THE NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF POLITICAL FUNCTION OF RELIGION: Religion and War

Religion has not only been cause of religious wars, but also had an effect on political wars. Weber in this relation mentions two opposed viewpoints: ‘…the mercenary army might be regarded as a relatively ethical institution […] The employment of force by the state can have moral sanction only when the force is used for the control of sins, for the glory of God, and for combating religious injustice -in short, only for religious purposes’(Weber, Op.cit).

Regarding the relationship between war, religion and politics, there are some examples of political claims grounded upon religious faith. Traditional Muslims divided the world into Dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam, and Dar al-Harb the abode of war. The first was included the Islamic communities and those non-Islamic communities that had accepted Muslim rule. All other communities and territories were in second abode. This division was to remain valid until the definitive transformation of Dar al-Harb into Dar al-Islam by jihad.

Although, jihad in Islam is not confined to fighting, it also consists of the non-violent propagation of faith. All the same, there is a political claim of universal scope, based not upon reciprocal agreement, but upon the Islamic faith in the sovereign will of God (Davis, 1994:113).

As modern cases, during 20th century there were some examples that the clergies were encouraging people to war or justifying the wars regarding countries, and according to politics and politician’s words. In this relation we can mention the Justification of war by the Christian clergies during World War I and II. During World War I, the soldiers of many nations, professing a religion of which the chief tenet is brotherly love, slaughtered each other in the name of God (Holt et al, Op.cit: 239-240). And, also, we can mention the war between two countries Iran and Iraq (1980-88), and Iran’s war against Kurdish people and suppressing them on their homeland because they wanted to enjoy their basic human rights during 1980s. These two wars were interpreted as war between Islam and ‘Kofr’ (heresy). Another example is the Iraq’s war against Kurds under “Al-Anfal operation” (1986-1989). ‘Anfal’ is the name of a part of Quran. According to the Iraqi prosecutors, in this operation as many as 182,000 Kurdish people were killed (see: http://en.wikipedia.org). While these countries and the Kurds are of Islamic religion. Thereby, the politicians attract the young people to war and justify it. Rather than two mentioned cases, the war of Al-Qaeida against U.S. is, also, in the name of Islam.

Hence, historically, war has been tied to Religion. Apart from domestic wars, and wars between various cults, in the international level, still, there are some religious controversies among some countries, for instance Iran against Arab countries and other neighbors like Afghanistan and Pakistan and turkey also, as Sunit Muslim against Shiite Muslim, and between Islamic world and Christianity, and so on. Because of these issues, some theories like Huntington’s theory “Clash of Civilizations” were emerged.