There is No Compulsion Where Religion is Concerned

25 06 2013

No matter from which line of thought, religion, or nation people may come from, one of the most important requests of all people in our day is freedom. People remain healthy as long as they feel free in the corporal and mental sense, express themselves freely and live as they wish. A person who is taken under pressure in any realm of his life no sooner starts to lose his peace, joy and the capacity to produce. When one recalls the cold, joyless expression, and the dullness in the eyes of the majority of people in the Soviet Russia and China in recent history, one will once again remember how, in human life, it is important to think freely and lead a free life.

Freedom, which is an important part of human life and raises the quality of life, is a blessing granted by God to human beings. Some people who do not know the morality of religion, and especially Islam or obtain information from inaccurate sources and examples may harbor several prejudices and erroneous convictions about this subject. Though having no accuracy whatsoever, these people assume that Islam will limit their living spaces and freedom, take their thoughts under control and restrict arts and science. The fact is however that Islam is a religion that ensures all kinds of intellectual freedom as well as freedom of worship and expression, that takes all kinds of rights of people under protection and, more importantly, presents real freedom to people.

However, the following fact should be clear: God wishes ease, comfort, happiness and joy to people. God does not wrong people. The religion, which is the commandment of God, also shows people the way to the most peaceful, blissful, safest, highest quality, comfortable, and delightful life. There is no compulsion where religion is concerned. A person believes in God and lives by religion, by seeing God’s existence and oneness by using his conscience. Religion is an acceptance by the heart. If a person is obliged to live a religious life by force, then this person does not become devout and he simply becomes a hypocrite. As we are informed in the Qur’an, a hypocrite is someone who deserves God’s torment and whose place is at the bottom of Hell. Furthermore hypocrites not only give harm to themselves, with their insincere and tricky nature, but also they pose a threat for society as a whole.

Generating such a peril with one’s own hands, bringing hypocrites and a system of hypocrisy into being is something that Muslims would by no means wish. Every Muslim, as a requisite of the morality of the Qur’an, is responsible for showing people the true path, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. But this never means to oblige others to think, live, act and dress like oneself. A Muslim shows the truth and leaves the choice to the person himself. This is the commandment God informs us in the Qur’an.

Along with this, a Muslim wishes all sorts of thoughts and beliefs to be freely expressed in the society. He respects the opinions, views and lives of others. He wishes the systems that are not in compliance with the morality of religion, and even irreligious, atheist ideologies and views to be explained, so that he can respond to them in the scientific and ideological sense. Prohibiting views and ideologies, taking them under pressure is not ease for a Muslim. On the contrary, this is a state that will make the communication of the religion difficult, and render the scientific struggle harder. In an environment where everyone can express their thoughts openly, religion develops easily and becomes even stronger.

Burcu Cekmece


Building Bridges – Istanbul, Turkey

Uniting Against The Threat Of Radicalism

18 06 2013

It is very obvious that radical tendencies, irrespective of their origin, are one of the most dangerous threats to world peace and security. Radicalism means to advocate fundamental and sudden changes by means of uncompromising and hard-line policies. Radicals seek such changes by employing cunning and often aggressive policies. One of radicalism’s characteristic traits is the angry attitude visible in its adherents’ speeches, books, and demonstrations. Radical movements are dominated by blindly advocated taboos, instead of conscious behavior, and reflect amass psychology. This psychology, in turn, can get so out of control that people, who no longer know what they are doing or why, turn their aggression on others. In an environment where love, affection and understanding have ceased to exist, people begin to feel animosity toward different ideologies or races without knowing what the other party really represents or believes.

Thousands of people died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Ignorance enables radicalism to find new recruits, even though it is a harmful and destructive movement. Misinformed or one-sidedly informed people are vulnerable to extremist movements, whose philosophical programs they adopt without careful reflection. This is why education is an essential aspect of the ideological fight against radicalism.

In our own time, radicalism has emerged among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. This situation is abused and taken advantage of by proponents of Samuel Huntington’s proposed clash of civilizations theory. The scale of radicalism’s threat to world peace has become apparent in the 9/11 attacks on the United States and its consequences. The fact that these attacks are widely believed to have been carried out in the name of Islam resulted in a great deal of prejudice against Muslims and misunderstanding of Islam. Given the fact that Islam prohibits all acts of violence and aggression, most of the Islamic world condemned these terrorist attacks. Muslims prayed alongside Christians for the innocent lives lost, and American Muslims rushed to the aid of the victims. Despite this, prejudice against Muslims in the United States and some European countries has vastly increased, and incidences of violence have been reported. The arguments of those radicals who seek to divide the world into two warring factions have created an atmosphere of anxiety.

Certain circles tried to blame all Muslims for the 9/11 attacks, even though Islamic morality forbids violence and aggression. After the attacks, President Bush visited a mosque in Washington, DC, where he stated that Islam is a religion of peace and advised Americans to beware people who seek to misinform them. Muslims and Christians prayed together for all of those who lost their lives in the attacks.

In order to eradicate radicalism and its damaging consequences, cultural and educational campaigns designed to reach all sections of society must be organized. We can list the topics and the responsibilities of various sections of society to be covered by this program, as follows:

– Being aware that radicalism, an extremist tendency, that is incompatible with true religious morality, must be defeated ideologically so that its claim to be acting in the name of religion can be exposed as false. People of all three divinely revealed religions must be told that they have a responsibility to be compassionate, patient, gentle, friendly, polite, and respectful. They have to be made aware that God forbids violence, aggression, and anything that harms innocent people. They must understand that it is wrong to go down that path. These efforts will ensure that people who emerge, supposedly in the name of religion, and who support harshness and violence will be recognized as misguided liars and thereby prevented from finding new recruits.

– A program must be designed to give full and accurate information about all parties involved in the conflict, so that international cooperation becomes possible. An important step toward mutually friendly relations is the creation of an environment in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims can begin to know each other’s beliefs, traditions, and rituals better. This can be done through cultural and educational programs. As people come to know each other better, they will realize that they have many things in common. This, in turn, will make reconciliation possible. Muslims, Christians, and Jews should tell one another about their respective worldviews in line with God’s divine books of revelation, thereby preventing the mutual misunderstanding and radicalism caused by a lack of accurate knowledge.

– The media must support the cultural activities necessary to create an environment conducive to international cooperation. They should refrain from sensationalism, which incites violence and segregation, and focus on broadcasts that encourage moderation, affection and understanding. Carefully prepared broadcasts by the western media will play an important role in eradicating the currently widespread anti-Muslim prejudice. Muslim media organizations, for their part, must refrain from broadcasts and opinions that incite hatred toward non-Muslims and concentrate instead on cultural and spiritual education in the Islamic world.

– Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders and opinion makers must identify people who are bent on portraying myths and false beliefs as part of the religious code. They must teach people that God commands believers to be balanced and gentle, and that all extremism is incompatible with religious morality. Political leaders must support this awareness campaign in order to prevent extremism in society and must prepare the necessary ground so that a moderate conception, one that is compatible with religious moral values, should rule.

These and similar joint efforts will eradicate the conditions conducive to radicalism. In addition, believers must begin to show sincere respect for others’ beliefs and values. Genuine believers must seek to draw closer to God instead of accusing one another. They should concentrate on enhancing their sincerity and work to earn God’s good pleasure and mercy. In the following verse God reveals that people who act otherwise are wrong:

The Jews say: »The Christians have nothing to stand on,« and the Christians say: »The Jews have nothing to stand on,« yet they both recite the Book. Those who do not know say the same as they say. God will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding the things about which they differ. (Surat Al-Baqara: 113)

Eradicating the harm caused by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim radicals is possible only if all moderate, peace-loving, civilized, and genuinely religious people cooperate and form an alliance. Such an alliance will defeat those who present war and conflict as the only option, and disprove the assertions of those who advocate a show of force as the only way to achieve security and prevent further bloodshed, tears, and material damage.

Burcu Cekmece


Building Bridges – Istanbul, Turkey


Let’s accentuate the common values of the three monotheistic religions

22 05 2013

The culture of co-existence is a core value of Islam. In many past societies  that were ruled by Islamic laws,  we see many examples of this co-existence that left their mark on history: TheOttoman Empire is surely one of these. However the winds of Islamophobia instigated by the Western world and the enmity against the West experienced by the Islamic countries aim to drive these two great civilizations apart to the point of setting them against one another. Meanwhile the worldwide disaster that will arise from such hostility – which is being advocated by some circles – is not given due consideration.

This being the case, how can the culture of co-existence be fortified?

The best way to hinder the conflict between the West and the Islamic Civilization is to deepen the common concepts such as love, compassion, mercy, cooperation, tolerance and justice, and to bolster solidarity and all sorts of cooperation between these civilizations, for in point of fact, there really are no deep differences, cultural gaps or conflicting cultural values between Islamic civilization and the Western world  as is so often asserted. On the very contrary, there are many common values shared by the Judeo-Christian cultures that lay the basis of   Islamic civilization and the Western civilizations. The members of the three divine religions believe in the existence of Allah, in the resurrection after death, in paradise, hell and the angels. They believe that Allah created the universe from nothing and that He created everything in line with an explicit destiny. These common values are not limited to issues related with faith alone: The moral values of the People of the Book – that is to say the Christians and Jews as they are referred to in the Qur’an – and Muslims are in great harmony. In our day, when moral degeneration has rapidly gathered speed, the People of the Book and Muslims aim for a model of a human being who is just, chaste, self-sacrificing, honest, compassionate, merciful, humble, truthful, loving, forgiving and gracious. They believe that every individual in this world should avoid pretension and hypocrisy, should respond to  evil with goodness and to display all these virtues.

This being the case, what must be accomplished is to resolve the problems of the world by giving emphasis to these common values – which exceed   the differences – and work towards cooperation based on love, compassion and mercy. It does no good  to insist on settling  the accounts of the past and to dwell on previous conflicts in order to come with new desires for revanchism. This is the time to close the pages of the history books  and to unite our forces for a better future.

Ebru Altan

Building Bridges – Istanbul, Turkey

And the winner is Israel.

6 08 2012

This year US presidential election is perhaps the most expensive in history with the least issues concerning America and Americans with the American/Israeli Jewish businessman Sheldon Edelson calling the shots and shaping the election.


2% of the US population, 60% of political donations and with “Israel First” as the only agenda, no wonder both candidates are tripping over themselves and each other in winning the votes and donations of the American Jewish community. In this US presidential election, America and Americans is the loser and Israel is the winner and its Fifth Column reign supreme. Read the rest of this entry »

Timbuktu; the Age of Ignorance.

6 07 2012

Sami Jamil Jadallah


Too bad the destruction of Islamic land marks in Timbuktu by the criminal thugs called “Ansar El-Islam/Supporters of Islam” did not generate or illicit the strong condemnations denunciations and material actions it deserves from the religious leaders of Al-Azhar, Mecca, Qom and Najaf. At best the condemnation was muted if not apologetic. Read the rest of this entry »

The “Brothers” are coming, the “Brothers” are coming!

30 06 2012

Sami Jamil Jadallah


No, not the Brothers Karamazov but the Muslim Brothers. Any one who listens to popular media and politicians in Israel and the US would think that the Muslim Bothers are coming from Mars, invading the planet Earth, changing our ways of life and turning democracies to theocracies. Read the rest of this entry »

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