Holy season - unholy warriors
This column was.published on the S-T editorial pages December
8, 2002 under the headline: "If Only they would heed the words of
Open letter to:
Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, and George
You all say you follow your faith. This is puzzling me, since your faiths
all seem to suggest one course of action and you all seem to act in the
opposite way. Perhaps there is something unclear about the following:
Islam says: Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto
you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourself.
Judaism says: What is hurtful to yourself, do not to your fellow
man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary.
Christianity says: Do unto others as you would have them do
unto you, for this is the law and the prophets.
Perhaps you are not speaking honestly to one another? Maybe you have forgotten
Islam says: Do not clothe the truth with falsehood; do not knowingly
conceal the truth.
Judaism urges: Speak ye everyman, truth to his neighbor; exercise
the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.
Christianity says: Putting away lying, speak every man truth
with his neighbor: for we are members, one of another.
You all seem to have a fondness for the word "evil" and tend
to apply it to one another. But . . .
Islam says: Recompense evil, conquer it, with good.
And Judaism says: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh
word stirs up anger.
While Christianity commands: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome
evil with good.
Now I know you are all offended by the actions of one another and feel
you must respond in kind, but. . .
Islam commands: Forgive thy servant seventy times a day.
And Judaism says: The most beautiful thing a man can do is to
And Christians surely remember when Peter cam to Jesus and asked:
"Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive
him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not
say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."
Seems to me that all of this points in one direction:
Islam is quite clear about peace: Shall I tell you what acts
are better than fasting, charity, and prayers? Making peace between
enemies are such acts; for enmity and malice tear up the heavenly rewards
by the roots.
And so is Judaism: How beautiful upon the mountains are the
feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace.
While Christianity leaves little doubt: Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.
Given these clear statements, how shall we - Christian, Jew or Muslim
- assess the deeds of our leaders?
A man asked Muhammad how to tell when one is truly faithful,
and he replied: "If you derive pleasure from the good which you
do and are grieved by the evil which you commit, then you are a true
Judaism also puts an emphasis on loving action: But I say unto
you, deeds of love are worth as much as all the commandments of the
Christianity says: God will render to every man according to
So what's the problem? Is it that you are all hypocrites? Do you think
these are meaningless ideals, not meant to be followed by practical men?
Or are you merely old men, greedy for power, and afraid to face the simple
beauty of love and peace and the elegant clarity of your faiths?
Yes, I'm sure each of you can find ways to twist various passages from
your holy books so that they justify what you are doing. But why do you
work so hard to find the wrong path, when the right path is so simple
(Many thanks to Jeffrey Moses and his wonderful little book, "Oneness:
Great Principles Shared by All Religions," from which the above quotes
were taken. )