By By Atty. Romulo P. Atencia
WORLD WAR III?
posted 14-Dec-2015  ·  
4,387 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

"Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction," Pope Francis said in 2014. This fear has been haunting people all over the world since 9/11, and again, after the recent mid-flight bombing of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt killing everybody on board, and the massive, coordinated attacks around Paris which left at least 129 people dead and more than 350 injured. ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks. In retaliation, both Russia and France vigorously conduct bombing raids on suspected ISIS strongholds in the Middle East. This is in addition to bombings already being undertaken by coalition forces led by the United States.

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ISIS is short for "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," or "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham," which is an old Arabic term for the area. U.S. President Obama refers to it as ISIL, which  translates to “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” The Levant is a geographical term that refers to the eastern shore of the Mediterranean: Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Jordan. "Levant" is apparently a better translation for al-Sham. ISIS claims to be a caliphate, a state ruled by a caliph, which is Arabic for "successor" -- meaning successor to the Islamic Prophet Muhammed. The last generally acknowledged Muslim caliphate was the Ottoman Empire, which ended in 1923. Unlike any other major faith in the world today, Islam began its expansion as a political and military movement. "He it is who has sent his Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist." (Koran 61:9). It created one of the largest empires in history (this empire is called the “Caliphate”).

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When it started, the Islamic religion spread so far and so fast. From its origins in Arabia, to its conquests in the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, western India, and the Malay archipelago, the Islamic state was huge. The rise of the Caliphate meant that the early history of Islam shaped world history in a quite unique way. Islam reached the Philippines in the 14th century with the arrival of Muslim traders from the Persian Gulf, Southern India, and their followers from several sultanate governments in the Malay Archipelago. Shariff Muhammed Kabungsuwan who was the first Sultan of Maguindanao was a native of Johor in Maritime Southeast Asia.  Kabungsuwan re-settled in Mindanao where he preached Islam to the native tribes around the region. He invaded Malabang, Cotabato, facing armed resistance from the non-Muslim natives, nevertheless successfully vanquishing and subjugating them to his (Islamic) rule through the might of his Samal warriors.

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Combative Jihad in the technical usage of Islamic law means “the declaration of war against belligerent and aggressive non-Muslim powers” [meaning Infidels, i.e. Christians, pagans, heretics] “or against fellow Muslim transgressors”. It is said that in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. When the Islamic warriors go out to conquer, carrying an Islamic banner inscribed in Arabic of the glory and the truth of their prophet, the army’s mission aside from the material reasons of conquest, is to convert the inhabitants. The conquest in the Philippines by Shariff Muhammed Kabungsuwan through the might of his Samal warriors was accomplished in this manner.

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But warfare in the name of God is not unique to Islam. The concept of “holy war” is found in both Islam and Christianity; and in both religions it has been variously interpreted as a spiritual war, or by the militants as a physical war. The Crusades loosely correspond to Jihad. The origin of the word “crusades” may be traced to the cross made of cloth and worn as a badge on the outer garment of those who took part in the wars. Since the Middle Ages, the meaning of the word crusades has been extended to include all wars undertaken in pursuance of a vow, and directed against infidels, i.e. against Muslims, pagans, heretics, or those under the ban of excommunication. The wars waged by the Spaniards against the Moors constituted a continual crusade from the eleventh to the sixteenth century; in the north of Europe crusades were organized against the Prussians and Lithuanians; the extermination of the Albigensian heresy was due to a crusade, and, in the thirteenth century the popes preached crusades against John Lackland and Frederick II. As a political conception, the crusades were realized in Christendom from the eleventh to the fifteenth century; this supposes a union of all peoples and sovereigns under the direction of the popes. All crusades were announced by preaching. After pronouncing a solemn vow, each warrior received a cross from the hands of the pope or his legates, and was thenceforth considered a soldier of the Church. Crusaders were also granted indulgences and temporal privileges, such as exemption from civil jurisdiction, inviolability of persons or lands, etc. There is indeed much to dislike about the European Crusades. Though European Crusaders may have been sincere, they wandered off from the origins of Christianity when they slashed and burned and forced conversions. The conquest of the Philippines by Spain through the use of the “sword and the cross” was no exception.

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CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: The concept of jihad has been used by many political and religious groups over the ages in a bid to justify various forms of violence. For people to be converted to a religion by force, either under a Caliph or under a Pope, is unthinkable in the 21st century. No one should force his own religious beliefs upon others. Or kill those who refuse. At bottom, this is really imperialism in disguise, to gain territory, power, influence and material possessions. “Jihad”, “crusades”, “holy wars”, or any other similar endeavor -- whether from the East or the West; from “infidels” or people of the same faith -- have no place in this age. 

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