The widespread selling of indulgences, certificates showing that the sins committed by Christians had supposedly been forgiven by God, was first criticized by a German monk in 1517. These criticisms then spread rapidly. Nobody at that time knew that these criticisms would lead to developments that would devastate vast sections of Europe, depose kings and alter borders forever. The result was the emergence of the sect we know as Protestantism, opposed to the Catholic Church, and a literal storm of war that swept over all of Europe. That storm, the Thirty Years' War, not only led to the destruction of states but to the loss of almost one in three of the continent’s population!
That terrible slaughter is an important example of the tragedies to which sectarian wars can lead, and stands as a huge deterrent. That threat is now erupting in all its savagery in the Middle East and having the same destructive effect on Muslims.
The Intellectual Infrastructure of the Terror Organizations Inciting Sectarian Wars, and the Example of ISIS
When Saddam Hussein was deposed, many people, especially the US and the Iraqi people, thought that everything would now be rosy; yet increasingly severe sectarian fighting came to threaten the entire region.
One of the terror organizations responsible for inciting sectarian conflicts is the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (abbreviated as ISIS). It portrays itself as a supposed Islamic group, but is far removed from the lofty moral values of Islam. It is known for its terror attacks on Shiite Muslims. However, the true face and intellectual basis for the terrorist attacks of ISIS, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, emerged with the exposure of the names of its top leaders by the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry published photographs of the organization’s leadership and emphasized that one thing they all had in common was that they had served in the Iraqi Army during the time of Saddam Hussein. These leaders include Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, Abu Ahmad al-Alwani (real name Waleed Jassem al-Alwani) and Haji Bakr (real name Samir Abd Mouhammad al-Khleifawi). They were all raised in the culture of violence of the Ba’athist regime in Saddam’s time.
The Ba’ath Party is a leftist party and espouses Arab socialism. Ba’athism has nothing to do with the beautiful moral values of Islam.
The way that the Ba’athist regime adopts violence as a political tool to enforce its policies stems from the party’s links to Marxism and materialism. Marxism regards acts of violence and terror in which innocent people are hurt as necessary and useful because they prepare the climate of turmoil essential for revolution. As all Marxist publications say, it is a fact that Marxist socialist regimes regard the use of violence against their own citizens as legitimate in order to maintain power. Like many other Marxist parties, the Ba’athists also had no qualms about carrying out assassinations, bombings or even mass slaughter.
The leaders of the ISIS terror organization, which claims to be acting in the name of Islam (Islam is most certainly beyond that), lived under this Marxist indoctrination of violence and served in the army of the Marxist administration. These people’s false intellectual infrastructure never changed after the change of regime in Iraq, and they never understood or adopted the beautiful moral values of Islam, which stress love and affection.
In other words, a number of people who were raised in Saddam’s time removed their Ba’ath uniforms and adopted a supposed Islamic guise, and are still persisting with the same culture of violence. Those people who, in the past, killed Kurds in the north for the Ba’athist regime, are now perpetrating murder, supposedly in the name of religion for ISIS.
One can see the same effect in Syria today. It is true that the ruling elite in Syria consists of Nusayris; however, it would be very wrong to regard events in Syria as some manner of Sunni rebellion against the Nusayris. The reason for the uprising is not the sect of the administration, but the actions of a regime that oppresses its own people. Saddam’s Ba’ath Party and Assad’s Ba’ath Party are both socialist leftist parties with a common ideology that adopted the same Marxist and Leninist terror techniques to intimidate their peoples and both have systematically and ruthlessly repressed their respective citizens.
By applying the wicked methods of the Ba’athists instead of the lofty moral values of Shiite Islam, the Assad regime has lost all prestige and legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people. The bloodshed in Syria has nothing to do with whether people are Nusayri or Shiite; in all schools of Islam, Shiite, Sunni, Jafari or Maliqi, human beings are sacred entities that bear the spirit of God. The incorrect ideas that espouse the opposite, originating from fanatics and depicted as actually being part of the faith, do not reflect the Islamic perspective toward human beings. As we can see, however, sectarian divisions provide an advantage for those groups that wish to establish a climate of turmoil and terror in the region, and thus cause Muslims to face a fight for survival under very harsh conditions including war, hunger and cold.
It is a fact that some Muslims fall prey to incitement and attach credence to fabricated hadiths and fanatical ideas that support slaughter stemming from sectarian division: So much so that some fanatical religious teachers have issued fatwas, which have absolutely no place in Islam, to the effect that the killing of people from other sects and faiths is legitimate.
However, the idea of killing someone who thinks differently or believes differently has absolutely no place in Islam. Indeed, Islam requires us to avoid any behavior that might make such people feel uneasy in any way, let alone killing them. God says in the Qur’an that the way to wage jihad, to strive to spread the moral values of Islam in other words, is not by shedding blood, but through a struggle of ideas based on love and affection. This is how the Qur’an commands the finest behavior, even toward people with whom a state of hostility applies:
“A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else he will be like a bosom friend.”
(Surat al-Fussilat, 34)
It is a very grave error for Muslims to attack one another with rage and hatred despite this explicit command in the Quran. Muslims must at once abandon their error by setting aside all sectarian differences and unite in the way that God ordains. God has commanded in the Qur’an that all Muslims must act together as a single community:
“Hold fast to the rope of God all together, and do not separate. Remember God’s blessing to you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts together so that you became brothers by His blessing. You were on the very brink of a pit of the Fire and He rescued you from it. In this way God makes His signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be guided.”
(Surah Al-Imr’an, 103)
As revealed in the Qur’an, every dispute can be resolved by rational people of good conscience in a climate of peace, calm and compassion. Those who stand up for peace today will, by God’s leave, be instrumental in a most positive change.
Adnan Oktar's article on Al Hadath: