Ending the Cycle of Violence in the Middle East


Editor’s Column


Bringing the Cycle Of Violence to an End: ‘Forgiveness’ in the Middle East

“To the Japanese government. You are like your foolish allies in the Satanic Coalition.”

So began the message spoken in the video clip of the Islamic State’s beheading of a Japanese man in February. To this, Prime Minister Cameron of England responded that the Islamic State was the embodiment of Satan. And with each side’s declaration of the other to be Satan, the conflict intensified.

Is there a way to end the chain of hatred in the Middle East? To answer this, first, there is a need to divide the complex structure of the conflict in the Middle East into several factors:

  1. There’s the regional battle, which today still continues, against European and American racism and colonialism.
  2. Fighting is also occurring within Islam between the fundamentalist Sunni and Shia sects.
  3. In addition, religious conflict exists between Islam and Judeo-Christianity.

Dividing the problems along these 3 lines makes it possible to find solutions.


1.The Battle, Which Today Still Continues, Against European and American Racism and Colonialism.

In the Middle East, the racism that Europeans and Americans have displayed still haunts the residents as well as the unresolved issue of heritage in the aftermath of their Colonial rule.

During WW1, the Ottoman Empire (Turks) that was ruling over the Middle East and Arabia was defeated, and powerful nations such as England and France divided the Turkish ex-colonies, and began exploiting them. England and France drew the borders of countries such as Iraq and Syria according to decisions they made.

Thus, Islamic countries’ recent attempts to acquire land that they could rule over, and the Syrian Civil War, have both been a kind of resistance against the European-American border; it’s been an attempt to redraw them. The battle against Western colonialism will continue over the next few decades until Middle Eastern countries re-gain their sovereignty.

One model for independence comes from Japan: the Meiji Restoration saw the establishment of a modernized nation, which maintained its independence, and in the end, liberated Asia from Western Colonial rule.

In this sense, there’s much Japan can do such as providing economic and technological support for the establishment of independent countries in the Middle East and Arabia.


2.Conflict Within Islam Between the Fundamentalist Sunni and Shia Sects.
This issue concerns WW2, and is thus, not so old.

In around 800 CE, the Islamic region entered a golden age with developments in fields such as philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy. This, however, went downhill from about 1500 CE, and Europe soon surpassed it.

Later, after WW2, the Middle East and Arabia became epicenters for the mining of crude oil. With this, Islam returned to its order from the Middle Ages, and many different religious sects began to rise.

In some countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Koran and Sharia (Islamic Law) became a kind of replacement for constitutional law and principles, dictating how people should live down to the minutest detail, consequently oppressing human rights and human nature.

This problem of fundamentalism became apparent in both of the major Islamic sects – Sunni and Shia – and incited unrest, such as between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Islamic extremists have gone far afield from what their holy texts require them to do. Members of the Taliban from Afghanistan and Pakistan attempted to assassinate Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala, and the Nigerian organization, Boko Haram, has been abducting young schoolgirls.

In order to stop this misery in the Islamic region from spreading, there is a need to release Islam from its bonds and for Muslim leaders to accept individual freedoms. A person, who was able to change Muslim society at the start of the 19th century, was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and later President of the Republic of Turkey.

When the Ottoman Empire was defeated in WW1, the Allies threatened to partition it. Here, Kemal took center-stage and not only won the Turkish War for Independence, but also abolished the Sultanate after defeating the Islamic Sultan and Caliph.

When Kemal abolished the Sharia and other national religious systems, he ensured the separation of Islam from politics, which allowed for the acceptance of individual freedoms in matters of lifestyle and finance.

The solution to the current conflict within Islam between the fundamentalist Sunni and Shia sects would be a revolution similar to the one described above.


3.The Religious Clash Between Islam and Judeo-Christianity

Arguably the first thing that comes to mind about the fighting in the Middle East is the religious conflict between Islam and Judeo-Christianity. One could argue that this clash is inevitable as all 3 religions are monotheistic, but this is not necessarily the case. They are all closely related ‘brother’ religions and are aware that they believe in the same God: the Jewish God, the Christian Father in Heaven, and Islamic Allah are all in fact the same Being.

The real problem is that, while claiming to be monotheistic, they actually follow multiple gods. Judaism merged the universal God, who was widely popular among the ancient inhabitants of the Middle East and Africa, with the Jewish nation’s God.

Looking at the Old Testament, a lot of the time, the deity named Yahweh identified as ‘Lord’ and the being named Elohim identified as ‘God’ opposed each other. Yahweh was a combative God of Judgment who instructed people to destroy entire foreign populations. Contrastingly, the God Elohim, a loving spirit, instructed people to do away with vengeance and to care for their neighbors. Since Christianity accepted the Old Testament as Holy Scripture, it also inherited part of Yahweh’s ideologies.

Yahweh also heavily influenced the Koran, and thus some spots indicate the right to destroy people of other religions. 9/11 and the Charlie Hebdo incident were extensions of this belief in the God of Judgment. The source of the religious conflict between these 3 religions lies in Yahweh’s combativeness and spirit of vengeance.

In this sense, all 3 religions need to innovate. Their aim should be to remove the influence of Yahweh, the God of Judgment, and to become one under the God of Love, Elohim.

Master Ryuho Okawa of Happy Science has awakened to his existence as the human incarnation of the core consciousness of the supreme God, Lord El Cantare, who had guided the creation of these 3 religions from the heavenly world. The teachings of this God of Rebirth have been slowly spreading throughout the Islamic nations, however, stopping the religious conflict between these 3 religions is a tremendous task that will take over a century to complete.


The Power of Forgiveness Can Put an End to a Cycle of Violence

In this way, it is possible to envision the road to breaking the chain of vengeance in the Middle East, but that is easier said than done.

A philosopher from the 20th century, Hannah Arendt, held that the power of forgiveness is crucial to escape from a cycle of violence. Every person makes mistakes and commits sins. If left alone, hatred will expand and transform into an endless series of vengeful acts. Arendt said that every person is a one and only existence and that happiness lies in producing new values that suit each individual. Vengeance obstructs this ideal. Arendt further advanced that in order to avoid this tendency, victims ought to forgive and release their hatred, and continually pardon their victimizers for the wrongs that they have committed. She emphasized that forgiveness was the polar opposite of vengeance.

Through forgiveness, mankind is able to be freed from vengeance and to start over again any number of times. Historically, in cases where mankind has been able to overcome racism, the power of forgiveness was imperative.

During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made a sympathetic remark to his enemies, the South. When a lady questioned him on why he had done such a thing, he answered, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Lincoln was able to bring together a country that was becoming divided because he put into practice Jesus’ idea, “to love your enemies”.


Forgiveness as the Power for Social Reformation

Martin Luther King Jr., who led the African-American civil rights movement in the 1950s to 60s, fused Gandhi’s doctrine of non-violence and Jesus’ teachings on love to achieve African American rights. Amid a world where bombings destroyed churches and those bombing incidents involved injuries to children, King Jr. gave a speech in 1963, in which he said that while he hated racism, it was important to love those that racist thinking compelled; this was the only way to create a society filled with love. He also said that the creative power of love was the most powerful method to obtain security and peace for mankind.

Thus, a person who can advocate Arendt’s forgiveness, not just on a personal level, but elevated to the level of power that could reform a society, will be the one to put an end to the racism and colonialism that still exists today.


Forgiveness in the Turkish Revolution

Looking at how the aforementioned Mustafa Kemal Atatürk banished the Emperor and his family overnight, his bitter and dictatorial act could have made him appear to be a person not of forgiveness, but of its opposite, vengeance. This was not necessarily the case.

After the outbreak of WW1, the Emperor of the Ottoman Empire Mehmed VI became corrupt, which was evident in his dealings with England that enabled it to expand its territory in exchange for promising to leave Mehmed’s position and fortune untouched. By breaking off the Islamic powers that were monopolizing Turkey’s political and economic activities, Kemal sought to encourage people to pursue wealth and happiness.

Kemal’s aim was to become a country like Japan, one that was the first Eastern country to establish a modernized nation, and one that even defeated a superpower like Russia. He would often look at a photograph of the Meiji Emperor that he had placed on his desk and question himself whether his revolution and war for independence would turn out to be a success like the Meiji Restoration or the Russo-Japanese War.

Kemal was indeed a dictator, but he held the principle that sovereignty rests with the people, and went as far as to trial a transition to democracy. His people, however, were unable to change, and thus Turkey’s governing system reverted back to a one-party regime. Still, despite not having an election, he made sure to canvass and go around the country explaining the purpose and ideals of his revolution.

Even now 100 years after Kemal’s time, there is no Islamic country that has had a more sophisticated political system. One would expect that such a large-scale revolution would have caused much bloodshed, but with his revolution, the only casualties were some 1,000 Kurds who tried to repress the revolts. Even the Meiji Restoration, known for being a bloodless revolution, produced over 25,000 casualties in the Boshin War and the Satsuma Rebellion.

This is proof of Kemal’s great capacity for forgiveness.


Exoneration for Muslims who Fear the Wrath of God

An Islamic religious revolution has already started among the Muslims that have been studying the teachings of Happy Science.

A man in his 30s, who lives in a Muslim country known for putting people to death for converting away from Islam, said the following:

I was surprised to hear that Allah, Elohim, and El Cantare were the same God. I’m very happy to be able to study El Cantare’s teachings of truth and love.

Many Muslims believe that those who do not follow Islam’s religious precepts and teachings will be tortured in hell for eternity. These people are living their religious lives in fear of the wrath of God, waiting deep in their hearts for the God of Love and His forgiveness.


A Mission for the Japanese

The thing that Japanese people must realize is that any of the above solutions will greatly affect their country.

Japan was the first Asian country to establish a modernized nation and to crush Euro-American racism and its colonies. Japan was also the role model for the Turkish Revolution, which achieved freedom for its people through detaching Islam from politics. Without a doubt, Happy Science, a new world religion based out of Japan, could inspire the Muslim world into a future full of religious innovations.

Although Japan is currently in a state of confusion due to the Islamic State’s hostage incident, which prompted questions as to whether Japan will able to protect its overseas citizens, the more we think about solutions to the issues in the Middle East and Arabia, the more we can come to understand how significant a role Japan needs to play.

There is a demand for a mediator between Islamic and Christian regions as well as for a country to guide Islam in innovation. Will Japan be able to rise to the opportunity and shoulder the mission?

Ending the Cycle of Violence in the Middle East
Copyright © IRH Press Co.Ltd. All Right Reserved.