Beliefs and values are an essential component of any human society. Attitudes and behaviors stem from our fundamental beliefs and value system. Frictions within a society and among nations develop when differences in beliefs and values are negatively exploited willfully in pursuit of narrow interests mostly at a tangent to universal human values. A book, Belief, Values and Attitudes explains the terms Belief, Values and Attitudes in these words.
“A belief is an internal feeling that something is true, even though that belief may be unproven or irrational e.g. I believe that there is life after death”.
“A value is a measure of the worth or importance a person attaches to something; our values are often reflected in the way we live our lives e.g. I value my freedom of speech or my family”.
“An attitude is the way a person expresses or applies his beliefs and values, and is expressed through words and behavior. I get upset when I hear cruelty to children and animals or I hate school”.
Besides dominance of territories and resources, the 20th and 21st century’s conflicts have witnessed and are witnessing a visible conflict of systems attempting to impose their values over others with the stronger mostly taking advantage of the economically, militarily and technologically deprived. Since, coincidently, the weaker countries happens to be mostly Muslims they have been compelled to employ violent means to attract international conscious demanding justice in defending their territories, resources and way of life. As there are no visible signs and intent of having an international mechanism truly trusted to dispense justice in implementing universal values, the struggle by the weak with whatever in their possession continues at the cost of great human and material loss, with no end in sight. It’s a tragedy of its own kind that despite having many things in common, both in the beliefs and value system of various religions and systems, the lust for dominating the weak and poor in totality through injustices, coercion and violence continues unabated.
Christianity and Islam (besides other small religions and belief systems) being two predominant and great religions on the globe have immensely contributed to human civilization over centuries capitalizing on their strengths. What therefore, are the universal values that that can be utilized towards common good of humanity? The Ten Commandments form the basis of entire Christian faith. These are now briefly covered. One, worship only one God, Jesus says, “hear O` Israel, the Lord, our Lord is one” (NIV, Mark 12:28-30). Two; respect all people, “love your neighbor as yourself” (NIV Mark12:31). Three; be humble, “humility distinguishes the wise leader from the arrogant power seeker” (Proverbs 17:7, Matthew 20:20-28). Four; be honest, being held as very important value throughout Bible and any deception to gain an advantage or harm another is prohibited by The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:6). Five; live a moral life, “do you not know that your body is a temple of Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God”… (NIV 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Six; be generous with time and money, “we can give our money and our time to charity” … (Thessalonians 3:10-12). Seven; practice what you preach, Jesus couldn’t stand hypocrites. ” It is not the things that we say that really matter, it is the things that we do” (Matthew 7:15-20). Eight; don’t be self-righteous, “no one is perfect; we all are sinners in one way or another” (Roman 3:23, 1 John 1: 8). Living a moral life means taking responsibility for controlling our own behavior. Nine; don’t hold a grudge, “bearing a grudge and seeking revenge are never appropriate responses to a perceived wrong” (NIV Matthew 5:38-40). Ten; forgive others, “if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your father will not forgive your sins” (NLT, Matthew 6:14-15).
Besides the fundamentals of Islamic beliefs, the Islamic value system are also straight from Allah Almighty. These are now covered. One; Justice, “stand out firmly for justice, as witness to Allah even if it be against yourself” … (Quran 4:135). Two, Patience, “be patient, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do well” (Quran 11:115). Three, Honesty, and “do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know” (2:42). Four, Humility, and “the servants of the most merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily and when the ignorant address them harshly they say words of peace” (Quran 25:63). Five, Equality, and “their Lord responded to them, never will I allow to be lost the worker among you whether male or female: you are of one another” … (Quran 3:195). Besides, values such as racial equality (49:13), honoring parents (17:23-24), fair trade (83:1-3), sanctity of human life (6:151) and cooperating in righteousness (5:2) are some other values straight from the Holy Quran.
Give the above, what then is the difference between the two value systems that today the bulk of us across the religious divide are made to believe that the two religions and the two great civilizations cannot coexist in peace and harmony? With the bulk of western society better educated than the rest, it is morally more incumbent on them to persuade its leadership to be in harmony with the Muslim world rather than hatred based on falsehood and ignorance. In support of their rightness, the sane western society need to remind its leadership that in recorded history there are no Muslim equivalent of Nazi extermination camps, nor Muslim conquests by genocide on the scale perpetrated by Europeans in Americas and Australia, nor Muslim equivalent of Stalinist terror, pol pot`s killing fields, or the Muslim version of Dutch Reformed Church backed apartheid in South Africa or the racist culture of old South in the US with its brutalities inflicted upon black people. The current generation claiming to be more civilized owes it to their future generations lest they also go into history worse than their predecessors of the 20th and early 21st centuries.