Religious extremism, especially Islamic extremism, in recent decades, has been highly correlated to terrorism. For instance, the 7/7 London bombings, as well as the 9/11 American attacks orchestrate in American soil are just some of the examples of religious extremism that has claimed numerous lives, which have been attributed to Islamic extremism (Abbas, 2007; Jackson, 2007). For this reason, there exists a link between terrorism and religious extremism. In many of these occasions where religious extremism is detected, believers or people exhibiting a certain faith, and in this case, mostly from the Islamic faith, are usually misled and act contrary to how they should behave. Ideally, the holy books, such as the Koran, always teaches important lessons on the respect of life, but mostly, thorough extremism, the believers act contrary according to what the Koran says. In this case, focusing on terrorism, the believers should not take away innocent lives; however, most of the terrorist attacks are usually characterized by massive loss of life, which is contrary to what the believers are taught.
As such, faith-motivated activism is not always a constructive force. For instance, in the case of Islamic extremism, most lives have been lost through terrorism, which dictates that the religious force behind the attacks is not always a positive one. In essence, many lives are lost, including those of innocent children, for example, the aforementioned 9/11 attacks, as well as the 7/7 London bombings by Islamic extremists took a lot of lives. Also, in the medieval Christian crusades were also violent, specifically against the Jews, Muslims, as well as some of Christian sects. Consequently, the 16th and 17th centuries were characterized by brutal wars between the Protestants and Catholics, which are all Christians. Currently, especially in the United States, Christians have been connected to bombing abortion clinics, in a bid to show their lack of support for such practices. Therefore, this shows that faith-motivated activism is not a constructive force for change, especially in instances that will lead to loss of lives. Evidently, both Christians and Muslims have proved that this activism is not good as it leads to loss of lives. From experience, it is clear that two wrongs do not make a right, and when members of a certain faith show aggressiveness and the tendency to orchestrate terror activities, the results are always devastating. Concentrating on terrorism, when lives are lost, it is clear that the constructive force behind the activism is negative due to the adverse effects when lives are lost. In another example, the Islam religion promises its jihadists to participate in the annihilation of Christians after being promised martyrdom after they are killed in the process. This is a misguided conception, usually brought forth by individuals who primarily want to orchestrate terrorist attacks. This proves that indeed, faith-motivated activism is not always a positive force for change. However, it can be put to good use especially when positive outcomes are achieved, which also means that the activism can also be positive. For instance, when the faith is channeled towards helping the sick or orphans, then a constructive force is evident. As such, it can be surmised that faith-motivated activism leads to a constructive change whenever positive outcomes are achieved, otherwise, it is a destructive force.
The character of faith-motivated activism becomes extremist and terrorist whenever it is twisted to perform a function contrary to what is expected (Martin, 2014). In most cases, religious faith is characterized by positive outcomes, as dictated by the holy books, however, when the faith is twisted by people with hideous intents thereby leading to negative outcomes, such as death, then at that instance, it becomes extremist and terrorist. For example, the Koran does not support the killing of individuals, however, some Islamic extremist twist what is written in the Koran so that they manipulate individuals into orchestrating terror attacks in the promise for a martyrdom. As such, such twists and manipulations warrant the faith-motivated activism to be extremist, and when geared towards terrorism activities, then the faith can be correlated to be terrorist (Martin, 2014). Therefore, in cases where religious faith has been applied in a variety of ways depending on the political and cultural environment of the terrorist movement, it is termed as an extremist or terrorist. As such, the true believers are alienated and forced to perform acts that they would not perform in the normal circumstances. Therefore, faith-based activism turns to be extremist or terrorist whenever a religious extremist movement reveals and interprets Gods law. Coincidentally, various parts of the holy books can be used to encourage extremist intolerance, whereby the religious extremist interpret the parts in such a ways that it will encourage them to do what the group does, which is terrorism in many instances. Therefore, when the religious extremist group interprets a holy bible in such a manner that it will promote terrorism, then the faith-motivated activism becomes terrorist.
Faith-based natural law does not, will never, and has never justified acts of violence. Ideally, secular natural law is based on rationality and voluntary action, and in most occasions the terrorist are forced, usually via manipulations and distorting Gods law, and are not provided with a chance to act or think rationally (Maritain, 2012). As a matter of fact, some terrorist are forced to undertake terrorist activities in fear. It is Gods law that peace should be observed, and the holy books, such as the Bible, asserts that people should do good to others, as well as loving their neighbors. Love would not be associated with terrorist attacks, and therefore, faith-based natural law cannot be used to justify terrorism. However, the leaders of these religious extremists usually find a way to twist what is written in the holy books to their favor. In essence, faith-based morality needs to be grounded in the scriptures, and therefore, faith-based natural law upholds that moral decision making should be made. The decision should therefore respect life, especially when Christianity is involved. Therefore, people should be able to reason and ensure that the decision made does not harm humanity. In case of religious extremism, this is different as morality and respect for life and humanity is not upheld. Therefore, it is clear that faith-based natural law does not support any violence, rather all decisions should be based on proper reasoning and morality (Maritain, 2012). Killing people as encompassed by terrorist acts is not based on morals, and thus, cannot be justified under the law as it is wrong.
Many religious traditions that have promoted peace, rewards, spiritual devotion, and justice are now being characterized by followers who engage in activities characterized by repression, intolerance, and violence primarily because of misinterpretations of the religious traditions. Many believers have accepted statements about war without even prior reasoning and effort to internalize or reason, thereby resulting to false interpretation of the scriptures. For instance, in the context of justice, the Christian Bible in the book of Hebrew is characterized by relentless psalms of vengeance, which should only be correlated to instances of land seizure and self-defense against enemies (Kung, 2005). Thus, a Christian, and especially an extremist group can misinterpret this and assume that vengeance is a good thing, thereby ending up in violence and aggression. This is pure misinterpretation, and could lead to terrorist attack when a religious extremist group falsely misinterprets to the followers, which promotes violence. In addition, according to Kung (2005), the Koran calls for Muslims to reflect on a particular situation of a prophet during the Medina period which calls to fight against the polytheistic Meccans during the era, and thus, this cannot be used today to justify the use of force. However, taking this example, a Muslim can go ahead and wrongly interpret the scripture so that he/she embraces the use of aggression and repression, which clearly is a misinterpretation. This can be execrated when an Islamic extremist group uses this to radicalize fellow Muslims. As a result, the Muslim can participate in a terror attack, which owes to wrongful misinterpretation. Therefore, repression, intolerance, and violence emanate from the fact that modern believers do not reason with the scriptures, which can improve the interpretation of the scriptures to promote more comprehension and act via morality. As such, traditional religious practices have been misinterpreted in modern times, hence the paradigm shift from a peaceful, rewarding, and justice religious norms to adversities of repression, intolerance, and violence.
Abbas, T. (2007). Muslim minorities in Britain: Integration, multiculturalism and radicalism in the post-7/7 period. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 28(3), 287-300.
Jackson, R. (2007). Constructing enemies:Islamic terrorismin political and academic discourse. Government and Opposition, 42(3), 394-426.
Kung, H. (2005). Religion, violence and holy wars. International Review of the Red Cross, 87(858), 253-268.
Maritain, J. (2012). Christianity and Democracy, the Rights of Man and Natural Law. Ignatius Press.
Martin, G. (2014). Types of Terrorism. Exchanging Terrorism Oxygen for Media Airwaves: The Age of Terroredia: The Age of Terroredia, 81.
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