In the name of God

Shahin_Sorekli.jpgThousands were fleeing, some on foot, others in cars. Chaos was every where. Some women were screaming while young men were shouting words that depicted cursing, swearing, and here and there threats of vengeance. But the majority of these people, who have turned their backs on their homes, some of whom sacrificed their youth to build, were drowned in clouds of uncertain thoughts like patients just awakening in a hospital bed after a major operation. The view was ugly and had an ancient smell about it that represented man’s animosity and hatred towards his fellow men.

An old man in his eighties left the road and followed a little path that lead to the mountains. He reached a cave that did not seem to be unfamiliar to him, entered it and faced one of its walls:

“Dear God! In Your name old nations were uprooted from this planet; cultures were eradicated, men and women burned and stoned. Under banners carrying Your name they massacred and obliterated. Thousands of years have elapsed since Your name entered the synagogues, churches and mosques of the Middle East. The prophets one after another were here, apparently for one reason, yet the loathing never ceased and each group deemed itself to be righteous chosen by You, supported by You and loved by You.

“Dear God! In this part of the world Your name is every where and in every mouth. It has been stamped on walls, on banners and on medallions hung around the neck. Your name can be heard and seen even in the midst of every kind of smoke, from that of barbequed liver to that of explosions. Your name has even become a part and parcel of life on the street. It can be heard while theft is occurring, while politicians are swindling, while prostitution is in practice and while the most vicious murders are taking place. Even cars are not excluded from Your name. Your name decorates many vehicles in this part of the world.

“Dear God! Your name is on flags made of many colours and when a rocket is fired from ground or from the sky your name is heard before and after it explodes. The one who pulls the trigger mentions Your name, the one who is hit utters Your name and the one who mourns the dead seeks help through Your name. Your name has been agonised with their deeds, wounded with their injustice and polluted with many kinds of their smoke. Your name has been drowned in the blood they shed and insulted with what it has been used and abused for. You have been betrayed dear God!

You addressed mankind while each group of men made you a God of theirs. And there are groups within groups and factions within factions with each claiming, or believing, You are on their side. Century after century passed, kings came and went and empires were born and vanished, yet the ocean of their hatred is still full and Your name instead of bringing peace to this earth, as You meant, has become the symbol of confrontation, hostilities and killing.

“Dear God! I am not here to ask you to spare my life, nor to beg you to protect my family. The children I had have many years ago left me and this land. I am here only to mourn the state Your name is in, the condition of morality, and to offer my condolences to humanity that has been murdered in Your name.

“Dear God! They present You as almighty and you have no need for greatness as You are; they remind us of Your vengeance but You are much nobler than wanting to avenge; and while Your name is praised they take the souls You created, they harm the nature You offered them and they destroy life and happiness that You considered sacred. And all that on Your behalf, in Your name, and for You, according to them! They eat each other’s flesh and pass the rivers of their wrath to the souls of their infants to make sure the ocean of their hatred will forever remain full.

“Dear God! They misunderstood You. They turned You into a tribal chief. You desired harmony, they cause discord. You recommended love, they seeded detestation. You advised sharing, they chose greed. You wanted coexistence, they used oppression and aimed at annihilating the other groups. You advocated knowledge and wisdom but they followed tyrants and the ignorant. You said forgive, they sought vengeance. And while it was said that “God has created man in his own image” they wanted to change God’s image to fit theirs.”

After a while the old man left the cave. Reaching the road that went northward, he suddenly shouted:

“Let no one foul the name of God. Let no one seek killing and vengeance in His name. God is everyone’s God. Do not abuse His name as if He were your property. Regardless of what religion you follow, if you adore God do not praise Him day and night as He would prefer you to love each other; live and let live…”

Some people could not hear the old man’s voice while others heard it but did not understand the words. Two men approached him and one of them said:

– Hey old man! You are senile, shut your mouth or we’ll shut it for you.

The old man shut his mouth and continued walking silently.
On the same day and exactly at this time a women in black Islamic dress was carrying two children while running in a devastated street in southern Beirut. She was looking at the sky and screaming, “Oh God, please punish these Jewish tyrants.” Not that far from her, in Haifa, a Jewish woman carrying her wounded daughter was looking at the sky and imploring God to “protect our children from the Islamic evil.” At this very moment an Iraqi Christian woman in a house located in a Baghdad suburb was praying to God to “keep my children safe in this turmoil our country is going through.” And while these three mothers were asking God to protect their children, some where in Iraq a man screamed “God is Great” and exploded himself in the midst of a crowd. And all those who were killed and wounded, also the onlookers, uttered the name of God.

The old man on the road in southern Lebanon suddenly trembled. As if feeling the agony of the mothers, fathers, wives, sisters and the children of the dead and wounded all over this region, “The Cradle of the Prophets,” he sat on the side of the road and wanted to cry. He couldn’t. Tears refused to pour from his eyes. He sighed and uttered these words: Ya Rab, unquth il-bashariyya min al-shar wa law min ajli xaatir il-ummahaat, (God, save humanity from evil, even if only for the sake of the mothers)!

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