Mecca, Saudi Arabia, May 11 – In this birthplace of Islam, worshipers celebrate the Religion of Peace by coming together as one Umma, or nation, dedicated to submission to God, imposing that submission by the sword if necessary.
Of the dozens of armed conflicts taking place around the world, groups self-identifying as adherents of the Religion of Peace are participants in more than 25 of them, ranging from train-station-stabbing-attack Uighur separatists in China to the schoolgirl-kidnapping Boko Haram militia of Nigeria. Their peaceful methods are on display whether the conflict is raging between rival factions in a multi-party civil war, such as in Iraq, or between an embattled central government and Islamic rebels, as in Egypt.
In some cases, as in Syria, both are the case at once, highlighting the peace-loving nature of the fighters who torture and behead prisoners and dissenters. A favorite activity to promote peace involves the abduction of foreigners, especially journalists, so that the victims’ lives can be used for peaceful extortion.
The ultimate goal for many of the Islamic organizations engaged in these peaceful wars is the establishment of a state run under Islamic law, a system known for its fostering of peaceful conflict resolution through the beheading, dismembering, or stoning of offenders, as can be seen in the peaceful societies of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, for example. An important model for the prosperous future that awaits victory in those struggles can be found in Somalia, where anarchy and piracy go hand-in-hand with gang-rape of women accused of immodesty.
Many of the Muslim groups involved in the lethal peaceful conflicts are not specifically driven by Islam per se, such as in Chechnya or Dagestan, but employ their peaceful train-station bombings and suicide attacks against Russian targets merely to signal their desire for political independence; the same developments can be seen emerging among the Uighurs of China. In these conflict zones, the Religion of Peace has served as a moderating factor, helping the belligerents channel their aggression in the specific direction of the enemy’s civilian populace instead of directing it exclusively at, for example, local Jews.
The root of the word “Islam” itself is the same as the root of the word for “peace” in all the Semitic languages, a fact that helps explain the smooth relations currently enjoyed by Israel and its northern neighbor, Hezbollah-run Lebanon, and Hamas-run Gaza to the south. These neighbors often display their peaceful intentions toward Jews by launching rockets and mortar bombs at Israelis, enhancing Islam’s image as a tolerant cultural force and cementing its status as the Religion of Peace.