The issue of a jihad, or holy war is a term brought from the bible to give bearing to the conquest of the land of one by the request of God. If and what relevance does this term have to the world as we know it today? The ongoing conflict in the Middle East is a prime example that it is still an issue and probably always will be.
This ethical problem deeply affects three of the most prominent influences on the way each culture in the world operates. First is the political aspect. The Israeli possession of Palestine, treatment of the Palestinian people, and the habitation of the West Bank all make us vulnerable when taking either side. Meaning we put ourselves in a situation where we automatically make an enemy. This brings the second point into perspective. How should we act in warfare? Should we be participants or just object and watch, because how do we know if God is on the same side we are and what the consequences of the actions will be. The third point is that with the above in mind, how does this affect our view on the character of a god who can judge a group and be fair to each of us individually.
There are two basic ethical decisions when deciding upon where to stand on the view of a holy war. Is it right or is it wrong? The view that holy war is moral and right comes from the term Graded Absolutism. This states that killing is clearly against God s law, but God exempted Israel from breaking these in order to satisfy higher laws (Geisler 27, 115-118). The other is Unqualified Absolutism. This states just the opposite, that it is wrong no matter what, and that God s law against killing is a moral absolute that must not be broken. (Geisler 27).
What were the reasons for the arise of a holy war? From my reading I have found four distinct events that led to the start of each war. First, each followed an outcry against a nation that practiced extreme, widespread violence and cruelty. Also, each was preceded by extensive exposure to truth and godly examples. Next, is that a chance to escape is given to each either by virtue or by heeding warnings. Finally, every instance comes from almost no one heeding the preceding warnings, those who did have been rescued.
So where is the point of no return? The only way that has been found has been by crossing it. Many say it is when the innocent die. Others say it is when conquest results in extermination of a culture. In applying the above information to the current situation in Israel and the continuation of dispute over the land between them and the Palestinians it seems neither has crossed that line, but each have gained the interest of the entire world on what each are fighting for and how long they will be willing to fight for it. It seems to me that no matter what steps are taken to aid the peace process between the two nations that nothing will end the argument on who is entitled to the land.
Each of the religious backgrounds behind the feud are too deep for most of the rest of the world to understand. These people set religion before anything else and that is what they base this deep belief in what is theirs in. It won t be until an understanding in what has happened to each of the opposing parties in the past is obtained, that a resolution will be in sight. The United States will not be the nation that is involved in this process either. This is due to the fact that our nation has driven religion as far away from the everyday life as is possible. No prayer in school and the non-existence of religion in many public, and political places keeps us from reaching the understanding involved in what is happening overseas.
Going along with the isolated conflict between those two nations, the terrorist threat from the Islamic nations to the U.S. is much of a similar form of holy war. The group involved in the numerous bombings throughout the world base their activities on an Islamic reawakening . This group is known as HAMAS, this group is set on creating a pan-islamic state in the Middle East. They also see themselves in a worldwide war against the West. So why is it that no one has yet to understand the why in all of this?
There are entirely too many different interpretations of the holy scriptures of each religion to give an explanation of this madness. This makes me think about the class I took at Manchester College on the Old Testament. From what I ve understood of that class, the world was full of killing, conquest, and all from the word of God. Our professor there told us he was not there to inflict a point of view upon us or even give his ideas at all on what was being said, but to enable us to understand the basic meaning and allow us to make our own judgment on what it was trying to convey. This is important information for everyone who thinks they can give resolve to the holy war issues in the world today. We just need to focus on one part at a time and do our best to help create as much peace as possible. It is doubtful that much progress will ever come of all this. The PLO, or Palestine Liberation Organization is the best attempt at a peaceful resolution to the conflict. They have at numerous different times forced the Israeli forces back to there homeland and kept the area as calm as possible to aid in negotiating a resolve.
However, the gulf war and Saddam Hussein brought all that back up to speed when he unleashed a series of bombings on Israel and brought the United States over into the conflict. This put more publicity on the area, making it a worldwide problem. The publicity along with the world s dependency on that area for oil has created a huge focal point for war and who will side with who based on what they need from one another not what is right or wrong.
The saying that history repeats itself comes true here. Like the initial conquest of Cana by the Israelites, the question of right or wrong is now thrown aside based on politics. This time the politics of what one nation can get from another and what a nation will think of the decision of the leader and how they will vote when the time comes instead of what their god will punish them for and what he will deem acceptable is what the focus is on.
Many ignorant people make judgments based on what they hear on the radio, see on the news, or read in the paper on what they think should be done to help the situation of jihad. These are the same people who will not ever experience or gain the necessary knowledge to make an accurate analysis of the situation. When put in the situation I could not imagine waking to the sounds of mortar shells hitting the ground or having to carry an automatic rifle in the streets to defend myself from someone of different religious ideologies.
Even after this research I am not perfectly clear on where I stand on this issue. I do believe there are extenuating circumstances to where war is necessary, and also that the war over what is written in the holy scriptures of the world are extremely important but the killing of innocent people is wrong and warring over this dispute of land is unnecessary because there should be a mutual understanding and they could live together if they chose to do so.