Un-Deifying Evil

People are never so completely and enthusiastically evil as when they act out of religious conviction                      

-Umberto Eco, The Prague Cemetery

            There were cults in ancient times that considered human sacrifice as one way to propitiate the gods. The younger the human-being, the more devout the act of worship, so much so, that in some cults, new born babies were burnt alive as an offering to particular gods. Impossible as it is to imagine that they could exist in these modern “civilised” times, the fact is that such cults and practices are around even today. How else would one explain the carnage that took place in Peshawar on Tuesday? That this act was carried out by men who claim to profess the religion the very name of which spells peace should not mislead anyone. The incarnations of evil that carried out the bloodbath actually belong to these barbaric creeds, no matter what other religion they claim to be following.

            Transmogrification, the process of borrowing symbols and ideologies, is not an unknown thing in the history of religions. A pagan religion’s symbols and iconology would become the part of a new religion like, say, Christianity, and its practices would be absorbed into the new belief. The barbaric practices of the ‘holy warriors’ who have made terror synonymous with religion are enough to suggest that they have reverted to the barbaric cults of old. Any practices and elements of the religion they claim to profess is just a sort of reverse transmogrification. This is perhaps the only way to reconcile the contradictions between what these ‘religious warriors’ profess and what they practise.

            Religion is all about order as opposed to chaos and disorder. While this is true of all great religions, it is especially true of Islam, which rose in the arid wastes of Arabia, and in a matter of years changed a region steeped in ignorance into the fount of a remarkable civilization which was to make its mark across the globe. Terror in the name of religion is the biggest paradox because it contradicts the very ideology that it purports to uphold. The terrorists who carried out the Peshawar massacre may proclaim the Islamic kalimah ‘there is no God but Allah’ but by their acts they have negated this belief they have attempted to usurp the Divine Privilege of judging the deeds of men, more so when it comes to matters of faith. Would the delusional members of this ilk have us believe that the ‘One and Only God’ requires their cruelty to uphold what He has decreed?

            While this latest carnage – the cold-blooded murder of nearly 150 innocent children – has evoked widespread condemnation for the perpetrators, this won’t suffice. What is required is not condemnation of an isolated incident, no matter how ghastly, but condemnation of the ideology of terror itself. The end never justifies the means, and this applies to terror more than anything else. It has to be understood that there is nothing like ‘good terror’ and ‘bad terror’. Unless this fact is acknowledged, the widespread condemnation of the dastardly massacre in Peshawar amounts to nothing more than hypocrisy and transient mass hysteria.

            The brainwashed zombie who blows himself up in a suicide bombing should not be confused with a’ glorious warrior of Islam,’ regardless of whether the target of his attack be someone clearly perceived to be an enemy and an oppressor. Evil is not an antidote for evil, and those who resort to it to counter what they perceive to be an equal or an even greater evil end up becoming its accessories rather than its adversaries. A suicide bomber blows himself up to destroy what he has been indoctrinated to think deserves destroying, but isn’t it equally clear that in the process he also blows up all that he claims he stands for and is fighting for – his religion. It has to be understood that terror, especially in the name of religion, is not about devotion but about a sickness of the mind, and a perversion that changes all that is essentially good into the essence of evil.

            Let the heart-wrenching images of the kids murdered in Peshawar bring this home to us, and make us accept that terror in the name of religion is nothing but deified evil.

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