There is something deeply disturbing about employing explanation and understanding as a fig leaf for justification and as a pretext to spread feeble diatribes about just desserts. Even more disturbing is the fact that intelligent and right-thinking people sit through sermons and speeches where such dehumanizing pseudo-religious drivel is preached without demurral or protest. Never has Walter Benjamin’s famous statement rung more true when he said that every document of civilization is also a document of barbarity.
The most preposterous aspect of the rhetoric of especially Muslim apologists of terror is that they advance their claims in the name of justice. To allow them to become the guardians of justice is to bring it into disrepute. These pulpit impostors and armchair generals know little of humanity, are bereft of compassion and have perverted justice for their own ends.
No human being deserves to die. Our moral sensibilities are tested even in the most conclusive convictions leading to the death penalty, let alone when acts of determined destruction and terror are unleashed on innocents at the New York World Trade Center. No Iraqi children deserve to die as a result of unyielding sanctions meant to punish a draconian political authority. Nor do Palestinians and Israelis deserve to die in spine-chilling slaughter if their respective leaders cannot make peace.
It may be better that Muslims condemn acts of terror unequivocally without launching into explanations about the algebra of grievances. To venture into such complex levels of sociological commentary without the requisite skill and empathy is to treat human life as dispensable. For Muslims to make such claims is to bring into disrepute to the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad, whose person is fondly recalled in Islamic teachings as a “mercy unto humanity.” And surely every Muslim is entitled to retrieve the reputation and integrity of her or his faith from such misrepresentation.
The truth is that such large numbers of Muslims have become so dehumanized that they parade indecency as grandiloquent virtue. It is difficult to configure who lacks more compassion: the terrorists who perished with their victims or their many apologists who make a linkage between tragedy and just desserts, sometimes without even disguising their joy at others’ misery.
The Baha’i Faith
As globalization quickens its conquest over unique cultures throughout the world, religious studies scholars are forecasting an array of future probabilities for the globe’s morphing religious traditions. In past decades, several thinkers predicted a rise in secularism, asserting that as scientific knowledge continues to advance, the myths of the spiritual realm will begin to fade out of developed societies (“Sacred” 1). Generations later many social scientists are finding that despite scientific advances, modern individuals continue to be as religious as their predecessors. As a result, many scholars believe that worldwide religiosity has outlived the theory of secularization (“Sacred” 2).
Though trends suggest that people continue to practice religion, the rise of global interdependent societies continues to mutually influence religious change internationally. Researchers of religious globalization patterns point to trends in the growth of inter-faith dialogue. The prevailing opinion in most traditions has long been that differing world religions assert conflicting truth-claims. Yet, as globalization ascends, religions have been increasingly exposed to other competing religious assertions. Religious philosopher John Hicks has evaluated these changes for the modern spiritual world. Juan Cole, a well- known Baha’i follower and scholar, summarizes Hick’s model for the existing three attitudes towards differing world religions:
(1) exclusivists, who see only one mode of religious thought (their own) as true and the others as false; (2) inclusivists, who maintain that their own tradition is blessed with the whole truth, but that other religions might possess some truth; and (3) pluralists, who believe that the great world fait…
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