“I refuse to believe that those who bomb churches and cut off the heads of Christian monks and children in Syria are Muslims like the people our parents and grandparents live together with in peace and harmony.”

(former Jordanian MP, Ghazi Musharbash)

Ghazi Musharbash

Ghazi Musharbash

The brilliant thing about the conference that took place in Amman is that the participants recognise that fundamentalism, whatever religious garb it comes clothed in, is basically the same beast! 

I appreciate that this seems counter-intuitive. Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism seem to be at the opposite ends of the pole. In truth though they are two sides of the same coin! Both are characterised by the same mindless group-think and both share the same propensity for violence.

My understanding is that genuine religion always combines faith, hope and love – all three – and that it’s when one of these fundamental elements is left out that things degenerate into immorality and violence. Fundamentalism, as I see it, is a deadly combination of faith and hope that leaves out love, and when you leave out love you leave out God (see my sermon on the subject here).

The key thing is for Christians and Muslims to recognise is that fundamentalism is a common enemy. In my view, Christianity and Islam differ greatly as religions but fundamentalism really doesn’t deserve the label ‘religion’ at all!

Father Dave

source: Jordan Times

Extremism has no religion, can be fought through education — scholars

Extremism, a major dilemma facing the world today, is an ideology created and nurtured by radicals with a specific agenda and has no relation to religion or its high ethical and spiritual values, participants at a conference said on Wednesday.

Christianity and Islam do not divide people, but seek to bring them together, Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS) Director Michel Hamarneh told The Jordan Times.

“The call in both Christianity and Islam is for the better and brotherhood of human beings, in addition to spreading love and respect,” Hamarneh said at a conference on “Extremism… Reasons and Solution”.

The two-day event, which aims to spread the values of the Amman Message, hosted Muslim and Christian religious and political figures, as well as university professors from around the Middle East.

The Amman Message, issued in November 2004, “sought to declare what Islam is and what it is not, and what actions represent it and what actions do not. Its goal was to clarify to the modern world the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam,” according to its official website.

“The desired result is that decision makers attending the seminar will have a positive impact on the people around them, spreading awareness among the younger generation, but most importantly taking decisions that will positively change the existing conditions,” Hamarneh added.

In his opening address, he noted that the social and economic circumstances, such as unemployment and the different classes of society, have played a major role in nurturing extremism.

Hamarneh said media and education in “our societies” play a great role in creating extremism and extreme reactions, manipulating the minds and feelings of impressionable youths.

Mohammad Abu Zaid, a guest speaker from Lebanon who is a judge and professor of Islamic thought at the University of Saida, said the results of research and studies he conducted show that poor economic conditions in any society nurture extremism and terrorism.

He added that poverty alone does not create extremism, but is a major contributing factor.

Husni Ayish, Jordanian author and intellectual, told The Jordan Times that a serious society which seeks positive change should first start reviewing its educational system.

He warned against radical teachers and professors who spread extremist thought among their students, in addition to media outlets which, instead of raising awareness against terrorism, are but “extremists who encourage this exact thought”.

Ghazi Musharbash, a former MP, said Western media’s attack on the Middle East affects all Arabs, Christians and Muslims alike, “for the benefit of the Israelis”.

“The Western media tries its best to show that Arabs are terrorists, but the reality is that Israel is the terrorist country since it occupies Palestine,” Musharbash added.

“I refuse to believe that those who bomb churches and cut off the heads of Christian monks and children in Syria are Muslims like the people our parents and grandparents live together with in peace and harmony.”   

He added that it is crucial that the media, along with decision makers, should use the West’s own language to address its people and leaders. “We should be direct, instead of beating around the bush.”

Speaking at the event, Awqaf Ministry Secretary General Mohammad Roud said extremists and moderates are found in every religion, calling for differentiating between Islam and wrong practices in the name of Islam.

The media, he said, can play either a positive or negative role in feeding or reducing the impact of terrorism. 

“It is our role as decision makers, professors, preachers, priests and pastors to raise our children properly” to serve humanity and not give way to extremism, Roud added in a speech delivered on behalf of Awqaf Minister Hayel Dawood. 

Father Imad Twal, a Catholic priest, said accepting the other as is and granting all citizens, regardless of their religion, their rights is the only path to reaching and practising freedom.

The conference, supported by the EU, is organised by the RIIFS in cooperation with the ministries of awqaf and planning, and the British Council.