Mecca isn’t Medina

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Shortly one after the other in England there were attacks on civilians, even on children by people, who called themselves Muslims. Horrible. But how to understand that these people make this link? How can they identify themselves with Islam, though the most Muslims see their religion as peaceful? I will try to give an answer as a sociologist of religion.

The Qur’an is seen as a book of Allah, that has to be accepted as it has been written. We can understand this rule as based on the Arab culture. If someone pretends he can explain the Qur’an, then is the mistrustful reaction: which advantage you are looking for?

But when I tell them that, when they read the Qur’an, they already interpret this Holy Book by their own experiences in life they agree. Experiences in life are the key to understand the subject of this article.

It is known that the Qur’an mainly exists from two parts. Partially it has been written in Medina and partially in Mecca. This means a big difference.

When prophet Mohammed lived in Medina in exile, he depended on the willingness of the people of Medina. He didn’t have the guarantee that his safety would remain. Which price he had to pay to be sure that he would have the support of the people in Medina? His position couldn’t make him peaceful. He had to be tough against potential threats, even merciless to please the people, who protect him and who have their own foes. This made the part of the Qur’an written in Medina so violent. It was for the prophet Mohammed a matter of surviving. He didn’t have the opportunity to show his spiritual side.

People nowadays, who show merciless behaviour against any potential foe, use this part of the Qur’an to justify their behaviour.

The other part of the Qur’an had been written in Mecca, where the prophet Mohammed lived among his own people after they reconciled them. In the Arab culture reconciliation or Sulha guarantees safety. No longer there was a threat against the prophet Mohammed. Now he could elaborate his spiritual aim to promote faith of peaceful living together or Ummah. The most Muslims longing for this Ummah. They reject the violence by people like Daa’esh or IS.

An anecdote is the following: a Franciscan friar lived four years in El Qubeibeh near Ramallah. Once he met the imam from El Qubeibeh. This Imam told him: if Daa’esh comes here, they will kill you. But first they will kill me. This anecdote shows how people from Daa’esh are seen. They are merciless to anyone, who not fits with them, Christian and Muslim. Actually, they kill more Muslims than Christians.

These people reduce the Holy Qur’an to the Medina part and deny what the prophet Mohammed had written in Mecca, which is much more spiritual. This part inspires the most Muslims.

The question raises: how to tackle this one-sided perception on Islam?

At one side our world has to be a guaranteed safe place for every Muslim as it has to be for every other human being. At the other side, Sulha or reconciliation has to be realized between Daa’esh and the world community based on the recognition by people of Daa’esh their wrongdoings according to Muslim rule in a way that it is clear for the rest of mankind that justice is realized. They have to take their responsibility for what they have done, recognizing that only Allah has the right to be the final Judge.

A very challenging task for the white Western world is to recognize how they by their attitude of superiority over other people for centuries was a fertile ground for feelings of unsafety to other people. This is a complicated problem. The East admires the West for its achievements but rejects at the same time its attitude.

May real peace prevail. May Mecca prevail over Medina.

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Louis Bohte ofm

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