If God were to punish men for their inequity He would not leave a single moving thing on earth. Yet He gives them latitude for a time ordained.
Unlike what many people think, there are lots of reason and logic to be found in theology and spirituality. Certain things are concluded from experience, other aspects are argumented in a philosophical way and still others are based upon the cumulative wisdom of the particular tradition. Yet some elements are truly what make faith into faith. Two of those – or perhaps even the essential ones – are the belief in forgiveness and the trust in eventual justice.
Justice is not always perceived within our lives. Often it looks as if those who inflict pain and misery get away with it. Yet it is the belief of a believer that in one form or another – be it afterlife or karma – justice will eventually be done. Nonetheless, someone who stuffs himself with food, drinks too much alcohol, exhausts his body with stressful work and smokes like a chimney might for a while seem to be doing miraculously fine, but will eventually, later in life, bear the consequences of that life style. The same is true for a soul of a person who hurts others, acts too selfish, is always egocentric and thrives on jealousy or frustration. Those souls will bear the consequence at some point.
I have no argument for this. It is my faith. Yet it is also my faith that this shouldn’t induce guilt or anxiety because the divine is also lenient and forgiving. None of us are completely pure. All of us make mistakes. As long as we get up and try again, as an individual, as a society or as a humanity, we can expect to be forgiven. The divine flow of existence will continuously take us along.
The latter is not pure faith, however, for it has some ground of reason as well. For like the Qur’an states it: if this wasn’t so, creation and all human societies would have long ago imploded.
What Christians can learn
The Christian-Western world bears the mark of having been the colonizers of many parts of the world and of creating huge human inequalities through their politics of colonization. The question can be asked however – as in fact many intellectuals from both Western and non-Western countries do – whether many of the current neo-liberal policies during this time of globalization aren’t just a new form of colonization that still allows a small group of rich people to extort and abuse a large group of poor people.
In this short reflection it is not my intention to go very deep into the debate but merely to point out that this question is not just of political or socio-economic importance but that it is today one of the biggest and most pressing spiritual questions. For if extraction and abuse lie at the basis of many policies, we will have to bear the consequences. It therefore begs for honest spiritual reflection and discussion.
Questions for Muslims
Many Islamic scholars have denounced religious terrorism very strongly. Authoritative fatwa’s have been issued against it. Yet to those who would still be inclined to support and applaud acts of religious violence not used as self-defence but as a way to attack certain groups of people because of their way of life, I would ask: which human is allowed to play God? Which human is allowed to determine the ‘time ordained’ for others? Which human is allowed to not let God give latitude to humans? Even if the struggle would be against an oppressive neo-colonial system, as some say it is, violence will not bring it down but only enlarge it by giving it legitimacy for further oppression.
Non-violent resistance and civil disobedience however abide by God’s principle: it allows latitude but uncovers finitude. When all those oppressed stop to cooperate with an oppressive system, that system will be confronted with its own boundaries. Violence however, only amplifies the system for it fuels the war-machine. Is it not time then that spiritual inspirers of those countries where many people feel oppressed by the war-machine of economic injustices, should all join in an effort to find new, modern methods of efficient non-violent civil disobedience?