Showing posts with label murder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label murder. Show all posts

28 May 2013

Islam and peace

The murder of a British soldier is just another example of violence between different groups of people. What is the greatest religious divide in our day? It may not be what you think or expect. But what we have in common far outweighs any of the differences we focus on so often.

Simulated image of the Earth
Following recent events in Woolwich, I want to write down my thoughts about the greatest religious divide of our time.

Just a week ago a British serviceman was brutally murdered by two men who justified the act by saying that British forces were killing Muslims.

The great divide - So what is that divide? You might pick something different, but for me the greatest religious divide is between violent fundamentalists on the one hand and everyone else on the other. Seen in that way, the great majority of Muslims are on the same side as the great majority of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and the rest.

Violent fundamentalists of any faith are a small minority, they always were and always will be. Most people are caring, kind, and want nothing more than to live peacefully and in safety. Fundamentalists are zealous and uncompromising about their beliefs, but only a few would say that violence is justifiable or necessary. And of those that say violence is justifiable, only a few would actually commit a murder. So the men who murdered the soldier are a minority of a minority of a minority. Islam has no monopoly on violent fundamentalism. We see it amongst Christians, Hindus, Jews, and even Buddhists.

Standing together - The vast majority of people in this world of any faith and of none must stand together. We must continue to declare peace to one another, to bless one another, and to recognise that all violence is wrong. We must make it clear that we do not accept violence as a way of solving problems and we oppose any person or organisation that does.

It's also important to remember that there may be many reasons for committing a violent act, not all of them are based on strongly held religious views. There are also political reasons, personal reasons, mental illness reasons and many more. Perhaps political reasons are the most common.

The brutal murder of an off-duty British soldier by driving a car into him and then hacking him to death causes fear amongst ordinary people. On the one hand the fear of Islamic fundamentalism is ramped up, and on the other hand the fear of reprisals against Muslims is also ramped up. It's a double whammy. It's likely that the motive, at least in part, was to raise tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims. We must make sure those tensions are quickly calmed.

Peace and vision - To any Muslim in the UK reading this I say 'Assalamu alaikum', 'Peace to you'. I understand that you may be afraid of retaliation, under the circumstances that is natural. It's up to all of us to draw closer to one another, not just within our communities but between them too. Talk to your neighbours of other faiths and of none, understand that they may be just as anxious as you are.

I condemn all violence and threat of violence, regardless of who is responsible for it, who it may be aimed at, and whatever reason may be given for it. There can be no justification for one human being injuring or murdering another. Nor can there be any justification for damage to property, for threats, or for any kind of intimidation. Violence and destruction simply cannot be right.

Instead we need a vision for cooperation, peace and love. Here's a great, international demonstration of peaceful cooperation, the song 'We don't need no more trouble'. This wonderful video will give you a better sense of the spirit of cooperation and fun that is available to us if only we will accept one another - not as black or white, male or female, wealthy or poor, Muslim or Christian or Hindu, but as people. How hard can that be?

Yes, but - Oh - I should have mentioned something else.

There is a cost to the goal of accepting one another in love. There is always a cost. The cost is that we (I, you) must make the first move. No matter the injustice or issue between us, we must forgive and move forward - for all our sakes.

Let's remember, whatever our differences we are one people, all of us are related, one family, living on one Earth. Nothing should cause us to destroy one another. Nothing.

Questions:

  • In what ways can you, personally, reach across a divide in your own, local community?
  • Have you been unjustly treated, hurt, ignored, overlooked, or picked upon?
  • Why do you think it's so hard to make the first move in reconciliation?
  • What will happen if nobody makes the first move?

See also:

24 July 2011

RESPONSE: Norway and Amy Winehouse

Almost a hundred dead in Norway following a bomb and a shooting spree, and a great singer/songwriter dead before the age of thirty. Two tragedies that are not connected - or are they?

The Oslo bombingThere's no direct link of course, yet there is a common element (as we shall see) and the tragic events took place just a day apart.

On 22nd July Anders Behring Breivik set off a huge home made bomb in central Oslo and followed it up with a multiple shooting on the island of Utøya about 20 miles away.

On 23rd July Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home.

Amy WinehouseI feel deep sympathy for the victims of both tragedies, and for their friends and families who will be struggling emotionally and in practical ways to cope with the new reality of life without a loved one. Life with an unfillable hole in it. When my wife died in the mid nineties I was aware of a Judy-shaped hole in my heart and in my life. And I knew that our daughters, our parents, and our friends also carried similar holes within them.

In time (be it short or long) the hole will mend. My prayer for those suffering loss is that as the hole eventually fades it will fill in with many happy memories. These will remain for ever - they do for me.

Paul, writing to the Corinthians, explained that faith, hope and love remain. 'But', he wrote, 'the greatest of these is love' (1 Cor 13:13). In your losses cling to all three, but focus especially on love.

Lack of love (or a perceived lack of love) is always a killer. So is a sense of failure or defeat.

We read that Anders Breivik was a Christian fundamentalist of some kind. But Jesus told his followers to love the Father, to love one another, and to love their enemies. Paul wrote this description of the nature of love...

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Whatever Anders Breivik is, he clearly doesn't understand what Christ meant by love. If Jesus' love is in a person's heart, murder and harm are not among the possible outcomes. The immense harm he has done is not compatible with the word 'Christian' in its true sense.

Amy Winehouse, on the other hand, needed to know that she was loved. How can it be that a young star with a brilliant career ahead of her could throw it all away with drink and drugs? She was loved by friends in and out of the music industry and by family members. Many would have done anything to rescue her. But addiction is a trap that is hard to shrug off, even with willing help and support from close family and friends. It takes much more than human help and willpower to break free and build a new sense of worth and value.

We live in a broken and desperate world. It's a world in which anger and fear, hatred and despair, violence and loneliness are always crowding in and wanting to own us. Often they have their way with us as these two tragic events highlight.

The answer is more love, not less hatred; more light, not less darkness; more life, not less death. As with a serious illness, treating the symptoms can never cure the underlying cause.

The cure for a broken world is Jesus. Not a Jesus preached in church on a Sunday morning but a Jesus living in the lives of his people, making a difference in the world by pouring out abundant love, light and life.

Jesus said, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life' (John 14:6). The Father 'is love' (1 John 4:8).

If you are a follower of Jesus, let his light shine! Let his love and light and life pour out from your heart daily and extravagantly. Let his love pour out on good and bad alike, just as the Father does. And remember, where your ability to love falls short, his goes right on. If Jesus is living in your heart he will fill any gap caused by your own limits. Trust him!

02 March 2011

RESPONSE - Death of Pakistani minister

Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minorities Minister in the Pakistani cabinet, has been murdered by gunmen. An organisation called Tehrik-i-Taliban has claimed responsibility.

Satellite view of IslamabadThere had been death threats against Shahbaz Bhatti and he had chosen to ignore them. He recorded his thoughts about this four months ago in an interview. He was a brave man, a follower of Jesus (Isa), and he preferred to die rather than compromise his views and policies. More details and a video of the interview are available on the BBC website.

What are we to say about this assassination? Are the murderers so afraid of an idea that they must kill to prevent it spreading? Don't they realise that where one dies a hundred more will spring up? Don't they recognise that the Most High calls us to bless and not to curse, to love and not hate?

Violence (and particularly killing) is clearly against the law and will of the Most High worshipped by Abraham (Exodus 20:13). Tehrik-i-Taliban killed Mr Bhatti because they believe he blasphemed their prophet. But which is worse - to disobey the Most High or to blaspheme against a prophet?

Another of the prophets of Islam (Isa, Jesus, Yahshua) shouted out these words (John 12:44-50)...

Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.

Shahbaz Bhatti loved and followed this same Jesus and is therefore also my brother. My sincere condolences go to his family and friends. He was a man of sincerity and high principles. I know Shahbaz would have forgiven his murderers. I pray that they will come to know Isa for themselves and that their hearts will be open to receive him.

30 December 2010

RESPONSE - I'm not that Chris Jefferies

There have been almost 2000 hits on this website so far today. The normal pattern runs at around 100 to 150 visits per week, not high by any means but quite steady. So what is going on?

A graph of today's hits on this websiteMost of my visitors come from the UK with the USA in second place, the remainder are mainly from other European countries with a scattering from other parts of the world. But 2000 in one day?

It's all because of the arrest of another Chris Jefferies, the landlord of Jo Yeates who was so tragically murdered before Christmas. The big increase in hits is down to people searching online for the term "Chris Jefferies" and clicking through to my website.

Other people with my name will have found the same thing! Here's a blog post by a Chris who lives in London.

What else is there to say?

I lived in Bristol from 1970 until 1975. I worked at Long Ashton Research Station for more than 25 years. I know the area well and that makes it all so much more real to me. I had no idea that another Chris Jefferies lived in the area!

I can't end this without saying how much I feel for the family and friends of Jo, particularly her parents, David and Teresa, her brother Chris, and her partner Greg. There's nothing I can do for them other than pray that they will eventually come through the pain and distress. But first they will have to endure the unwanted attention the case will bring, the inevitable intrusions by reporters, and the constant question, 'Why did this happen to our Jo?'. My heart goes out to them.

I know they will be supporting one another at this dreadful time. I'm praying that as they do so they will also sense a much deeper support. The question, 'If there is a God, how can he allow things like this to happen?' is perfectly reasonable. A lifetime is not long enough to fully comprehend his nature, but I will always cling to the knowledge that his heart is to love and that he is as sorrowful and angry as we are about events like this. I hope they will (eventually) be able to understand that too.

I so feel for them. How I wish I could help.


2 comments:


Liz said...
Dear Mr. Jefferies, I am one of those people who found my way here due to that other Chris Jeffries! But I am so glad I did. I've been captivated by your blog for the last hour. I've been so uplifted and so needed to be. Thank you very much for your beautiful words. You have a truly wonderful gift. All the best, Liz
Chris said...
Hi Liz, I have no idea if you will read this, but I wanted to say, 'Thanks', for your kind and encouraging words. Kind regards from St Neots to wherever you may be! Chris

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