A conversation took place on board a plane 40,000 above sea level. I’m on my way to a speaking engagement in Cagayan de Oro where an ongoing battle in Marawi City and Martial Law are imposing.
I met this young man with a Muslim background. He came from a well-to-do family and studied in a prestigious school in Greenhils, Manila, Philippines.
After a little introduction, he asked me what I do (he must have looked at me like a soldier of sort). “What do you think about the war in Marawi and the Martial Law?”
Here are three highlights I have given for him to reflect.
I asked in return. “What do you think?”
He replied, “It [the war in Marawi] is brutal.”
“Do you mean bloody, somewhat overkill?”
“Yes.” He mildly answered and our conversation started.
I can read on his facial expressions, body language, and words that he already has his own notions. But when he asked my opinion, I replied that it’s hard to know everything about this war because we do not have full access from both camps.
From my point of view as a practicing Christian, I explained that religion and politics are supposed to be separate. However, in Islam, religion and politics are mixed. That’s where it is messed up because there are people who are not adherents of Islam, like the Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and that also includes the Communists, Skeptics, etc.
So I asked him, “Is Caliphate a political ideology masquerading as a religion?”
There is so much to learn, but if the mind is closed and empowered by intolerance, bigotry, and narrow mindedness, wars break loose.
Commentator Ramon Tulfo, who grew up in Mindanao recently replied to a Muslim scholar blaming the government for the war. He succinctly said, “Under a feudal society [descriptive of Muslim Filipinos], political and religious leaders had their subjects in eternal ignorance to keep them in perpetual bondage.”
While this young man beside me is schooled in an expensive Montessori school, the only available education for others is the brainwashing method that infidels are meant to be annihilated.
And mind you, the Maute brothers who led the terrorist group are well educated too. In fact, the emir of Abu Sayaf, Hapilon, is also a product of the premier University of the Philippines.
So I encouraged this young man that we keep on learning because the more you know, the more you’ll realize how little we know about everything.
While small knowledge is very dangerous, especially if it thinks it knows everything, a brilliant mind without a heart, clear conscience, and laden with greed for power is of equal danger.
2. Love Your Enemies.
It’s getting clearer. Economic poverty is not the problem but the poverty of the heart and mind.
I asked the budding leader, “If I’m your best friend and your religion would call you to maim, wound or kill me as an infidel, would you sacrifice me because I’m a non-Muslim?”
He looked up and felt bothered. Why? It’s because the same commentator he read has also said, “Their [Muslim] leaders want them to hate non-Muslims so there would be perpetual conflict between Christians and Muslims, deliberately forgetting that the Crusades ended many centuries ago.”
Since I’m a Christian, my Lord commanded me to “love [my] neighbor,” including my “enemies.” For others, this is crazy.
I showed the young person, nowhere in the Bible a believer is commanded to kill non-believers in order to go to heaven. To love an enemy is totally opposite to the teaching that if you kill infidels, you’re assured of seventy virgins in paradise.
That’s why many Muslims around the world now are having a “Crisis of Faith.” In fact, there are Muslims in Marawi who were defiant of IS and hiding their Christian neighbors from the radical Islamists who are obviously hostile to non-Muslims, pagans, and heathens.
Is it possible that many of these Muslim believers are questioning their faith like “If this teaching claims to be the truth, is there an inherent problem here?” The young man thought deeply.
It is no surprise, paramilitary Muslim moderates in Indonesia are bracing themselves to fight the Muslim extremists who are trying to impose sharia law over the inclusive country.
3. Live Your Life to the Fullest.
We discussed the possibility of emerging terrorists as an effect of the war. But I believe, there will always be terrorists even if there’s no war. The moment one belief or political ideology wants to dominate the others, it usually resorts to acts of violence and terror.
That’s where he became really bothered the most when children are being “taught how to kill” others. “They are traumatized,” he said.
I concur. In fact, these children are being made into monsters and less than humans, like the child soldiers in Africa. What future do they have beyond just killing machines for someone’s political-ideological agenda?
We ended our dialogue as the plane was approaching the local airport. So I left him this thought.
“I see that someday you’ll become a leader. As a grandson of a political figure, you have a personal exposure that others do not have the privilege of. My question is this: What kind of leader would you be?”
He nodded and said he somehow understood the importance of leaving behind a good legacy.
We parted ways and I left him a prayer in my heart. May God move in his life and spirit that he will know Isa Al Masi.
Jesus Christ is Isa Al Masi among Muslims. For Him, killing innocent people or non-believers is never the path to heaven. (On the other hand, killing terrorists by defending innocent lives in a just war won’t send a person to hell either. Or else no Christian should be a soldier or cop.)
Jesus exclusively claims to be the only way to the Father in heaven–no one else, but He.
So in times of terrorism, is there still hope?
Yes, indeed. Those who trust in God are more than conquerors in Christ. Let us continue to pray for the Philippines.
Glenn Plastina (c) 2017