Geert Wilders’ documentary movie “Fitna” has brought the nuance back into an event last year in 2007: A common word between us and you – without justice between us there can be no peace – a letter from Muslim Leaders to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian Leaders (Butt & Hooper, 2007).The next question will be “what is next?” It is probably too much to ask to even consider peace between Muslims and Christians.
Peace is created when sincerity and understanding take place. Yet, to sustain sincerity and understanding is like counting stars up in the sky; when our eyes have come into particular amount of stars, and if there is only one star that distracts it just once, the long – taken effort of counting will be of no use. The peace between Muslims and Christians is what similar to these “eyes”. It does not mean that it’s unachievable, well it is but in most cases only occur with one condition: at a particular moment. This happens because the “eyes” will always have their own distractions in which is called “waver”. There will always be waves within this particular moment; whether it is within a decade or a century or even thousands of years. So to speak, Fitna is one of the waves. Since I am not well-equipped to touch the core of religious aspects in Fitna, the discussion in this page will focus more on two substantial issues beyond Fitna (which I think is more universal): Exclusivist versus Extremist and Demagogue idiocy.
Exclusivist versus Extremist
Have you been familiar with what so-called as redemptive drama? (1) One particular religion has been criticized, insulted or attacked (either by media, vandalism, etc) –> (2) the following scene will be protest, defense, justification, and dissension –> (3) Prominent characters propose for a peace kind of treaty with interfaith dialogue, etc –> (4) Media frenzy –> (5) Temporary disclosure –> (5) One feels dissatisfied, others feel the truth must be revealed –> Start all over again from no 1.
For some people, this redemptive drama has been so tiring and overwhelming to watch, yet this drama has been profitable for some others. Since Muslims and Christians are making up more than half of the world’s populations (Butt and Hooper, 2007), in terms of redemptive drama, the record between Islam and Christian has outranked other beliefs. Historically, Muslims have associated and continue to equate the West with Christianity. Therefore, this long history of conflicts has been unbearable, leaving animosity toward one another.
In United States itself, post 9/11 has brought enormous phobia to Islam. Traumatic feelings has made it worse to even put an ear for the word Islam to be mentioned. Likewise, in Indonesia the vandalism towards churches made a quite significant wave. Between March 1996 and August 2005, there were more than 180 churches were reported destroyed, burned or closed by force (Tempo, 2005). However, let it alone the serious dimension above. Now, here comes “Fitna” that once again brings you tube “wave” into the minefield. The redemptive drama repeats itself again and again but in a more digital way. When we look closer to the plot, it has always been very exclusive. What is more, inside of this exclusive drama, there are exclusivists who always take the prime role.
Aside from what is “exclusively viewed” in that documentary movie as horrific scene where extremist Islam is seen as violence promoter, Geert Wilders is one of those exclusivist whose exclusive agenda has been subliminally planted inside his movie: fame. He’s probably confused to dive more closely between traditional, puritanical, and militant within Islam. According to Harty (2007), we need to perceive Islam more subtly as either traditional (renewal, revival, resurgence); puritanical (reform, activism, radicalism); and militant (revolution, extremism, terrorism) without a further attempt to generalize everything on behalf of Islam in the most unrefined way.
In the same manner, Christian also faces the same issue of fundamentalism: Evangelicals, Adventist, Charismatics, Revivalists, Pantecostals, Creationists, Millenialists, Anti-abortionists, Nazi-skinheads, and the Arian nations (Harty, 2007). Hence, back to Geert’s agenda, he is now at his fame; soon he probably gains something in the political field, or at least having bites of celebrity world, but then what’s next? He has no idea that he has been confronting the extremist in Islam – not Islam itself. However the fact is, a majority of Muslims are going to react to this film. Apart from that, I don’t see why it’s even necessary for Muslims who wish to protest because it’s not Islam that Geert depicted – It is the extremist’s.
This has been the epidemic within both Islam and Christianity – where there is a will there is a way – the epidemic has brought this quote into pejorative method: where there is a fundamentalist or extremist, there is a demagogue. A demagogue in Islam tries to put misdirected prejudice to conform his own narrow-minded perspective towards Christian or West, for example, and then making it as a device to gain immature followers to commit violence in the name of God – as if he knew that God needs violence to gratify Him. Likewise, a demagogue in Christianity tries to isolate what’s outside narrow-minded perception of biblical verses and turning it into a complete condemnation to whoever called as non-Christians – as if he knew that God only loves the exclusivist over His grandeur creation in the whole world.
According to Hartshorne (1997), “religion is partly a sociological phenomenon, how human groups cooperate in trying to relate themselves to their highest ideals and most important purposes”. Thus, an attempt of being recognized as a messenger of truth or of God has made several immature people to be over-exaggerated in claiming his own perceptual truth into larger consensus. Mostly within demagogue idiocy, there lay too many personal God-first claimed to do list. Yet, the problem is not even close: instead of putting God first, a particular, simplistic, limited human understanding of God is put above all else. The idiocy is all about the understanding of God’s will of mankind is based on what they think God wants things to be – not the absolute truth in which nobody knows but God a.k.a transcendence issue. What has been depicted in Fitna is part of that idiocy (I believe). Towards that idiocy, probably is at best, we could learn about ourselves – about Islam and Christian for example in a better way. Why? It is all because it shows us that within our own “body” there’s something that really could threaten the harmony of our metabolism – that’s the way I put it into analogy.
Again, no need to be Islam-phobic, Christian-phobic, or even germs-phobic; all we have to do is just naturally counter it with caring and gentleness. It’s that what Islam and Christian share something in common right? – Caring and gentleness. Towards the epidemic of demagogue, whenever both of us (Muslims and Christians) listen to something like germ-provocative kind of preaching or sermon, let’s just get the bigger picture and look beyond to what we share in common to create harmony instead of putting another mine into another field.
Close Captioned excerpts beyond Fitna
As the citizen of the world, I really wish that bridging the differences between Muslims and Christians is not too much to ask. The sincerity and understanding shall be cognizant as a long-term attempt to sustain peace between us. Keeping the “eyes” from the distractions of the wavers will not be easy but it is not impossible. Standing up for what we believe in is indeed a good thing but do not let it become “cause of all but effect of none” (Hartshorne, 1997). Let the effect of compassionate Islam and Christianity takes over and put aside of those atrocities and animosities into a place of no where to be found. In terms of Fitna, although this short-minute video anti-Islam propaganda has aroused sense of insecurity, as compassionate believers let us both break that extremist idiocy and exclusivist’s hidden agenda so that they will be defeated by their own fallacy.
To seek the truth, let us remind ourselves how fallible we are as humans. Therefore, this fallibility will not support us in finding the absolute truth whatsoever because it is transcendental. Until then, let us just focus and listen to ubiquities of God as what is displayed in “A common word between us and you – without justice between us there can be no peace” – a letter from Muslim Leaders to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian Leaders (The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, 2007) that Love of God is as love of the neighbour. Eventually, let this letter be the closing line for this page: http://www.acommonword.com/index.php?lang=en&page=option1
Hartshorne, Charles. (1997). The zero fallacy and other essays in neoclassical philosophy. Illinois: Carus Publishing Company
Harty, Sheila. (2007). The problem is fundamentalism: Christian or Muslim.http://www.sheila-t-harty.com/
Butt, Riazat & Hooper, John. (2007). Conflict between religions threatens future of the world, Muslim leaders tell Pope. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/oct/12/religion.catholicism
Perusakan dan Penutupan Gereja di Indonesia (beberapa kasus 1996-2005)”. Pusat Data dan Analisa , Tempo, see http://www.pdat.co.id/hg/political_pdat/2005/08/31/pol,20050831-01,id.html