I've just read about the bombing and partial destruction of the Al-Askari mosque in Iraq. Needless to say, the news saddens and angers me. Muslims have enough problems without blowing up each others cultural heritage and/or killing each other over sectarian differences. Of course, the mosque incident is not isolated. I regularly hear of attacks upon Shi’ites, Ismailis, or Ahmedis in Pakistan. In Iran there are pogroms against the Bahai's who are viewed as heretical Muslims. And the Shi'a-Sunni tension in Iraq is certainly not new.
While we may disagree about certain tenets of Islam -- and some of those differences are significant -- the proper response is to leave the matter to Allah. It says in the Qur’an, (32:25) “Verily, it is God alone who will decide between people on Resurrection Day with regard to all on which they were wont to differ.” And the Qur’an repeatedly counsels tolerance for disagreements on matters of faith:
2:256 Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.
10:99 And had thy Sustainer so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained to faith, all of them: do you, then, think that you could compel people to believe?
18:29: “And say: ‘The truth has come from your Sustainer: let, then, him who wills, believe in it, and let him who wills, reject it.’"
109:6 To you your way, to me mine.
How can anyone justify killing, looting, burning and bombing, then, in response to differences in theology??? In no case can violence against people of differing beliefs be justified, simply on the basis of their belief.
This goes for interfaith violence, such as the recent arson of churches in Nigeria and Pakistan as well. There is no justification for burning or destruction of the sacred buildings of other faiths. The same verses which apply to Muslim on Muslim violence apply to violence against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or members of other religious group. Tolerance and acceptance is the Islamic response to diversity. Political motivations, outrage over cartoons, religious bigotry, and fear of diversity are not acceptable excuses for murder, arson, and rampaging.
This intolerance is, of course, also manifested in the whole blasphemy/apostate mess. The favorite tool of so many Islamists and oppressive "Muslim" governments is to label an outspoken critic as a blasphemer or, God forbid, an apostate. A "crime" which earns a death sentence, or long-term incarceration. Something like 11 Arab journalists and editors have been imprisoned because they criticized Muslims for their reactions to the cartoons, or reprinted the cartoons in their newspapers.
What an unholy mess this world is in!
Of course... there are times when I can sympathize with these crazies -- times when I'd rather like to line them all up against a wall and open fire and then let the rest of us sane folks get with life... thankfully, that's just a momentary flash of fanciful wish-gratification, and then I return to my sanity.