Are Muslims Enemies of Peace? – Part 1
By Dr Javed Jamil
International Centre for Applied Islamics
Since the early successes in the miraculous rise of Islam, the religion has been maligned for adopting violent means in its propagation. Such a response from the rejecters of Islam was nothing extraordinary, as its ascent was too phenomenal to be recognised by the opponents as the impact of its highly superior spiritual and socio-political ideology. There have been numerous rebuttals to the thesis that the primary cause of Islam’s rise has been the use of military might. I do not want to discuss the old history here. The way the facts are being distorted however about the developments in the past two centuries is nothing but an ugly manifestation of the designs of the dominant forces of the world to mislead and misguide the world. After subjugating Christianity as a religion in their own fortresses and vanquishing Communism outside their domains, all attention has now been focussed on Islam and Muslims. They are being perceived as the only remaining threat to the designs of the economic fundamentalists in recent decades. The attack on Twin Towers has provided them the "proof" of their worst fears and the ground for alerting that this blossoming threat must be nipped in the bud. So multiple fronts have been opened to finish this off or at least contain it. While Bush and Blair in league with their "allies" are busy defeating the "enemies" militarily, media and literature have become battlegrounds for thinkers and analysts to bombard Islam and Muslims with their hate-bombs and lie-missiles. The arguments being advanced are:
First, Muslims are the most violent people of the world. They are ruthless murderers who need no sympathy or understanding. Euphemistically perhaps, some have started arguing that while all Muslims are not terrorists all terrorists are Muslims.
Second, if Muslims are prone to indulging in violence, its roots lie in the very foundations of their religion that promotes violence against "unbelievers." If Muslims are indulging in terrorist attacks, it is because Muhammad (Peace be upon him!) too indulged in similar attacks.
Third, Muslims want to pursue their medieval culture and are not ready to accept the modern, "peace-loving" civilisation of the West. Muslim countries are undemocratic having no regard for human rights, particularly the rights of women and minorities.
Fourth, Muslims demonstrate mutual brotherhood, which endangers the very survival of the "civilised world."
We will deliberate on each of these accusations one by one.
Are Muslims the most violent people on the face of the earth?
Though Hindu fundamentalists in India too have incessantly been engaged in similar propaganda, in recent years, the Westerners -- Christians, Jews and atheists, have been the biggest votaries of this thesis. But when we examine the facts, the truth emerges to the contrary. First, Christians have been the most violent people in the world especially in the last 150 years. Jews have not had many opportunities but whenever they got some, they have not remained far behind. Second, Western countries have not only used violent methods against others with impunity, internally too they have been the most violent nations. Third, Muslims have been much more the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence. Fourth, Muslims despite their weaknesses on some fronts are currently one of the most peaceful people of the world—individually, socially as well as politically. Fifth, in the so-called War against terrorism, Muslim countries and Muslims have been on the forefront along with Western powers. Sixth, whenever and wherever Muslims have resorted to violence, this has been the reaction of having been deprived of their genuine rights and of having been subjected to long periods of oppression, exploitation and treachery. Some action of some of the disillusioned elements might not have been the true representation of Islamic spirit – hence not condonable -- but their actions are understandable given the frustration and desperation they find themselves in.
Let us first look at the history and extent of violence, social and political as well as domestic and international. When we analyse the international crime statistics, we find that the very nations, which boast of being the leaders of the "civilised" world, prove to be the most barbaric. Here is the list of top fifty countries in terms of the rate of murders:
Source: Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1998 - 2000 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Centre for International Crime Prevention)
The list tells that most of the countries listed are predominantly Christian countries including the bastions of the Western World: US, UK, France, Germany, South Africa, Canada and Australia. Though Muslim countries form one third of the total number of countries, only three Muslim countries, Yemen, Malaysia and Azerbaijan (that has more of a communist than Islamic history) appear in the list. There are no Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt and Indonesia, the countries that are supposed to be the biggest representatives of the Islamic world. Malaysia appears at the lower end. Obviously the murder rates in these countries as well as other Islamic countries are extraordinarily low. Most of the 60 odd Muslim countries occupy places in the last eighty countries. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have traditionally been the lowest crime prone countries though the latter has witnessed some rise in crime rate recently. Not only the US has one of the highest crime rates among the major countries, Washington and New York alternately continue to earn the epithets of "the crime capital" of the world. This is despite the fact that the US has the most developed legal machinery with maximum number of policemen and lawyers per 1000 population. A US website copyrighted by The Father’s Manifesto makes mockery of the legal system of the US by citing several important statistics. Some of its observations are worth reproducing here:
" … We have 60 times as many lawyers as Japan, which has 4 times as many engineers as us….. one of the most incredible accomplishments of American lawyers was to attain the undisputed world's highest incarceration rate at the very same time that they attained the world's third highest murder rate, something that an effective justice system would have a difficult time justifying. If incarceration is an effective deterrent to crime, then why should both our incarceration and murder rates have increased more than ten fold in parallel with each other during the 20th Century? If we had a high incarceration rate but a low murder rate, then the high incarceration rate would be justified. Or if we had a low incarceration rate but a high murder rate, then it could be argued that the high murder rate was the direct result of our low incarceration rate. But when both rates increased in parallel from one of the world's lowest to one of the world's highest all within one century, you have to question the efficacy of feeding this many lawyers, and you have to wonder what it is about having so many lawyers that we also have so many criminals and prison inmates. And you have to question why the number of all three (criminals, inmates, and lawyers) increased so dramatically at the same time…… . Many of the Muslim countries that we're intent on bombing into oblivion so that we can "improve" their lives by imposing our "solutions" upon them also have lower crime rates than us. The UN data for Turkey, which is available on the Internet shows that if we had had a crime rate equivalent to Turkey’s, then just last year we would have had:
The following table also proves the fact that there is high incarceration rate in America and other "developed" nations:
In the above table, Russia and the US occupy the top positions. The first major Muslim country appearing in that table is listed at No. 33, which has an incarceration rate about one seventh of that of the US. The crimes against women show similar results, but this will be discussed a little later. The fact that the US has one of the highest murder rates and the second highest incarceration rate can be regarded as ample proof of the rising criminal tendencies of the American people. But more than that it is the proof of the total failure of American judicial system, and still more the proof of the negative impact of social, political and economic policies, which ultimately branch out from the root of economic fundamentalism. (People of any country are not inherently bad. It is the system that grooms them into good and bad.) In America, more than 18000 people are murdered on average every year, according to the statistics. Compare this with about 600 murders per year in Saudi Arabia, and it leads to the conclusion that the former has at least three times the murder rate than the later. The situation in most of the other Muslim countries is even batter. The more Islamic a society and its laws the lesser are the rates of almost all crimes.
The crime situation is in fact far worse in Western countries than what is represented by the statistics related to murders. With highly improved medical techniques and emergency measures, the victims have now much lesser chances of succumbing to their injuries than was the case about 40 years back. A study done by U Mass Amherst sociologists Anthony R. Harris and Gene A. Fisher, Dr. Stephen H. Thomas of the Harvard Medical School and David J. Hirsh of the University of Massachusetts Medical School says:
"The level of violence from assaults in America has risen dramatically over the past 40 to 50 years at the same time that guns have become more lethal and available….But because of the vast improvements in the nation’s access to and quality of emergency medical care – particularly since the Vietnam War – the outcome of these assaults is far less likely to be lethal…..People who would have ended up in morgues 20 years ago are now simply treated and released by a hospital, often in a matter of a few days…. And people who would have faced the death penalty 20 years ago are now simply guilty of felonious assault, treated and released by prisons, often in a matter of a few years."
It was concluded that the primary reason for the dropping lethality rate is a set of medical variables. The report adds:
"Against a baseline of 1960, we estimate that without this technology, the U.S. would presently be experiencing 45,000 to 70,000 homicides a year instead of an actual 15,000 to 20,000." (Findings are from May 2002 issue of Homicide Studies)
It can be safely argued that the rate of murderous assaults in USA is more than 10 times the rate of major Muslim countries.
(Excerpted from Dr. Javed Jamil’s Islam means Peace")
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