However, aside from that spot on analysis, I disagree with your conclusion. I was not trying to downplay the influence of religion in war, however some folks rarely acknowledge the politics. War is a political action, and again, human beings are religious, so inherently war like all human activities becomes religious. However, my argument and my perspective, is that when analyzing wars the geopolitical, economic, and sociocultural factors must take rank above the religious motivations.
I am not sure I agree with that. As I wrote, there are both religious and political motivations in everything (not just war), but when the people themselves decide to put their religious motivations for engaging in political behavior
ahead of secular motives, then I do not see how you can say that the geopolitical factors must take rank above religious motivations (because, again, I don't see how you can separate the two, especially with regard to Islam since it professes theocracy as its explicit goal). I firmly believe that the Al-Qaeda types of the world see the current struggles they are engaged in in cosmic terms, such that even if the struggle on the ground is between Muslims and the government (whether a local government or a foreign government/occupation), the way they conceptualize it (not just
the way they talk about it) is against Islam and not Islam (a non-Muslim religion or philosophy, or a lax/apostate regime). Of course, in all such conflicts, not Islam must be destroyed so that Islam can prevail and prevent corruption in the land, and blahblahblahblah.
Now, I am NOT saying that this kind of view is legitimate or the the view of all Muslims (or that this even really needs to be put in terms of Muslims v. everybody else, because I don't want to validate that outlook), but I am saying that this strong religious-political ideology is not just couched in religious language, but thought of in religious terms. It is similar, though not a perfect comparison, to the quasi-religious fervor for Marxism and communism in other times and places, or maybe Nazism during the height of Hitler's Germany (Hitler's often-observed "Messiah complex" is not just a convenient label for a delusion; if you look at his political
rhetoric, it essentially has all the hallmarks of a prophetic religious system by another name).
So again, there is no real point in making such a strict separation between the political aims and the religious views that inevitably drive them. The two feed off each other in a kind of sick symbiosis.
Surely religion is very much a part of why people go to war, even say US soldiers fighting in seemingly non-religious military operations from Afghanistan to Colombia. People take their religion with them on the march, especially considering the circumstances.
With the Gragn, surely his hording armies brought their religion with them, and yet to a degree theirs was not a holy war so to speak, because even when Christians crusade how we can really say people are being "religious" while shedding each others' blood?
Ah, see, but I think you are making a mistake here, my friend: You start out talking about Gragn and his Muslim army, and then end by comparing them to the Christian standard of behavior or warfare. I think they are two separate standards. I see no such repudiation of Islamic war tactics (Muhammad's raids and whatnot) on the part of the Muslims that could be comparable to the repudiation of the Crusades by the inheritors of the Crusader "christianity". This clearly shows a different modus operandi at work among Muslims, relating back to their political and social stagnation that at its roots came with the liquidation of non-Muslim populations under expanding Islam. So for Muslims, it is a matter of "if it helps spread Islam, then it is religiously sanctioned/purified". (~ good, or at least never something to disavow)
At the exact moment of carnage, there is no motivation other then the fight or flight self-preservation reaction to the danger of combat.
Well, yes, but couldn't you say that about anything? In the exact moment of grocery shopping, it isn't about eating the food, but that certainly is the goal (and not by any less an essential part of the human person than religion, right? A person has to eat!). In the exact moment of flying on a plane, it's not about the destination, but just like war, you have to go through a potentially quite long and unpleasant experience to get to where you want to be...
What keeps soldiers fighting month after month, year after year? A cocktail of the material gains of successful battles, the thrill of battle, the ideological pats on the back, the sentiment of revenge or justice, and of course the peer pressure of group-think.
Indeed. And somewhere in there, for those who are so inclined, a religious view of the world that imparts a sense of holiness on all of these things.
Religious thinking is part of the universal human experience (even atheists are absorbed in religion just to oppose it) and so of course it is part of war, but I think it is simplistic to assume that religion is in any way a primary motivator for actual combat, and so I would say there are really no religious wars at all.
Hmmm. I would reply that there is no conflict in which religion is the only
motivation, but there are plenty in which it is the primary motivation. Take, for instance, the Abu Sayyaf militant Islamic group in the Philippines. Ostensibly, they are fighting to liberate the Muslim-populated southern islands of the Philippines from domination of the central government. Here's the thing, though: They already have that
, in the form of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (that's the official name of the region!). They're the ONLY population in the Philippines that has such autonomy. And really, it only makes sense to have a "Muslim region" or government in Mindanao proper, as it is the only
region in the Philippines with a significant Muslim presence. The rest of the population is largely Catholic, and the rest of the country is governed as a Constitutional Republic.
So...we have a group operating within an already "liberated" Muslim region to liberate...their already liberated region.
Given that, what do you think that the group REALLY wants? I'll quote the BBC here: "Analysts say such attacks show the group - which is believed to have a core membership of around 200 - is trying to spark a religious war. The Philippines Government says Abu Sayyaf has been trying to evict Christians from its Basilan Island base." (source
As I wrote earlier, it is about establishing Muslim dominance or control over all non-Muslim things (people, land, history, etc). That is explicitly a religious goal. In the Abu Sayyaf's case, they try to paint it in political terms, but since they already have what they say they want, what they really want is not hard to see by their actions.It should be stated that Christians form a majority of the population of the "Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao",
My point: it is naive for us to say that Islam is a warrior religion or that Islam does not distinguish between political and religious wars.
Not any more naive than to say that it is not. And my point was not meant to be that Islam does not distinguish between political and religious aims in war (such that they would not make a distinction between gaining mere territory and gaining converts), but that Islam does not distinguish between the political and the religious period. That's the essence of what theocracy is. The two are intertwined. And with Islam, theocracy is the goal.
That is counterproductive and a fallacy argument against Islam, and surely they proffer the say claims against us, saying US soldiers are crusading against Islam. When we wrongfully condemn Islam as a violent religion, we only fuel those mercenaries and warlords cause who claim to be crusading themselves against a religious foe. Christianity is not a violent religion, but Christians (both governments and individuals) have been quite violent, and it is the same with Islam.
Alright, this is entering some territory in which my reply might be seen as very uncharitable, and I don't want that. I respect your position, but very much disagree with any equivalency that could be made on ANY side between Islam and Christianity. As my chosen form of Christian living (Coptic Orthodoxy) fled such earthly power and riches and inspired the world to do the same through the powerful example of St. Anthony the Great, I have no stake in nor time to entertain arguments about what Christian governments or people have done that you might compare with Islam. I would not make such a comparison, because when Christians have done that (and they definitely have), it was flagrantly against their religion. When Muslims do that, it is in line with actions and sayings of their prophet, the perfect example for all Muslims everywhere and always, etc. There is no comparison that you can make that isn't apologetic fodder for Islam, and frankly I am not interested in adding to that.
If we are careful in our analysis not to overemphasize the religious character of war, we find ourselves better equipped to deal with the more impacting factors such as the socioeconomic factors.
Yes, but I should say that the ones who really need to learn not to overemphasize the religious character of war are the Muslims, not me or you.
Further, we should only bring religion up in war to point out the places where it is wrong to use religion for war, not to argue that folks are waging religious wars against us. It is against Islam to wage these holy wars, just as it is against Christianity, and if a few clerics or militias want to misquote Quranic verses the way American people used to lynch black people in the South while quoting the Old Testament, that is their business, ours is to proclaim the truth, not to give into the manipulative lies based upon fear, ignorance, or apathy.
Do you speak Arabic, Habte? I only speak a little, but even I know what "Al-Anfal" is ("the spoils of war"). This was not placed in the Qur'an by non-Muslims to make Islam look bad. Neither were any of the terrible and violent passages in the Hadith or the Sira. I would be careful my friend before asserting who is misquoting what.