THE RELIGION OF PEACE
TTP, September 11, 2003
Earlier this week I had lunch with one of the most extraordinary human beings gracing our planet — His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Our gracious hosts were Lalit Mansingh, Indian Ambassador to the US, and his wife Indira at their Residence in Washington. I congratulated Ambassador Mansingh on his country being a sanctuary where Tibetan culture and religion still freely flourishes, such as in the regions of Ladakh and Zanskar.
I told His Holiness about the time I was traveling overland across the Chang Thang Plateau of northern Tibet and encountered a group of Khampa nomads. They are Tibet’s Wild Men, feared, dangerous, and armed to the teeth. I walked right up to them and handed them each a picture of the Dalai Lama. Instantly I was their friend. They jumped off their horses, placed the picture reverently on their forehead, and we all sat down to have a friendly cup of yak-butter tea.
“I have driven 10,000 kilometers all over Chinese-occupied Tibet,” I told His Holiness, “and have passed out 3,000 pictures of you everywhere I went.” He raised his eyebrows. “Illegally, yes?” he asked. “Very illegally!” I confirmed. We laughed, but we all knew that a picture of him is a Tibetan’s most treasured possession and that to have one is punishable by death at the hands of Tibet’s Chinese rulers.
In the 102-year history of the Nobel Peace Prize, no one has deserved it more than Lhamo Dhondrub, the 14th Dalai Lama. As a man of true peace and compassion, he is unsurpassed. This is due both to his qualities as an individual and to the religion which enables him to optimize them.
From the President of the United States on down, we are subjected to claims that Islam is a “religion of peace.” To understand how absurd this claim is, just compare Islam to a real religion of peace: Buddhism.
There are about 400 million Buddhists in the world, and you don’t see them enslaving non-believers, chopping off the hands of criminals, stoning women to death accused of adultery, blowing themselves up in terrorist atrocities, or dancing in the streets celebrating the slaughter of women and children deemed to be their enemies.
Their holy scriptures do not advocate the murder of Buddhists who renounce their faith, or cutting off the fingers of those who refuse to accept Buddhism. Their founding prophet owned no slaves, ordered no assassinations, conducted no bandit raids of thievery upon merchant caravans, and didn’t have several hundred men beheaded in one day for refusing to believe him.
Buddhist teachings do not divide the world into two regions, Lands of Believers and Lands of War, nor advocate perpetual war be waged in the latter until their inhabitants accept Buddhism. There is no Buddhist legal code that Buddhists riotously and violently demand be forced upon entire societies.
In the words of the Dalai Lama,
“Hatred will not cease by hatred, but by love alone. This is the ancient law.”
Buddhism is a religion of peace and non-violence. Islam is its antithesis. Islam is a religion of violence and war.
I am not a Buddhist. I am not a believer in pacifism. But the last thing I want on this terrible anniversary of September 11 is attempts to appease Moslems by telling them their religion — the religion of the September 11 perpetrators who destroyed the World Trade Center Towers in the name of Islam — is on a moral par with a real religion of peace.
There are millions of Moslems who abhor violence and lead peaceful lives. Yet it does them no favor to pretend Islam is not a religion of war. For Islam to live in peace with the world, it is Islam that must change, not the world.
Islam has historical precedence for such change. The last people the 12th Century Crusaders wanted to fall into the hands of were the Sufis. The People of the Platform (named after disciples of Mohammed who met on the platform — suffe in Arabic — of the mosque at Medina) were thoroughly ruthless butchers.
In the centuries since, Sufism has been transformed into a doctrine of non-violence, teaching a path to Islamic enlightenment through a personal experience of the Divine rather than rote recitation of texts and unswerving adherence to religious regulations (compare what Jesus said to the Pharisees).
It is time for the Islamic world as a whole to follow the Sufi path. It is time for us, Americans who suffered the Islamic barbarism of September 11, to no longer ignore the truth about Islam being a Religion of War. It is time for all those of the civilized world to expect Islam’s transformation from violence to peace.
Moslems claim to worship Allah as “The Compassionate, the Merciful.” From now on they must behave as if they actually believe it.