My dear friends, I am sure that no religion said to fight the people and kill them because they had another faith. No religion from the God prevented their followers to live in peace with the other people even if they have another faith. The people are who ignited the wars by the name of the religion and not the religion which ordered them to ignite the wars.

When a guest descended on the prophet Abraham, he (Abraham) slaughtered a sheep for him and after preparing the food for him, Abraham asked him; what do u worship. the guest answered " I worship the fire". Abraham told him to go out and do not eat. At the same time an angel descended down and ask Abraham. Oh Abraham, how old this guest. Abraham answered 90 years. The angel said to him that God blame u and say to u " If I (the God) am tolerating him and feed him 90 years while he was worshiping other than me, you (Abraham) can not tolerate him once.

God did not ask any one to harm the others but we are the human kind who harm our brothers and sisters and then we accuse the religions.

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of they do. read the books. abraham btw way almost killed his son because god told him to.
My dear friend, it is a symbol story and test to Abraham to show his love to the God and he deserved to be called the intimate friend of God. God sent him the angel Gabrielle with a big sheep to be slaughtered instead of his son.
course
No, religions dont tell people to kill. However when a religion preaches that God only speaks to those who call him by the name in there book, then that religion seperates those who God loves and those who he will burn in hell.
When a religion has a God that will burn people to death. THen the next step is, and always has been, people burning people to death in his name. Burning witches OR stoning women to death or shooting them with a gun.
Once religions divides what God has made one. Then everyone in the tribe is human, everyone out of it is subhuman the enemy.
interpret it the way you choose but the results are obvious when we turn on the news.
Claiming we have the only way to God autmatically seperates us from the rest of humanity. Peace cannot be achieved with Bigotry.
Nor can peace be acheived by denying what the human brain has been wired for. A spiritual experiance. Deny the spirit and we have a machine like and souless existence and then all we are is Cogs in a material world.
The Prophet once passed by a burned out anthill. When the Prophet saw it he asked, “Who has burned it?” When he was informed of who had done it, he said, “Only the Lord of Fire has the right to punish with fire."

No religion invited their people to burn others or to kill others without any cause.
No religion invited their people to hate the others who do not believe the same God.

God says in the Holy Quran what means "Say ye: we believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to God (in Islam)."

We understand from these Holy verses that :
A Muslim can't be a true believer unless he believed in all the prophets and their Holy Books and his belief is not complete if he doesn't believe in them.

All the verses of Torah and Bible that are coincident with Quran verses, we consider them are also verses for us because we know exactly that these verses are from the God and God does not contradict himself.

God says what means in the Holy Quran what means" Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! thy Lord is best aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright.( Al-Nahl :125)

God says what means in the Holy Quran what means " let there be no compulsion in religion "

And let not the hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety.... (Quran, 5:8)

The Prophet Muhammad said: {People, beware of injustice, for injustice shall be darkness on the Day of Judgment.

(7) God does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, you should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! God loves the just dealers and God loves those who deal with equity. (8)

Prophet Muhammad forbade harming non-Muslims and asked Muslims to treat them well. He once said, He who harms a Jew or a Christian will find me his opponent on the Day of Judgment.

Prophet Mohumed says " Whoever kills a person who has a truce with the Muslims will never smell the fragrance of Paradise." (Saheeh Muslim)

And also says "Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment." (Abu Dawud)

[Behold, We have revealed to you (O Muhammad) as We revealed to Noah and all the prophets after him] (Al-Nisaa’ 4:163).
The Qur’an confirms God’s revelation to previous prophets that [If anyone slays a human being, unless it be (punishment) for murder, or for spreading mischief on earth, it shall be as though he had slain all humankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all humankind] (Al-Ma’idah 5:32).

[Indeed, We (God) have conferred dignity on the children of Adam] (Al-Israa’ 17:70). It is noted that this verse is inclusive of all humans, irrespective of their religion or even their belief in God.

[O you who believe! Stand out for justice, as witnesses to Allah, and even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor.] (An-Nisaa’ 4:134)

[O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety and fear Allah, for Allah is well acquainted with all that you do.] (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)
[O humankind! We (Allah) have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous (or Allah-conscious) of you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.] (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Lastly, I collected the verses of forgiveness in Quran and found them about 73 verses and I chose this one to u
(13) Say (O Muhammad SAW) to the believers to forgive those who (harm them and) hope not for the Days of Allâh (i.e. His Recompense), that He may recompense people according to what they have earned (i.e. to punish these disbelievers, who harm the believers).[] (14) Whosoever does a good deed, it is for his ownself, and whosoever does evil, it is against (his ownself). Then to your Lord you will be made to return. (15) (45-Al-Jathiya)
Yeah, the problem is, no matter how much holy scripture from different religions you quote, the problem is, it has nothing to do with reality. In reality, religion has ALWAYS been used as a way to justify violence. Yeah, maybe scriptures do say you should love your neighbor as yourself, but those passages somehow always get ignored. The charitable Christians go on Crusades to spread the faith (and get some juicy new territories), and burn witches (and neatly get rid of competition, and pocket their property), the humane Muslems blow themselves up in crowded places to get a crack at the 70 virgins waiting in heaven (and terrify the virgins down here to wear their burquas and never ever leave the house unescorted by a husband or male relative). The wise Jews occupy a country and throw out its lawful inhabitants because it's been Ordained By God that the holy land belongs to them, and anyway, they deserve it after everything that happened. Even the peaceful Buddists wage wars and torture (we've all heard about the famous Chinese tortures, right?) The problem is that there's no religion out there that takes in account and meshes harmoniously with human nature. You start out by doing violence to yourself, warping yourself into the unlikely image of a good person that your particular religion presents, and, if you succeed, you feel superior and filled with moral outrage that everyone else has failed to do so, and, if you fail (more likely) you are again filled with moral outrage at your own failure, which you neatly displace onto everyone else, because, after all, it's their fault that you've failed, they've been tempting you, or indulging in sin and exerting peer pressure, and you really really need to prove what a good ____ (just fill the blank with your religion of choice) you are, so you go out and punish the other sinners. Shame and guilt are powerful motivators, and so is frustrated libido. Take your pick.

And you know, it's not like everyone who picks up the rock, or the rifle, or the stick of dynamite is really so aware of the peace and love message in their scriptures. More likely than not, they are semi-literate (or not even that), poor, hungry, ignorant, and manipulated by their leader (and what better than religion to invest a leader with legitimate claim to power), into believing the convenient parts (usually the ones about chastity, and sin, and God's wrath) and told to go do God's will. And their more literate brethren, who did read the scripture, just pontificate about the sweet muzzy universal love to be found in all religions, and how they all tell us to get along, after all, every religion out there tells you not to kill, or steal (because without the idea of God, how could we ever come up with the idea that killing your neighbor, or stealing their donkey, is really counterproductive to civilizations, and we shouldn't do it unless we want to live in caves, and be fair game to our immediate neighbors). So we should all just read our scripture and get along. And when the Pope says that using condoms is an abomination, in the face of Africans dying of AIDS like flies, and various mullahs issue fatwas to kill those nasty novelists, or cartoonists, or film directors who dared to insult the Prophet, and just about everyone agreeing that those nasty, disgusting homosexuals should be ____ (killed, thrown in jail, chemically castrated, not able to marry, forbidden to adopt children, etc, pick your favorite) somehow those universal love messages get left by the wayside. And let's not really dig in and see social trends, like religious leaders proclaiming any and all effective contraceptives off limits to the faithful, and those faithful (most of whom are already impoverished) making lots and lots of little children, whom they can't possibly feed, and neatly overloading any local infrastructure that might exist, or people might be trying to build, to help them feed, clothe, educate, and provide medical care to those children. And on a slightly larger scale, let's close our eyes and ignore the fact that those children that might manage to survive will produce successively larger numbers of hungry children, straining their country's resources far past the breaking point and providing some really cheap lives to be laid down in its next little war. But, of course, religion has nothing to do with creating war, violence, and misery. Let's just forget our differences and have a group hug.
Dear Pixelinabitmap,

How do you account for the fact that William Wilberforce, who spent his life crusading to end the British slave trade, was a religious person; or that Gandhi's ideas were informed by the religious traditions of both his own and other cultures; or that most abolitionists in the United States were religious, or at least, theistic people; that organized churches in America opposed child labor, favored the right of labor to organize, proposed a minimum wage, etc; that Dr. King was a deeply religious person, steeped in the traditions of the black church?

Also, how do you account for the fact that officially atheistic regimes--the Soviet Union, China, North Korea--"purged" dissidents with as great enthusiasm as that with which the medieval church burned witches?

It seems to me that the problem in both cases is power, concentrated in the hands of a few who claim to possess the truth with a capital T. It should go without saying that none of us possesses such truth in its entirety, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and isn't worth pursuing, and hasn't been discerned to some degree within the world's religious traditions--especially in those areas in which there is agreement between faiths.

Is it not possible to acknowledge that there's "good" religion and "bad" religion? The "bad' is that which does not serve us; which divides us; which clings to its counter-productive tenets despite the enlightening forces of reason and science. The "good" is that which encourages us to see divinity not as a "father in the sky", but as the unifying ideal within us all. If someone's religious faith encourages her to treat everyone as a unique manifestation of God, where's the harm?
I was going to be sarcastic, and point out how some brave and wise individuals manage to overcome their handicaps, and how that makes them notable exceptions that generally prove the rule (come to think of it, I did just point that out). But that's really just an oversimplification. To be entirely fair, religion can lead some people to treat their fellow humans with more compassion and respect. You've just listed some examples of that. But religion is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for compassion, and the few decent human beings that happened to be religious do not exonerate religion in general from all the evils it has caused thoughout the human history.

As for the totalitarian regimes that claim to be atheistic... they really aren't, they just substitute their leading ideology (communism, or whatever) for the more mainstream religions. In fact, that's precisely why these regimes have worked so hard to exterminate all other religions in their territory, since it wouldn't do for their citizens to waste their zeal on something that does not directly perpetuate the regime's agenda. In Russia (I can't talk about other places, not having experienced them first hand) this even took the form of "red corners", something like a little shrine with portrets or busts of prominent soviet leaders displayed alongside red banners and spirited slogans in public buildings and sometimes even private homes. I believe, as a child, moved by my adoration for our great leader Vladimir Lenin, I made one of these in my room. This is incredibly ironic, as the Christian tradition, that the soviet regime worked so hard to oust, installed these same little shrines, also called "red corners" (though red in this case did not signify color, but was used in its archaic form meaning beautiful) in people's homes, with icons, crosses, candles, embroidered cloth, etc. Still, it neatly illustrates how religion was not destroyed, but merely supplanted by the new regime, and used to further its own goals.

Certainly it's a problem when religion is used to achieve power over people. Unfortunately, religion seems almost designed for the purpose. It is rarely a private thing, causing people to seek truth and justice within themselves. Usually it is simply a tool to indoctrinate the masses with whatever ideology is convenient at the moment, and ride to power on their shoulders. One sad truth is that the majority of people are not exactly inclined to think critically and evaluate what they are told, regardless of their level of education, and religion is simply a way to exploit this and exploit them.

I don't think that labelling any particular religion as either "good" or "bad" solves any problems. Not because some religions aren't more poisonous than others, but because every single one can and has been used by people to justify their small-mindedness, whether in public or private matters. As for acting as a rational and compassionate human being, it is simply not required. If it were a pharmaceutical agent, I would say that the risk-benefit analysis did not justify its use under any foreseeable circumstances.
What you say of religion also could be said of community - that, by definition, creating a community of "us" automatically creates a community of "them" toward which we must automatically be hostile. Although this is often the case, it is not typically or by definition the case.

There is something in us that enables us and perhaps even encourages us to turn what is best in us -- our spirituality, our sense of community -- outward against those who are not "with us". I believe Christians would call this original sin. I'm sure there are many names for it in other traditions. Many people separate "religion" from "spirituality" in order to purge spirituality of the organizational aspects of religion, but that doesn't seem helpful to me. It seems like hairsplitting. The horrible things that have been done in the name of religion throughout the centuries are horrible things done by man that could have been done in the name of politics, culture, survival -- none of which are intrinsically good or bad.
pixelinabitmap,
I was a member of the 101st airborne division, I served in the 90-91 campaign and from 2002 - 2008 campaign in Iraq.
I would like to share a moment of my life with you. It will be very detailed and every detail has a direct impact on the outcome.

July 25th, 2006
It was so hot that day, 124 degrees I think. I was a platoon Sgt. with 29 men under my command. We were ordered to a city called Ramadi just west of Fullajah. We were to setup a checkpoint just north of the Ramadi dam and bridge that crosses the Euphrates river. We drove in at 4am and while the cities population still slept and setup our checkpoints, there were 3 locations on this road, the first 2 checkpoints had 10 men at them, the one at the foot of the dam/bridge had 9, this was my command post for the operation, we were the only American units in the city that day. The goal was to prevent explosive material from coming through the city, it was being trucked in from Syria and many lives were being lost to these IED's (improvised explosive devices)

I would drive my humvee between the 3 posts all day to ensure things were going well.
I had made 4 trips back and forth between the 3 by 10am. And I was being watched, I knew it, but I could not stop doing my job because of it. It all happened so fast when it did happen that I barely had time to react, but here is how me and 29 other American soldiers came out alive that day and it has everything to do with religions, not just muslim, but christian and yes, even judaism.

At approximately 11:05am I left the command post to drive up the road to check on the other 2 checkpoints. About 2 miles up the road the town was empty, and the loud speaker from the local mosque came to life with the word "JIHAD, JIHAD, JIHAD". I immediately knew what was about to happen, and happen it did. First I was hit by an RPG, the humvee came to a halt, I was alone mind you, I took shelter in a doorway to a cafe on the street and myself and the terriorists were in a gunfight. I was there on my own for about 5 or 10 minutes, they had me dead to rights, then, something amazing happened, some of the men in the town came out of their homes armed and fought along side of me. Thats right, muslims saved my bacon that morning. While the battle raged my unit responded, checkpoint #2 which was north of my position packed up and entered the fight. While they battled their way in from north to south, my newly found friends and I battled our way up the street.
The local community leader, I took orders from him, he spoke english and he knew the area.
After 4 hours of exhaustive battle the guns drew silent and my men, myself and the towns people met in the middle of the street.
Thier was 4 of my men that were jewish the rest of us were christian and the towns people were obviously muslim, but for that hour in a half that we all sat around and talked of the days events over tea, we weren't from different faiths we were of the same faith, the faith of human instinct to survive.

As we were ready to depart, and I will never forget this, the men from the town approached myself and my men, they spoke to the 4 soldiers in my unit of the jewish faith, and told them that no matter our differences we all live to help one another in our most urgent times of need, when we are on the "right" side of the situation.
They then took me off to the side, each one of those townsmen shook my hand, smiled and proceeded to tell me that although I am a christian, I am a man of honor and they would welcome me and my men back with safety ensured to visit anytime.
2 days later, becuase of the gesture they had given to me and my men, they were killed.
But, as religion was important to them and us as we fought battles, each one of us overcame the differences of the religion to band together to fight for the common good.

I hope this teaches you a little something. It truly did myself.

With hope,
Ty
I am in interfaith minister, so that certainly flavors my response here. People head toward faith out of need. People need to belong to some community, to believe that there is something that bonds humanity together, and that there is something larger than themselves. Sadly, this need translates to a common reaction: belief in a higher power allows for a scapegoat, either that power or the "darker half", that side of each faith that gives you a name and face for the powers of destruction. When we move beyond the practices of INDIVIDUALS operating under the guises of their faiths and look at the faiths themselves, we find that, oddly enough, they are all remarkably similar. Treat each other well. Take care of each other. We are all connected as the children of Creation, and we are all responsible for the world in which we live. The world is sacred. Does religion tell followers to engage in war? Nope. Do individuals use their faiths to justify what they want to do one way or another? Oh, sadly, yes, they do. Every faith has some practice in its history that we, in our current state, can point to and say "oh, how atrocious!" However, we are in our current states. We all have the benefit of history to inform our decisions. The kernal of truth in faith still stands: love each other. Take care of each other. Be nice. That's all we really need. God, by whatever name you call It, is good. Humanity may be flawed, but that's what we're here to try to learn from, isn't it?
Allow me to clarify one thing that I said yesterday. By "good" and "bad" religion, I was not referrring to any particular faith as "good" and another "bad." And I used the terms as what I now think was unfortunate shorthand, and placed them in quotes to emphasize the degree to which they are relative and subject to misapplication. (In English anyway, quotes signify the phrase "so called.")

So let me replace "good" with "religious beliefs that promote peace" and bad with "those that obstruct it." For that is the question at hand: is religion really an obstacle to peace?

And I affirm that there are principles at the core of every religion that encourage us to see the divinity in each other and therefore promote peace. There have also been adherents to every religion who promote separateness (we have the Truth and "those people" don't) and appeal to fear of differences. Many accurate and lucid examples have been listed in the posts above.

Still, I stand by my assertion that Wilberforce, Gandhi, King, Francis of Assissi, Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter, Marianne Wiliamson, Jim Wallis, Bono, etc., etc., extended or are extending peace not in spite of their spiritual convictions, but because of them. All of them have said so. That I have not listed examples from among the millions of adherents to Islam is a reflection of my ignorance, nothing more. I look forward to others in this discussion educating me in that regard.

Finally, thanks, pixelinabitmap, for putting some fuel under this discussion. Your positions are intelligent and well-defended, and needed to be expressed, to "put out there" what the issues really are. And personally, I was raised in a fundamentalist faith that was based on fear of judgement and hell, and discouraged human freedom and energy. I spent many year being contemptuous of of all organized spiritual expression, so I know where you are coming from. I strove to be wholly rational. But I've changed my mind. I agree with Gandhi that, "Rationalists are admirable beings, rationalism is a hideous monster when it claims for itself omnipotence. Attribution of omnipotence to reason is as bad a piece of idolatry as is worship of stock and stone believing it to be God. I plead not for the suppression of reason, but for a due recognition of that in us which sanctifies reason."

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