In the beginning of 16th century, an exceptional cleric rose to prominence in Europe. It was Martin Luther (1438-1546), professor of theology, who used lexicon that Christians were not familiar with.
He believed in and promoted the idea of direct relation between man and God as this relation does not require mediation. The concept infuriated the church.
“Faith is a matter between the individual and God,” Luther said. This idea was tantamount to a ball of fire that burnt whatever traditional fundamentalism was in its way.
Due to this Protestant critique, Europe witnessed different balances between the feudalists’ investment of Luther’s criticism and a sharp opposition by the church.
The peak of the conflict was the eruption of the 30-year war FROM 1618-1648. It was a multipurpose war in which several parties were involved. However, the slogan “war on heresy” mainly reflected a bloody way that killed between seven and nine million people!
The war mixed politics with religion. The Catholics’ and Protestants’ war was enhanced by French ambitions against the influence of the Roman empire. Following decades of bloodshed, the negotiations yielded the Peace of Westphalia in 1684.
This is in addition to two other treaties, which are Munster and Osnabruck. The treaty noted that it was “to the glory of God, and the benefit of the Christian World that the following Articles have been agreed on and consented to,” adding: “That there shall be a Christian and Universal Peace, and a perpetual, true, and sincere amity.”
During this phase, English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) had returned from Paris and had witnessed the bloodshed. He did not think the treaty included enough as he believed there must be a theory to penetrate this religious alignment.
His written work tackled law and politics and he laid down the core that later on developed under the name “social contract.” Hobbes had though the war and its atrocities realized that the absence of a comprehensive concept to regulate social relations, the individual’s relation with the other and the nature of the state and its institutions was the reason for what he described as “the war of all against all.”
He then wrote the book Leviathan, which is a reference in the philosophy of political sciences. It’s here that the world engaged in a different form of dealing with matters, and his theories decreased the tensions of religious civil wars.
Wars that the Islamic world has witnessed, and terrorism in the name of religion, make it necessary for societies to learn from the experiences of nations that suffered woes before usTurki Aldakhil
Europe’s civil wars
Civil wars crushed France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and America but what stopped them?
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the idea of “tolerance” crystallized between John Locke and Voltaire, the nucleus of the age of enlightenment, via their famous theses and other works.
Their main point is that differences between people in terms of religion do not justify attacking them or derogating them or doubting their citizenship or their destiny in the hereafter.
This concept changed the facet of humanity forever. It was not magical but it was the most rational idea that prevented an individual from insulting or attacking or killing the other.
Today, we need this concept not only to teach it and turn it into an educational curricula – and a path to be followed in terms of how Muslims from different sects deal with each other – but also to develop it and deepen it especially that its roots in our religious and civil culture are solid.
However, the merchants of intolerance have tried to destroy it as they hate the “idea of the state,” hence, they only make gains via the concept of elimination in the name of religion.
Wars that the Islamic world has witnessed, and terrorism in the name of religion, make it necessary for societies to learn from the experiences of nations that suffered woes before us.
How can we overcome religious wars, genocide and hatred in the name of religion? It’s a difficult question but planting the values of tolerance yields an approach in the right path and leads to taking a secure passage to attain peace.
The UAE believes in the fruit of tolerance and announced 2019 as the Year of Tolerance. It has made advanced and civilized leaps via laws and legislations and established an independent ministry to sponsor this concept and solidify it in the society on the level of education.
This is in addition to plenty of initiatives that do not just set the concept but also seek to develop it via a policy of awareness.
Tolerance is not a luxury but a necessity. It establishes for the idea of the “stable state,” and it is the path to civilization. Tolerance, my dear, is an effective potion against violence and war. Ask history!
This article is also available in Arabic.
Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.