"We Are At War"


In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

In the film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker expressed his displeasure at being asked to spy on the Chancellor. Such an act was against the Jedi Code. In response, Obi Wan Kenobi retorted: “We are at war, Anakin.” Yet, that fact was irrelevant. A similar situation occurred with me.

I mentioned to someone that it was wrong for Hezbollah to fire rockets on civilian targets. I was told, “It’s a war.” That fact is irrelevant, also. “What do you expect them to do?” I am asked. Not shoot rockets at non-combatants, that’s what. And for Hasan Nasrallah to tell the Arabs of Haifa to leave so as not to be killed added insult to injury. What about the Jews of Haifa? Are they not human beings, too?

The same goes with the Israel Defense Forces. Although Human Rights Watch has “collected evidence that Hezbollah has stored weapons in or near civilian homes and that fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers,” which are serious violations of international humanitarian law, “those cases do not justify the IDF’s extensive use of indiscriminate force in other situations where civilians were killed and there was no evidence of a Hezbollah presence at the time of the Israeli attack.”

During this latest conflict, innocent human beings – Arabs and Israelis – were needlessly killed. Both sides killed civilians on the other side, albeit one side inflicted far more damage than the other. Innocent blood was mercilessly shed, and that is why I am very happy the guns, bombs, and rockets have stopped (mostly). May they never start again in the Holy Land. May peace – so elusive for so long – finally come to this terribly troubled region. Amen, O Lord, Amen.

Yet, the point remains: “we are at war” is never a legitimate excuse for committing injustice. Yes, the terrorist enemy we face is brutal. Yes, the terrorist enemy we face has no regard for human life. Yes, the terrorist enemy seems to outdo itself in committing ever more vicious attacks on innocent human beings. Yes, we are at war with them. But that never gives us the license to rape, maim, and murder. This applies just as much to U.S. soldiers fighting the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world.

But, it also equally applies to Muslims all across our world. There is much injustice in our world, and Muslims face much of that injustice. From oppression by corrupt and illegitimate governments (many supported and propped up by the United States), to living under military occupation, to dying from starvation and disease, there are many Muslims who suffer tremendously throughout the world.

Yet, that terrible fact never justifies murder of the innocent under the guise of “being at war.” It never justifies committing mass murder – whether it be on airlines, or passenger trains, or Shi’i mosques. Furthermore, it can never be committed in the name of God. Yes, one can use scripture to lend credibility, but it is never legitimate. Never let the hatred of a people towards you move you to commit injustice.

If we stoop to the level of those who wish us harm – and the “we” here can mean Americans or Muslims – then we are no different; we are just a tribe among tribes. Yet, we are different. We have to always maintain the high moral road. And if we do thus, then know that the Lord God will come to our aid.

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