pacify and unite peoples and hence it is their duty to make sure that their followers live in peace and harmony. It is expected that religions should be at the forefront to condemn wars and help to settle conflict and end wars. However, this seems not to be the case since religion is existing in regions that are torn apart by wars. Those who fight and kill are still followers of these religions. This makes us ask ourselves the view that religions hold on war or how do they feel about wars.
Christian View of war
Christianity is a religion that originated in the current Middle East countries mainly in Jerusalem. They are followers of Jesus Christ who is believed to have been sent to earth by God to spread the gospel. In his teaching, Jesus preached peace and forgiveness. This is seen as the base of Christianity and Christians are asked to forgive as many times as they can. This religion teaches its followers that they have the obligation of keeping peace and forgiving their brothers. It is to be understood that most wars in the modern world are caused by misunderstanding, lack of tolerance, and the need to exploit. In its teaching, Christianity emphasizes tolerance and understanding.
Christianity is thought to have undergone two phases. It is based on two sets of laws that are believed to have been given by God and which believers are supposed to follow. There was the law of Mosses which was given to the people of Israel and which emphasized wars. This law emphasized eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. This law did not have provisions for forgiveness. It emphasized revenge for any wrong that was done.
This law is believed to have been given to suit the time since by then Israelites were moving from slavery in Egypt to the promised land of Canaan. It was a time of conquering others to occupy their land. During that time there were a lot of wars. It is believed that God intervened in some wars and helped them to win.
This law would have fitted that time since they had to conquer others to liberate themselves. It is still ironic that the same religion which is supposed to pacify people and help them live in peace and harmony is still the one that emphasized the same people to fight. There are two kinds of fights that can be propagated by any people. People can fight to liberate themselves and they can also fight to conquer others and subdue them to their rule. During the time of Israelites, there were wars for both purposes. They were fighting to liberate themselves and at the same time, they were fighting to free themselves.
It is amazing how this religion designed the Israelites as the chosen people of God. After the death of Moses and the settlement of Israelites in Canaan, God sent his son Jesus who came with a new law. He preached peace and forgiveness. According to Robert Meyer (2006), the Christianity view of war is based on a famous Sermon on the Mount given by Jesus who gave three things on the subject of war. The teaching said that
- Blessed are the peacemakers.
- If your brother slaps you on one cheek, just give the other.
- Pray for your enemies and forgive those who persecute you.
These three teachings containing the teaching of Jesus Christ are the basis or the guiding principle to Christians about war. Christianity emphasizes that those who make peace in the world will be rewarded when they go to heaven. This principle helps Christians to cultivate peace. The leader of the Christian religion, the pope has on many occasions stressed the importance of solving the world crisis through dialogue instead of wars.
The former pope, Pope John Paul made many appeals to the world to uphold peace. The second principle contained in the teaching of Christianity emphasizes that when somebody slaps you, don’t slap back but instead give the other cheek to be slapped also. This principle stresses the importance of avoiding revenge. This is the new teaching of Christianity as compared to the old teaching by Moses which emphasized tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye. This shows that Christianity is a dynamic religion whose teaching recognized the change of time and does not emphasize war in modern times.
Their guiding principle is contained in their daily creed where believers ask God to forgive them as they forgive those who prosecute them. They also ask God to deliver them from evil. War is evil which Christians ask their God to help them avoid. The teaching also emphasizes the importance of praying for their enemies instead of cursing them. However, it is amazing how religion contradicts their teaching and sometimes may leave the followers confused.
If the same religion teaches that God made all people in his own image and in his likes, how then does it make some people more superior than others? This has been a conflict issue up to date in the Middle East. After the Second World War and the execution of millions of Jews, the United Nations resolved to settle the Jew in the region around Jerusalem in the same belief that they were the chosen people of God and they had made a pact with God in which they were granted the land around the great river the Euphrates. This has brought a lot of conflict between the Muslims and the Jews in Israel since Muslims claim to have occupied Jerusalem for a long time.
The war between Israel and Muslim Palestine may not settle in the near future due to the religious aspect attached to it with both religions claiming Jerusalem city as an important religious site to them. It is estimated that there are about 224 million Christian in America which is about three-quarters of the American population. However, there have been silences by Christian concerning the ongoing wars which are led by America to invade other nations like Iraq. There has been an outcry from Christians about the war but it is amazing that some of those who are proponents of the war in the legislative bodies are themselves Christians.
Muslim view of war
Islam is the religion of Muslims who believe in God who they call Allah and Mohammed who they believe is the prophet sent to earth by God to preach the Islam religion. In its teaching, Islam has a controversial view on a war based on its holy book, the Koran. The issue of Islam and war has been debated all over the world and particularly in the scholarly world. In its early days, this religion was spread in many areas through wars which they refer to as holy war or jihad. Again as I said before, religion is very contradictory. The same religion that is supposed to guard the life of people is the one again which is categorizing the war as a holy war and unholy war.
According to Islam, the holy war is a war that has a religious cause and is fought to defend and spread this religion. It is wondering how, if religion is supposed to safeguard lives, how it propagates for war in the name of subduing nonbelievers to believe in the religion. If we go down the books of history, many of the Jews are believed to have fled from their original land in Jerusalem after Muslims invaded their region and started killing people in a bid to change their religious beliefs. Many people view Islam as a militant creed. Many Muslims have died in the name of defending their religion.
The spread of Muslims is bound to human killing and unending suffering of nonbelievers of kafir. It is known that Mongols tells of their merciless invasion in which they were and thousand killed. But Muslims also claim to have been torture because they are believed to be a militant religion. According to Maqsood Jafri (2007), it is claimed that in Sudan, British soldiers cut off the heads of Muslims and sent them to be used as ashtrays due to the hatred they have for the religion.
But Muslims defend their religion and fiercely and emphasize that Jihad is the last result in Islam. The Koran teaches them to make peace with other people but it does not have an allowance for forgiveness like Christianity. Concerning peace, the Koran teaches that, “And if they incline to peace then incline to peace and put your trust in Allah.” (Koran verse, 8:61). This verse shows how Muslims who follows the teaching needs to make peace with others.
But it also gives them the right to defend themselves in case they are attacked. The Koran says that, “ Allah does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight you for your faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just – Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) faith, and drive you out of your homes and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection).
It is such as turn to them (in those circumstances), that do wrong.” (Koran verse, 60:8-9). In these verses, it is illustrated that Muslims are given the authority to attack others in the name of defending themselves in case they are attacked. Hence, unlike Christianity which teaches that you offer the second cheek for a slap, Muslims emphasize the need to avenge. It seems to follow the old teaching of Christianity which stressed the need to avenge.
Concerning the warring parties, Islam teaches that “if two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel, make peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bond against the other ten you (all) fight against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah: but it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah love who are fair (and just).” (Koran verse, 49:9)
Hinduism view of war
Hinduism is the religion followed by many people in Asia and believes in God who they call Buddha. Like other religions in believe war is bad since it leads to the killing of human beings. It believes that human life is sacred and should be guarded by all means. However, it also believes that in some cases resulting in war is a better way than staying with evil. The fact that Hinduism has a verse on war or the Gita which is considered a sacrosanct by Hindus does not justify that Hinduism believes in war.
This story tells of a woman Mahabharata who goes to fight in the battle of Kurukshetra. Lord Krishna drives Arjuna’s chariot and when they reach the middle of the battlefield, Arjuna is amazed to see that many of those in the warring army are his kins and immediately he refuses to fight to cite no need to kill his kinsmen in order to have victory and happiness. In the end, Krishna is able to convince Arjuna to war and they formed the next Gita and go to war. It is emphasized that wart is justified when it is only meant to fight evil or injustice in society. It should not be waged with the purpose of harassing or killing others or an act of superiority to others.
Hinduism has a concept of a nonviolent or noninjury approach called ahimsa. This concept was successfully employed by Mahatma Gandhi in fighting British oppression in India. The mere fact that the early scripture of Hindus described this act of war as necessary does not mean that war is necessary for all situations. It is also believed that time has changed fast and as we discussed earlier war has changed and it is no longer the physical war that was fought then using swords and arrows.
According to Michael Novak (1983), with the advance in technology, man has changed in the way they are fighting, and justifying war to fight evil may need to unnecessary war. War has gone chemical and if we justify the use of war in fighting evil, it may lead to the use of a nuclear weapon which may have other devastating effects on the world.
Hence it is time world religion started viewing the war from another angle and stop attaching the religious teaching to war. All religion agrees that war is evil and should be avoided. Hence religious leaders should be at the forefront in giving new interpreting to their congregation concerning the teaching of their religion and war. This is necessary in oared to save the world from many conflicts that have caused the death of many people. It is time religion emphasized the need to pacify the whole world and encourage inter-religious integration.
Oliver Thomas (2007. Christians view of war: the war in Iraq. CNN views Option.
Maqsood, J. (2007). The Islamic View on War; Qur’anic Inspirations Articles. Web.
Novak, M. (1983): Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age. Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Hinduism and Pacifism: A Hindu view on war and pacifism. Web.
Meyer, R. (2006). The ACLU’s Christian view of war. Web.