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Religious diversity: factor of disintegration or factor of integration.

At the very beginning of the Manifest of the communist party, one can come across the assessment that the entire past history--referring at least to the one for which written documents exist--is a history of class battles. By not going into detail of the accuracy or inaccuracy of this Marxist or Engels' dissuasion, given in a form of ascertainment, some, somewhat ironically note that this ascertainment/ dissuasion, given back in 1848, can, with a certain completely small modification, be worded: all past history is a history of interreligious wars. The difference between the first contention, given in the Manifest of the communist party, and this second one is more than clear. The authors of the Manifest, locate the source of human confrontations in the sphere of society's class division. Or the like, the existence of classes is the destabilizing factor that confronts people in an indispensable manner and here from, in its own manner, leads them to a war of all against all, a condition that mostly reminds of Hobbes' natural condition, which Hobbes defined as a condition in which bellum omnium contra omnes(1) rules. When explaining the interpersonal confrontations, the second contention, according to which the past history is a history of interreligious wars, emphasizes the existence of different religions, in other words, the existence of different confessions.

It is doubtless that large part of the social and historical confrontations have a class character and rare is the person that can endanger this ascertainment since the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789; Paris Commune of 1871; as well as the Lenin October Revolution of 1917 speak in its favor.

However, the questions-how are things on the field of the religious diversity and is the previous history truly, more or less, a history of interreligious confrontations and wars, are far more important for this text. At the first sight, it seems to be like that. Proof for this are the numerous wars that took place in past history, led in the sign of the religious confrontation and religious intolerance. In this occasion, it is enough to mention few examples taken from the history having empirical and historical character. Rare is the one who would contest the notion that the Crusade Wars (XI-XIII) were led, at least declaratively, in the name of the liberation of Jerusalem and Jesus' grave, from the unbelievers. That is, from the Muslims. Numerous facts speak of the violence and unscrupulousness of the Crusade Wars. Under aged children were involved in the war actions, as the ones in 1212.

In history, this war is known as the Children's Crusade. Numerous variations exist over the description of the Children' Crusade and the number of participating children. This number depends by the source that is speaking about them since many times real events have been mixed with imaginary, completely fictitious events connected to the Children's Crusade war. Anyhow, more than tens of thousands children participated in the wars, whose goal was also to liberate the sacred Christian locations from unbelievers, that is, the Muslims. Despite of their justification, the Crusades presented wars between followers of different religions-Christianity and Islam. However, no matter how surprising and at times confusing, religious wars happened between followers of the same religion too. In this sense, wars that were lead on European ground in the period between XVI and XVII century, are characteristic. The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) stands out by its violence. Even though it was lead between different countries and nations; even though many clashes happened during this war that contained elements of taking over secular power--such as the wars for taking over the kingly throne, it cannot be denied that this war, amongst other things, was also a war between followers of the Roman Catholic confession and followers of the protestant confession (2). Hence, between different denominations within the frames of the same religion. In this case, Christianity. Before the Thirty Years' War, in 1572, a dreadful massacre of the Huguenots, who were members of the Calvinistic denomination, took place in France on the night between August 23 and 24. The number of massacred Huguenots, again depending on the source, varies from 25,000 to 50,000 persons killed in one night. In history this night is known as Bartholomew's night because it started on the eve of the feast dedicated to St. Bartholomew.

Even though these wars were lead decades ago, their repercussions are felt in present-day Europe. It is especially noticeable in Great Britain. More precisely in Northern Ireland, a country that is permanently facing a potential state of war between the protestant minority and the Roman Catholic majority. More surprising is the fact that this war is not only a war between followers of different denominations (3) but a war led between members of the same nation--in this case, it is a matter of the Irish nation. Although the Orange Order was founded back in 1975, it is still active in Northern Ireland. The religious exclusivity and provocation of this protestant organization is expressed fully, when each year, on the day of the Protestants' victory over the Roman Catholics, it organizes protest marches in quarters that are populated with citizens that are members of the Roman Catholic confession, reminding them of their defeat. This could refer to the possible-, I stress once again, only possible--conclusion that the religion does not only lead to confrontation between the followers of different nations but that it can have a disintegrating effect on followers of the same nation, such as in the case with the Irish nation.

Something similar is happening between Albanians that are divided into two religions and several denominations. According to the research of Lebanese historian and expert of religion Georges Corm, presented in the appendix of his study Contribution [a] l'[e]tude des soci[e]t[e]s multiconfessionnelles (1971), in 1942 the Albanian population was divided into two basic denominations: Christianity and Islam. In addition, Christians were divided into their two basic denominations: Roman Catholic and Orthodox. Muslims, on the other hand, were divided into Sunni and Beckteshs (4). The percentile ratio between the Muslim and Christianity is surprising. According to Corm, out of the total population of 1,098,572 of that time Albania, around 750,000 citizens were members of the Sunni denomination, while 200,000 of the Bektesh denomination. On the other hand, the Christian population counted 348,572 citizens. (5) Thus, only one third of the total population, were not Muslims. If the fact is taken into consideration that the Muslims and Christians were divided into several denominations, it becomes more than obvious that Albania was not, nor is, that religiously homogenous as some try to portray it to be and that from here, this religious inhomogeneousness can lead to interreligious conflicts, that is disintegration of the Albanian society based on the religion. Having this in mind, it becomes clearer why the leaders of the Prizren League strived to push religion into the background, while in the foreground, instead of the religion, they pointed out their mutual ethnic origin.

In this context, Vasa Pasha, (6) one of the more significant leaders of the Prizren league, in his numerous addresses to Albanians, calls on:

"The priests and Muslim priests got you entangled only to divide you... Everyone, as brothers, unite into a single religion. Do not pay attention to churches and mosques, because the religion of the Albanian is the Albanianism" (7). More exactly, the new God, the new religion of the Albanian should be Albanianism. It is known that Vasa Pasha had an emphasized reservation towards religion and its integrating might in society, as well as among followers of the same religion.

Perhaps the only country where religion was completely forbidden was communist Albania in the time of Enver Hoxha. Some considered this practice of radical atheism of Albania's former communist leader as an expression of the rigid, vulgarized and simplified grasping of religion as opium for the people despite of Marx's well-known definition on religion, which many people used without knowing its original formulation, is not opium for the people. On the contrary, Marx believed that religion, as the search for the illusory happiness, is nothing but opium of the people. (8) However, they are two diametrically opposite things: it is one thing to be opium for the people while it is completely another to be the people's opium. In the first case, the goal is to present the religion as something that from the outside, simply by force is imposed on believers in order to manipulate them more easily, while in the second Marx's case, religion is perceived as an inner need of the person-believer, who is trying to find his personal happiness even if doing this in a completely illusory manner, searching for it somewhere in the sphere of the transcendent, unreal, metaphysical.

Consequently, it is normal to raise the question: was not communist Enver Hoxha aware of this and therefore transformed Albania into a typically atheist country? It seems as though Enver Hoxha's motives are not part of his radical atheism, but of his radical nationalism. He did not forbid religion as a vulgar atheist, but forbid it as a pragmatic Albanian nationalist that consistently followed League of Prizrem' course--namely, that the Albanianism should be the new religion of the Albanian since Albanians get involved in conflicts when they are religiously divided.

It seems as if the previous examples alone speak in favor of the disintegrating function that religion has on an international level, as well as within the frames of one country and one religion, as a result of the different denominations, within that religion. However, no matter what point of view will be accepted--the one, according to which the religion does not present a disintegrating factor or the one, according to which it necessarily leads to disintegrating processes- the question is raised is it really so: do the different religious beliefs, on their merits, necessarily lead to disintegration and confrontation between people. Or just differently formulated, is religion a factor of disintegration or a factor of integration. This question is much more important in case certain modern events are taken into consideration, which if continue in the same direction as up to now, can lead to wars of great proportion in which weapons of all kinds would be used, including the atomic, chemical or biological weapons, whose control is more and more pulled away from former control centers.

This question is more important if one has in mind the opinions of some contemporary theoreticians. In this context, the text The Clash of civilizations of American theoretician Samuel Huntington is paradigmatic. (9) In Huntington's view, the past wars were wars between princes/kings against other princes/kings. Basically, they were wars for taking over the power as well as wars for conquering new territories. Later on, with the foundation of nations and national countries--especially after the French Revolution of 1789--interethnic clashes and wars come about, says Huntington. It was a period when the idea of country-nation dominated and from here, the wars of this period had an ethnic, international character. However, the October Revolution of 1971, according to Huntington, relocated the gravity of the clashes from a national level to an ideological level. In this way, in the period of the Cold War, instead of a clash between the nations-countries, a clash between the ideologies appears. This period can be explained as a period of ideological clashes and wars. Concretely, it is principally the clash between the communism and the liberal democracy, expressed through the clash of the two biggest world powers of that time: USSR and USA. However, Huntington continues, with the end of the Cold War, the clashes between different ideologies are brought to a close as a result of the complete fall of the communist block in Easter Europe. With this, according to Huntington, the ideologies in general are brought to a close because the ideology of the liberal democracy remains the sole ideology. At the same time, it means idiosyncratic death not only of the ideologies but of history too. (10) In this way, the classic clashes between princes/ kings, between nations-countries and between different ideologies, that were basically clashes within the frames of the same civilization--in Huntington's view, was the Western civilization--it is gone over to a new type of clash. It is the clash between civilizations. In the spirit of renowned British historian Arnold Toynbee, Huntington differentiates several kinds of civilizations.

According to him, there are nine civilizations. The civilizations are distinguished according to several elements. However, he follows Toynbee's ideas here too, having in mind that the basic feature of each civilization is the religious orientation. Finally, Huntington reduces the entire diversity of civilizations into: Islam and Christianity. (11) This practically means that if a time comes when the basic clash will be the one between civilizations, this clash will principally be, a clash between the two dominating modern religions--Christianity and Islam. In this way, it is as if Huntington is announcing the thing that is awaiting--Western's ruthless battle, incarnated in the USA, against the so-called Islamic radicalism. However, regardless if it is a matter of anticipation of events, based on a precise analysis of the tendencies that exist in the sole reality, or just for announcing what previously was agreed on to happen, the impression that Huntington considers the religions to be a factor of clashes and disintegrating process on a world level remains, confirming, at least indirectly, the thesis that the history up to now is a history of interreligious wars, but with certain modifications. Namely, that the entire future, and not past history, is a history of interreligious wars.

However, the real question is, how much are religions by themselves really a source of war conflicts, despite of the fact that a number of wars had the form of interreligious conflicts.

In other words, can elements that unavoidably cause interreligious conflicts be met in the basis of modern religions, or, perhaps, the religiosity in them is only inserted, feigned? If it is taken into consideration that the Judaism, Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions, then one can hardly say that they are the source of modern conflicts because each of them, following the logic of any monotheism, considers that everything in the world is an act of one power, as all people descend from the same ancestors, it is all the same if they are called Adam and Eve or Adem and Hawa. (12)

In addition, the Islam and Christianity comprise the Old Testament. This means that they encompass the Ten Commandments of God. Further on, the Islam accepts, same as Christianity, the prophets from the Old Testament. The difference, again, is their nomination. (13) Even more, the Islam accepts Jesus Christ, but not as God's son, but as God's emissary or one of the prophets. (14) Christianity, on its merits, cannot be an aggressive religion, because in the famous Sermon on the Mountain, Jesus instructs its followers to resign the old laws and instead of the common right to revenge, it introduces the right to tolerance and forgiveness. (15) Culmination of this spirit of understanding and forgiveness is achieved in Jesus' following saying: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5, 44). Then, on the basis of what can all wars led in the name of Jesus be explained, regardless if they were wars between different religions, as the Crusade Wars, or wars between different denominations in Christianity, as the Thirty Year's War, for example?

If there are no serous bases in the fundaments of Christianity, which would unavoidably lead to clashes between people, then how are things in other religions, such as the Islam for example? This question is so much the important if one has in mind that the danger that (supposedly) comes from the Islam is more and more discussed.

At the same time, the danger that would result from the Islamic fundamentalism is particularly emphasized. The answer, in some way, is indicated in what was recently said--namely, that that every monotheistic religion, according to its own logic, leads towards bringing people closer since all people descend from the same divine power.

Yet, with certain theoreticians, as in the western public in general, the skepticism remains, especially if the idea of jihad is introduced, in other words, the holy war that can be met in many places in the Quran.

However, in order to understand the idea of jihad in an authentic manner, one must approach Islam's fundaments (bases, fundaments). The Quran is Islam's basis, fundament. There are numerous surahs in the Quran speaking of the Holy war.

However, before giving a final assessment, one must see its true, authentic nature, that is, how it is presented in the Quran. A close reading of the Quran brings to the realization that there are two jihads: little and big jihad. The essence of the big jihad is to overpower the unbeliever within you because every believer, no matter how sincere, carries the sinfulness inside, (16) as he carries part of the evil, from which it needs to get free of during his life on earth. According to this, the essence of the big jihad is a battle against the unbeliever that every believer carries inside of him. This, on the other hand, means a battle against the evil inside you, that is, a battle against yourself. Unlike the big jihad, the little jihad presents an obligation that is to be defended by every Muslim, but at the same time, to spread the Islam among unbelievers. This is exactly where the basic misunderstandings appear. Usually, it is considered that every Muslim's obligation to spread the Islam creates a militant, aggressive religion from him and the Islam, that, in other words, the expansionism lays in its fundaments. However, before drawing this kind of conclusions, one must see what the term unbeliever means and whether the Quran prefers force across from understanding and tolerance. First and foremost, under the name of unbelievers, the Quran does not think of all non-Muslims, but only of polytheists. (17) Unlike the polytheists, the monotheists--where the Christians belong- are not unbelievers. Even more, together with the Judaism followers, they are considered as People of the Book (Ahl al-Kit[a]b), because all three of them share the same Book--the Old and New Testament--as they share the same prophets. (18) Further on, the thing that connects Christians and Jews to Muslims is the belief in the Day of Judgment. (19) At the same time, one must have in mind that the three religions are Abrahamic religions. Secondly, when it is spoken about the obligation of every Muslim to spread Islam, in no case does it imply the use of force, because the question of religion is not a question of compulsion but a question of personal free choice. Therefore, it is pointed out in the Quran that "... [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] ... There shall be no compulsion in religion" (2:256). However, if there really is no compulsion in religion, how can then the Muslims fulfill their divine duty to spread Islam among the non-Muslims? This can only be achieved through a personal example, that is, through consistent nurturing of the big jihad. From here, the battle against the unbeliever inside you is at the same time a battle of transforming non-Muslims into Muslims. In other words, the little jihad is achieved through the big jihad. Then, by keeping oneself strictly to the values of the Quran and the obligations it entails, the Muslims, with their life, personal actions, by overpowering the unbeliever in them, give an example to non-Muslims how one should properly live and behave towards others. Only in this way can they attract the non-Muslims to Islam. According to this, the personal example must be above all. In this spirit, the Quran cites: "O you who believe...shall believe in Allah and His Apostle, and struggle hard in Allah's way with your property and your lives; that is better for you, did you but know!" (61:10).

From here, it is almost impossible to draw the conclusion that the wars between Muslims and Christians, such as the wars between any believers, could be religiously motivated. Fundamentally, the wars and interreligious clashes are motivated by completely profane aims, that have no points of contact with religion, because--as mentioned above- in the fundaments of each religion, especially if it is monotheistic, lays the idea of a mutual origin of all beings from one power.

Here from, each religion holds the idea on the universal connection of people, as well as their mutual interpersonal familiarity as brothers and sisters, who are children of the same power and the same ancestors.

According to this, religiosity is only a guise under which wars are led, that are motivated by completely profane motives, but that also that have nothing in common with the religions, because every religion forbids killing.20

Ultimately, when the Christian or Muslim kills, they do not kill like good Christians or good Muslims, but they kill like bad Christians and bad Muslims, even if doing this in the name of God, or Allah. As long as this conscience does not become the ruler of the conscience of every believer, regardless of his religion, the religiosity will be put in the function of profanes, meaning completely secular goals.

(1) Cf. Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan, cap. XIII. Look for in Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan, Science and experience, Sofia, 1970, page 134. However, unlike Carl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Thomas Hobbes does not situate the source of the common interpersonal confrontation in the existence of the battle of classes but in the absence of any legal regulation in a so-called natural condition of mankind on the one hand and the human egoistic nature on the other. A similar description, even a formulation, of the natural condition, as a condition of bellum omnium contra omnes, can be seen with Hobbes and his previous work De Cive (1641), completed right before the beginning of the English Civil War (1642-1649). A similar description of the natural condition, in which no moral or legal regulations existed can be seen with ancient Greek philosopher Kritias (Kritias, 460-403 BC) in his satiric drama Sisyphus. However, some modern authors like Albrecht Dihle for example, ascribes this drama, which is only preserved in fragments, to the renowned drama author Euripid.

Prof. Ljubomir Cuculovski, PhD, Faculty of Philosophy--Skopje, Republic of Macedonia.

(2) The war also seized these following countries: Bohemia, Denmark, France, Sweden, Spain...

(3) I use the term denomination in its broader meaning. Namely, not only to mark the subgroups which exist within the frames of one religion- most commonly the Protestantism- but the division that exist within the frames of other religions, such as the division of Shiites and Sunnis in Islam.

(4) Cf. George Corm, Contribution [a] l'[e]tude des soci[e]t[e]s multiconfessionnelles. Effets socio-juridiques et politiquesdupluralisme religieux. L.G.D.J., Paris, 1970. Corm's Book- in fact his doctorate, defended in France--experienced a second, broader edition, named Histoire du pluralisme religieux dans le bassin m[e]diterran[e]en, Geuthner, Paris, 1998.

(5) Cf. op. cit.

(6) His real name is Pashko Vasa (1825-1892), although he is also famous as Albanus Albano. He participated in creating the Albanian alphabet, together with Sami Frash[e]ri.

(7) Cf. George Corm, Contribution [a] l'[e]tude des soci[e]t[e]s multiconfessionnelles. Effets socio-juridiques et politiques du pluralisme religieux.

(8) In his , tiresome, cited text Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (Zur Kritik der Hegel'schen Recht-Philosophie; 1844) Marx is completely distinct. In the original manuscript, written in German, he claims:"Die Religion ist der Seufzer der bedr[a]ngten Kreatur, das Gem[u]th einer herzlosen Welt, wie sie der Geist geistloser Zust[a]nde ist. Sie ist das Opium des Volks." Kurziv Lj.C.

(9) The text The Clash of Civilizations is firstly published as a separate text in the two monthly journal Foreign Policy of 1993. The text's publishing stirred up stormy reactions, with the uncritical glorification of the ideas set forth in it, to its uncritical rejection. As a result of the debate, in 1996, Huntington republishes his text but now he also includes the reactions he has prompted. This is how his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order gets published.

(10) A year before the text Clash of civilizations was published, the book Francis Fukuyama: The End of History and the Last Man, 1992) comes out (completely by chance?), which, similarly as the text of Huntington, attracts attention prompting spiteful arguments. On the other hand, at least in a formal sense, there is a certain similarity between Fukuyama's book and Huntington's text moreover, both works speak of the ideology's end, that is, the end of history. In addition, despite of the popularity of Fukuyama's book, the ascertainment, that it presents a proficient compilation of ideas taken from previous authors, cannot be avoided: the idea on the end of history is only a specific adaptation of Hegel's philosophy of history; the idea on the end of ideology is a literal citation of the title of Daniel Bell's work: The End of Ideology, 1960; as the syntagm last man is taken from the famous work Thus spoke Zarathustra 1885of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. At the same time, Fukuyama's reading of Hegel's philosophy of history--his philosophy in general--to a great extent is in the spirit of the famous Hegelianism follower Alexandre Koj[e]v, which all together speaks that it is not a matter of particularly original works, but works that through compilation of more ideas should prompt the interest of the scientific public and the public in general.

(11) Huntington surely does not deny the existence of other civilizations, but believes that these two (Christian and Islamic) are dominating and that the common faith of humanity will depend by their future mutual relation.

(12) The fact that these three religions are Abrahamic religions should not be ignored, which means that they are instituted in the same sources. On the other hand, this does not favor the thesis on their essential opposing, but, on the contrary, it favors their mutual familiarity. Therefore, the New Testament is unimaginable without the Old Testament, as the Quran merges with them. In this sense, Mircea Eliade notes: "In some sense (Quran, note LJ.C.) it is the 'Newest Testament' that does not contest, but supports and goes beyond the Jewish and Christian Bible. Even, in a different manner, emphasizes the role of Jesus, Logos, defined as the eternal Word of the God-creator..." See Mircea Eliade: The Eliade Guide to World Religions, Narodna Knjiga, Belgrade, 1996, page 180.

(13) Thus, in Islam, Prophet Moses is known as Musa; Solomon as Suleiman, Abraham as Ibrahim, Archangel Gabriel, a messenger for God who announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would bear a Son who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit, as Jibril ...

(14) Speaking of Jesus, it should be mentioned that there is also a difference in his nomination-in Islam he is known as Isa. However, this does not essentially change the points of contact between Christianity and Islam, especially if it is taken into consideration that, as mentioned in the last but one footnote, that the Quran raises Jesus to the level of Logos, i.e., to the level of the eternal word of the God-creator. .

(15) "You have heard that it was said; 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth'. But I tell you... If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5, 38-39)

(16) When it is a matter of the human sinfulness, one should have in mind that the sinfulness in Islam was not something indigineous for the human being but that it is a result of not respecting Allah's demands as a result of the human's propensity of following the demands of one's self.

(17) For more details on the term unbeliever see in Quran, 109. In fact, this entire surah refers to the unbelievers.

(18) Mircea Eliade shares the same reckoning that"...The origination of the Quran introduced the Arabs to the community of the People of the Book in the group of Jews and Christians, who accepted the Torah and Testaments". See in Mircea Eliade: The Eliade Guide to World Religions, page 181.

(19) Cf. Quran 2:62.

(20) On this occasion, a small reminder of Jainism is enough, which forbids any kind of killing, including the killing of the smallest animals, because everything that is alive should live its life and follow its own natural path. On the other hand, the oppressive path, in any case, is not a natural path. Some Jains go to the extent of tying bells around their feet to drive out all live creatures--such as ants for example--that, hidden or in the dark, can be found under their feet.
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Author:Cuculovski, Ljubomir
Publication:Crossroads Foreign Policy Journal
Date:Dec 1, 2009
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