Dawn Pisturino's Blog

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Humanitarian Aid and Peacekeeping in Somalia, 1992-1994

(Famine in Somalia, December 13, 1992. Photo by Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS.)

Jean Bethke Elshtain’s book, Women and War, insisted that “the roles men and women play in war are represented and narrated in the stories we tell about ourselves” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218). Women are represented as “beautiful souls” and men as “just warriors,” but ethicist Elshtain felt that this was too simplistic and that the roles were “more ambiguous and complex” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218) in reality. She believed that St. Augustine had the best understanding of humans and their relationship to war and peace because he saw that humans are fragile and limited in their ability to control the world and human impulses. She further elaborates on this theme in Augustine and the Limits of Politics. (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218-220) By the time she wrote Just War Against Terror, she was convinced that the United States had to embrace its role of most powerful nation and step up to the plate to address terrorism (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220,221).

Based on her beliefs, I believe she would have encouraged the United States’ involvement in Somalia. In an interview with Dissent magazine (2005), she said:

“Beginning with that principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us. So we are then obliged to consider this horrible situation and think about whether there is something we can do to stop it. Would the use of force make a difference in this situation? Minimally you are obliged to do that. Perhaps the use of force would not. But one must not just evade the question. Another minimal requirement is that if you have decided that you can’t intervene you are obliged to explain why that is, in light of the principle of equal moral regard.”

However, she would have recognized our limitations and possibilities for human inadequacy when dealing with the situation in Somalia.

The Role of the United Nations and the United States in Somalia

In 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre came to power in Somalia through a military coup. The regime became more and more repressive, and opposition forces removed him from office in January 1991. “The country descended into chaos, and a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions began to unfold” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1). The Somali people faced “the combination of civil war, a famine after a poor harvest, and a prolonged drought” (Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2).

The United Nations and the United States attempted to aid the Somali people in 1992, but “intense fighting between the warlords impeded the delivery of aid to those who needed it most, and so the United Nations contemplated stronger action” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2).

“There was a fairly lengthy period in which preventative diplomacy and the focused attention of the international community could have headed off the catastrophe in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 5). The United Nations and the international community could have engaged in diplomatic negotiations when: 1) the Somali National Movement (SNM) was repressed by Barre in 1988 and the situation exposed by Amnesty International and Africa Watch; 2) the Manifesto Group arose in 1990 and suggestions by the Inter-African Group “that the UN appoint a special envoy to conduct ‘shutter diplomacy’ in the Horn” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6) were squashed; 3) Barre left office in January 1991 with no replacement government in place and the UN declined to get involved until a year later, when it passed its first resolution on Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6).

From January to March 1992, UN resolutions “called for an arms embargo and increased humanitarian aid, and urged the parties to agree to a cease-fire, which they did through an UN-sponsored meeting in New York in February” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). In April, the Security Council approved UNOSOM, which “was intended to provide humanitarian help and facilitate the end of hostilities in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). However, these efforts met with resistance from warlord militia leaders Aideed and Ali Mahdi. In August, Operation Provide Relief was implemented which authorized the United States to deliver humanitarian aid and bring in five hundred peacekeepers (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). Later, a Hundred Day Plan was devised to bring together UN agencies and NGOs to deliver aid, but continued violence interfered with the plan (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7).

Bureaucracy at the United Nations also held up operations. “Food and medicine could not be distributed because of looting . . . [and] famine intensified as the civil war continued” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). People around the world reacted emotionally to the famine in Somalia, and “President George [H.W.] Bush announced the initiation of Operation Restore Hope” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7) on December 4, 1992. The United Task Force (UNITAF) was “a multinational coalition of military units under the command and control of the American military” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8) authorized by a United Nations resolution (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8). UNITAF’s goal was to provide “security in the service of humanitarian ends for a brief period” (United States Institute of Peace. 1994, pg. 8) in compliance with Chapter VII of the United Nations charter and allowed the use of force (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8-11).

Unfortunately, conflicts arose between the United Nations and UNITAF which impeded the efficiency of these efforts. Secretary General Boutros Ghali insisted on nationwide disarmament in Somalia with the United States in charge of implementation, but UNITAF refused. The task force was more interested in a cease-fire.  The UN also insisted on top-down reconstruction of the country, whereas the United States believed that reconstruction should begin at the local level. The UN refused to take long-term responsibility in the operation, insisting that UNITAF held that responsibility. The United States countered “that the project was limited not only in scope but in time, and that when certain humanitarian and security goals had been met, responsibility for Somalia would be turned back over to a ‘regular UN peacekeeping force’” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 10). When Ghali created the peacekeeping force, UNOSOM II, the United States agreed to participate (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 9,10).

On May 4, 1993, UNOSOM II assumed all military responsibilities in Somalia and became “the first UN peacekeeping force authorized under the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN charter” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 11). The new goal for the force was rebuilding Somalia and safeguarding the peace.

After Aideed and his soldiers killed twenty-four Pakistani and three American peacekeepers, the United Nations and United States agreed to go after Aideed. The effort resulted in the raid of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, which killed eighteen American soldiers. By the end of March 1994, all U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 12).

Responsibility of the International Community

The United Nations had a definite responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and to make an attempt to end the violence. This is the designated function of the United Nations. People around the world, shocked by the starvation in Somalia, were demanding action. The United States, as the most powerful country with the most resources, was obligated to get involved. Politically and morally, it was the right thing to do.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, as a proponent of St. Augustine and his writings, would have supported it because Augustine stressed love of neighbor and extending charity to others. To ignore the situation would have been immoral and inhuman.

The problem with Somalia isn’t that nations got involved. The problem is that the fierceness and tenacity of the warlord militias was underestimated, and bureaucracy and internal disagreements were allowed to undermine the operation, as outlined by the United States Institute of Peace. But both St. Augustine and Elshtain would have recognized that humans are imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world, and as such, there is only so much we can do to contain and control chaos.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 15, 2021; March 11, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Milestones: 1993-2000: Somalia,

       1992-1993. Department of State. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/somalia

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Mugabi, I. (2018, December). Opinion: How George h.w. bush’s failed somalia intervention

       shaped us-africa ties. DW. Retrieved from

       http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-how-george-hwbushs-failed-somalia-intervention-shaped-

       us-africa-ties/a-46598215

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon:  

       Routledge

Special Report. (1994). Restoring hope: The real lessons of Somalia for the future of                                                                                                                                       

       intervention. United states institute of peace. Retrieved from

       http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr950000.pdf

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Cicero’s Three Tenets for Just War

(Marcus Tullius Cicero)

It is difficult to determine just when the just war idea began. Aristotle used the phrase, “just war” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 4), but it is Cicero who developed a “systematic ethical project” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 8) around the concept of just war.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE) grew up in a wealthy Roman family, acquired a good education, and worked his way up the ladder to achieve the high political status of Consul. When Catiline tried to seize power over Rome by force, “Cicero had five of the conspirators executed without trial and was thereafter hailed as ‘the father of his country’” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 9). His experiences helped to shape his ideas about just war.

Cicero tried to place an emphasis on “virtuous behavior” (Stewart, 2018, pg.8) based on the principles of natural law. He believed that all civilized nations were bound by the same law and that “the god will be the one common master and general (so to speak) of all people” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 11). He expected all civilized nations to follow a course of laws, morals, and ethics that reflected the will of God. Following the will of God would lead nations to make the best decisions.

Out of this came Cicero’s idea of the “ideal statesman” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 14, 17, 18) who would have the wisdom to discern the difference between the justice of war and the necessity of war. After a thorough analysis, an ideal statesman would decide when conflict could be solved by diplomacy and debate, and when the use of force would be necessary. He would base his decision on what was best to ensure the safety and survival of the Roman Empire.

He developed three maxims:

     Jus ad bellum covered the justification for the use of force.

     Jus in bellum outlined the limitations imposed in the use of force.

     Jus post bellum offered guidelines about how to deal with participants after a war was over.  

          (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

If we adhere to Cicero’s idea about the ideal statesman then jus ad bellum is the most important. The decisions that leaders make can determine the fate of the whole nation. If they make wrong decisions out of a “selfish passion” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 15) for glory and ambition, justice has not been done, and the whole nation may suffer.

In order to justify the use of force, there must be a legitimate reason to declare war. Roman officials must have the authority (right thinking and right intention) to declare war. The decision to go to war must come as a last resort. There must be a high probability of a successful resolution. And the use of force must lead to more benefits than harm to society (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

The use of force in war will be limited to what needs to be done to defeat the other side.  It must never exceed the purpose of its use. It must only be aimed at “legitimate targets” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1). Discrimination in the use of force must be exercised by military leaders to achieve the objective and nothing more.

After the conflict is over, the winner must decide what to do with the survivors and post-war plunder. Can peace be restored? Has justice been done? Have grievances been resolved? The winner is responsible for restoring balance and harmony in the region and making sure that humanitarian efforts are made to help the survivors recover. This fulfills the principles of beneficence and honor (Stewart, 2018, pg. 13).

If peace cannot be restored and a nation continues to be a threat to the survival of the Roman Empire, Cicero concludes that necessity overrules justice and beneficence and complete annihilation is justified (Stewart, 2018, pg. 14-16).

Rome was a militarized society. Cicero served in the military and never discounted the inevitability of war. He believed in ius gentium (international obligations between nations) (Stewart, 2018, pg. 9). These international relations involved treaties and agreements made in “good faith” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 10). Broken treaties and other wrongs were justification for the use of force. But Cicero insisted that there were acceptable limits when following a path of revenge and retribution (Stewart, 2018, pg. 12). He believed that there were duties owed to the people who broke good faith and were defeated in battle (Stewart, 2018, pg. 13). This, for him, is what defined justice.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 6, 2021; March 4, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Brunstetter, D.R., & O’Driscoll, C. (Ed.). (2018). Just war thinking: From cicero to the 21st  

     century. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Stewart, G. (2018). Marcus tullius cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

     (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (8-19). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

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What is the Role of the Prophet Muhammad in Islam?

It is impossible to separate the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an from Islamic culture, society, politics, and religion. In the Islamic world, the Prophet Muhammad exemplifies the model of the ideal human, and the Qur’an outlines the duties and responsibilities (the rules, so to speak) of Muslim believers.

In the Qur’an, all of life belongs to Allah; and all believers owe their allegiance to Allah above all else (including family, clan, and country). The Prophet Muhammad never claimed to be anything more than a human being and the messenger of Allah. This places all the emphasis on Allah and away from his human representatives on earth.

Over the centuries, the Prophet Muhammad has been mythologized in many ways. A good example of this is the 16th century book, The Path of Muhammad by Sufi mystic Imam Birgivi, which assigned magical and supernatural powers to the Prophet.

But this is a departure from Muhammad’s original intent. The Qur’an clearly states in Surah 9:18 that “the Mosques of Allah shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day; perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) [daily prayers], and give Zakat [charitable alms] and fear none but Allah. It is they who are on true guidance” (Al-Hilali and Khan, 241). Any believer, therefore, who is sincere in his beliefs and actions can be a religious leader in Islam. Nowadays, however, it is more common for religious scholars to manage mosques and act as imams (religious leaders).

The mosque in my community, for example, was built by a local physician who was also an imam in his native country of Pakistan. He hired a religious scholar from Pakistan to be the full-time manager and imam, but he retains total control over the mosque. His control moderates how far the imam can go in conveying orthodox/unorthodox beliefs to the community. When the imam announced one Friday that all Muslims who do not pray the five daily prayers should be killed (an announcement that shocked this westernized community), his fundamentalism was quickly squashed, and he returned to Pakistan a few months later. As a result of this shocking pronouncement, I suspended my visits to the mosque.

Political power has always been important in Islamic history to protect the Islamic community and spread Islamic beliefs (Esposito 60). Muhammad established the first Islamic political state in Yathrib, which was later called Medina. Many Arabs in the town were open to new ideas (Salahi 183-184) and converted to Islam. But the town was also split by internal disagreements and opposing groups. Eventually, a delegation from the town “invited [the Prophet] to come to Yathrib as arbiter of their disputes and de facto ruler of the town” (Esposito 8-9). Muslims from Mecca migrated to Medina, with Muhammad following them in 622.

The Quraysh in Mecca continued to oppose Muhammad and his followers, which led to more persecution and warfare between the two groups. It is during this time that Muhammad’s first revelations about jihad (holy war) appeared in Surah 2:190-191: “And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you . . . And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out . . . But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers” (Al-Hilali and Khan, 47).

Later, when pagan, Jewish, and Christian communities were conquered by Muhammad’s armies and refused to convert to Islam, more revelations about jihad appeared in Surah 9:29: “Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizyah [protection tax levied by the Islamic state] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Al-Hilali and Khan, 243).

By the time of Muhammad’s death in 632, all of western Arabia was under his control (Esposito 10).

Muhammad’s death left a leadership vacuum which led to a major political schism in Islam that still persists today. Passages in the Qur’an can be vague and contradictory – open to many interpretations. And traditional reports of sayings and events attributed to the Prophet (hadith) are not always reliable. Such is the case concerning Muhammad’s successor.

“Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s close friend, was elected by the majority, but some believed that he would have wanted Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law, to be his successor (kalipha)” (Armstrong 158). This belief was rooted in the events which reportedly happened at Ghadir Khumm on March 10, 632. While returning from Hajj, the Prophet Muhammad stopped his caravan at Ghadir Khumm and gave one of his last great speeches. He honored his son-in-law, Ali, by saying, “One who has me as his master has Ali as his master” (Tahir-ul-Qadri 17). Muhammad referred to his son-in-law as mawla, which has many meanings but generally translates as “friend” or “helper.” This is how Sunni (mainstream) Muslims interpreted what he meant. But the supporters of Ali interpreted this to mean that the Prophet was giving absolute authority to Ali. A permanent political split occurred between Sunnis and Shiites (supporters of Ali) which lasts to this day. Violent clashes and competition for territory and believers broke out, which resulted in the death of Ali’s grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, by the Ummayad Caliph Yazid in 680 in the territory that now comprises Iraq (Armstrong 158-159). Shiites still regard Husayn as a martyr and honor his death every year. Sunnis and Shiites still fight over political leadership and territory. Iran, a Shiite country, remains in conflict with Sunni Saudi Arabia. And the goal to spread Islam around the world is still alive and well.

The unifying power of Islam, however, is the concept of ummah (community). Every member of the community acts as one body to worship Allah and create a just and equal social order. There is no separation between Allah and the “tribe.” A Muslim’s duty is, therefore, both theological and social, as one evolves from the other.

____ Tahir-ul-Qadri. The Ghadir Declaration. Lahore: Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications, 2002.

Al-Hilali, Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din, and Khan, Muhammad Muhsin. Interpretation of the    

       Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language, 15th ed. Riyadh: Darussalam, 1996.

Armstrong, Karen. A History of God. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993.

Birgivi, Imam. The Path of Muhammad. Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2005.

Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Salahi, Adil. Muhammad: Man and Prophet. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1995.

Dawn Pisturino, RN

December, 2018

Thomas Edison State University

Copyright 2018-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Jesus and Moses and the Qur’an

Artists’ Renderings of Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses

While Jews and Christians would recognize the story of Moses in the Qur’an as similar to the story in the Old Testament, the same cannot be said about Jesus. Stark theological differences between Christians and Muslims are clearly reflected in how Jesus is viewed in the Qur’an and the Islamic belief system.

“Moses is known as both a religious leader and a lawgiver.” All three Abrahamic religions portray him in this light. For Muslims, it goes a little farther. Moses (Musa) is regarded as both a Prophet (someone who spreads news from God to the people) and a Messenger (someone with a special mission from God).

The Qur’an mentions Moses more than 120 times because the story of his life and actions holds many lessons for humanity. Pharaoh represents an all-powerful ruler who enslaves people, worships many gods and goddesses, and sets himself up as a god. In Surah 28:38 he says, “O chiefs! I know not that you have an ilah (a god) other than me. So kindle for me (a fire), O Haman, to bake (bricks out of) clay, and set up for me a Sarhan (a lofty tower or palace) in order that I may look at (or look for) the Ilah (God) of Musa (Moses); and verily, I think that he [Musa (Moses)] is one of the liars.”

When Pharaoh has a dream that a challenger will rise up from the people of Israel and defeat him, Pharaoh embarks on a campaign to kill all the male children of the Israelites. Moses’ mother is inspired by God to build a waterproof basket and throw him into the river. The basket is found by the wife of Pharaoh, and Pharaoh agrees to raise the child as his own (this version differs from the Old Testament story). Moses’ sister steers Pharaoh into accepting Moses’ mother as the child’s wet nurse. Moses grows up as a Prince of Egypt with all the luxury and power that position entails. But he is different from Pharaoh.

While Pharaoh is arrogant and cruel, Moses is sensitive to oppression and suffering. In the Qur’an, Prophethood is conferred upon Moses when he attains adulthood. He grows up knowing about monotheism. When Moses kills one of the Egyptians (polytheists), he is horrified and vows to never help the polytheists again. He cries out in Surah 28:17: “My Lord! For that with which You have favored me, I will never more be a helper of the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners).” He escapes to the land of Midian, where he marries a chief’s daughter and starts a family of his own.

One day he sees a fire, and when he investigates, Allah (God) speaks to him: “Verily, I am Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn, and all that exists).” Allah tells him to throw down his stick, and it turns into a snake. Allah tells him to take out his hand from behind his cloak, and it turns white. Allah explains: “These are two Burhan (signs, miracles, evidences, proofs) from your Lord to Fir’aun (Pharaoh) and his chiefs. Verily, they are the people who are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” Moses asks Allah to give him his brother Aaron (Harun) as a helper, and Allah agrees.

When Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and his chiefs and perform the signs, they mock them, saying, “This is nothing but invented magic. Never did we hear of this among our fathers of old.” Allah eventually drowns Pharaoh and his chiefs, and this teaches that God will overcome and defeat “the Zalimun (wrongdoers, polytheists and those who disbelieved in the Oneness of the Lord (Allah), or rejected the advice of His Messenger Musa (Moses).”

After this, Moses receives the Torah (Taurat) from Allah “as an enlightenment for mankind, and a guidance and a mercy, that they might remember (or receive admonition).” Later on, Aaron watches over the followers of Moses in the desert while Moses goes up to Mount Sinai. Allah reaffirms his commitment to Moses and his mission. Then he gives Moses the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. (The lesson here is that Moses brought the law from God, and the Israelites were meant to follow it.)

While Moses is gone, the people make a golden calf out of gold ornaments. Then they regret what they have done. When Moses comes back, he angrily chides his brother and the people and asks for God’s forgiveness. Allah forgives them and divides the people into twelve tribes. He shows them where to find water and food. But the people who were committed to doing wrong “changed the word that had been told to them. So we sent a torment from the heaven in return for their wrong-doings.” The Qur’an repeatedly chides the Jews for not trusting in God and His mercy, committing polytheism, and changing the Torah and the word of God. Then the Qur’an exhorts the Jews and all people to accept Muhammad as the Prophet and Messenger from God and to follow his will.

Moses is presented as an historic figure and a real human person in the Qur’an. He is one of the special Messengers from God, along with Abraham and Joseph (who was kidnapped and sent to Egypt). On the other hand, “Jesus is a controversial prophet.” The Qur’an insists that Christians have perverted the message of Jesus, and therefore, God must cleanse him and raise him above the Christian heresy. Surah 3:55 says, “And (remember) when Allah said: ‘O Isa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that Isa (Jesus) is Allah’s son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (Monotheists, who worship none but Allah) superior to those who disbelieve [in the Oneness of Allah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, e.g. Muhammad, Isa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), or in His Holy books, e.g. the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the Qur’an] till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.'”

“In Islam, Mary’s purity and sinlessness highlight Isa (Jesus) as an important prophet. Islam considers Jesus to be one of Islam’s four main messengers, along with Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad.” But the prohibition against polytheism has led Muslims to reject altogether the divine side of Jesus Christ. He is regarded as no more special than any other prophet. He is always referred to as Jesus, Son of Mary, to highlight his humanness.

Muslims believe in the power of God to perform miracles. They have no problem believing in Jesus’ virgin birth. Just like God created the world with a word, “Muslims believe that Prophet Jesus was created by a word from God and this word was ‘Be!'” In this context, Jesus is also called “the word of God.” Mary, Jesus’ mother, is highly revered by Muslims as someone blessed by God. And yet, Muslims completely reject that Jesus — who was born by the power of God — had any special relationship to God. They regard the creation of Jesus as similar to the creation of Adam. God spoke the word “Be!” and Adam was created. God spoke the word “Be!” and Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb.

While Christians believe that Jesus received divine spirit from God and was, therefore, the Son of God, Muslims reject this idea as polytheistic. They also reject Christ’s crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension to heaven after forty days. The Qur’an does recognize that Jesus performed miracles and was sent by God to reaffirm the belief in Abrahamic monotheism. They also believe that the New Testament Gospels were revealed to Jesus, even though he did not write them down. Part of his mission was to amend Jewish law and to make “some things lawful which were otherwise forbidden.” He relaxed the burden of the law on the Jewish people. “God sent Prophet Jesus with the Injeel (Gospel) to correct and restore the divine law” which had been corrupted by Jewish leaders.

Muslims also believe that the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus out of pride “with full knowledge that he was the Christ.” Then, God lifted Jesus up to heaven before any harm could come to him. Everything the Christians believe about the crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is an illusion. The Qur’an addresses this issue in Surah 4:157: “And, because of their saying (in boast), ‘We killed Messiah Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ — but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Isa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary).”

In Surah 4:158, the story goes on: “But Allah raised him [Isa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.” An unfortunate effect of these beliefs is that Muslims view Christians as superior to Jews “because of Jewish rejection and crucifixion of Prophet Jesus.” But they also view themselves as superior to both groups because of their acceptance of the Oneness of God and Muhammad as the Messenger of God. They also reject the Gospels of the New Testament as evolving over hundreds of years and not existing in their original forms.

The biggest point of contention between Muslims and Christians is the concept of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And it is a point that can never be resolved without Muslims converting to Christianity or Christians converting to Islam.

Abrahamic monotheism recognizes the Oneness of God and rejects polytheism. This is the major theme running through the Qur’an. Muslims believe that Christians have invented an all-new “conceptualization of the nature of God that contradicts the Jewish and Muslim notions of oneness.”

After Jesus’ death (or disappearance for Muslims), there was much debate over the person and nature of Jesus. Some people believed in his divine nature. Other people saw him as strictly human. Emperor Constantine intervened and called for the Council of Nicea. The Arian notion of Jesus as human was discredited. The Nicene Creed affirmed the divinity and eternity of Jesus Christ. The trinity was accepted based on the Old Testament concept of “the one Godhead.” The Second Nicene Council affirmed the divinity of Jesus Christ, once again. Anybody spreading Arianism was condemned and persecuted. Later on, people who supported Arianism were easily converted to Islam because of their belief in his humanness.

In short, the rejection by Muslims of Jesus Christ as a divine, eternal being can be summed up in three points: “Jesus Christ is not divine because he was a created being; he was not divine because his rank and status was not coequal to God; and Jesus Christ exhibited limitations and dependence which go against the Abrahamic concept of God.”

“Muslims believe that Prophethood is the highest honor that any being can be bestowed by God.” God can have no partner, children, or siblings. Therefore, Jesus Christ cannot be divine or the Son of God according to the Qur’an and the Islamic view of God.

Dawn Pisturino

February 17, 2019

Thomas Edison State University

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact the author for sources.

5 Comments »

The World is Too Much with Us

silence_title_image

 

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. –Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

~ William Wordsworth (1770-1850) ~

My Thoughts:

If this was true over 150 years ago, it’s even more true today.

The world is overwhelming us, beating us down, blasting wave after wave of propaganda and lies into our heads. Who knows the truth anymore? Who knows what’s right from wrong? Who even knows what’s real? The constant prattle of commentators/agitators, politicians, and celebrities is driving all of us mad. Where is the escape? When will it end?

Escape into the wilderness, they say, but a tumultuous crowd awaits us there. The noise! — oh, the noise! I long to escape it.

Quiet, peace, serenity, silence — a long-forgotten reality.

I will find it inside myself.

Dawn Pisturino

September 28, 2017

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Karl Marx was a Deadbeat

kapital stamp

For all of his talk about freeing the workers, Karl Marx himself was a deadbeat who never worked. He forced his wife and children to live in poverty, supported by his friend, Friedrich Engels. Marx fathered an illegitimate child while still married and persuaded Engels to marry the woman.

His in-depth analysis of capitalism (Das Kapital) was pertinent in its time, but Marx failed to recognize that capitalism is a resilient and adaptable economic system.

Karl Marx is now regarded as one of the founders of sociology because of his thorough study of capitalist society and development of conflict theory. But his predictions about the demise of capitalism and the rise of communism proved to be dead wrong.

People who still follow him are deluding themselves, at best. Millions of people around the world have died in the name of Marxism/Communism/Bolshevism/Castroism/Maoism/Socialism — something Bernie Sanders doesn’t seem to comprehend and neglects to share with his followers.

Don’t be misled by pretty words and false promises! The people attracted to Marxism (I was one of them) are people on the fringe who feel powerless and angry. The idea of overthrowing the system sounds romantic and gives them a false sense of power. But people rarely get what they want. It’s all too easy to go from the frying pan into the fire.

America is still the greatest country in the world, and people who cannot appreciate her, should consider leaving.

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Be an Independent Thinker!

the-thinker

The Thinker by Rodin

In a world bombarded by information, where are the independent thinkers?

Where do the fresh, untarnished minds hang out?

Where does ORIGINALITY rear its beautiful head?

In a world deafened by conformity instead of individuality, the imaginative Creators of art, music, literature, and science are silenced under the dull roar of sameness, mediocrity, and

group think.

I will not be hampered by intimidation!

I will not be silenced by coercion!

I will not bow down to threats!

I will rise above the mundane crowd and be, above all,

AN INDEPENDENT THINKER!

Dawn Pisturino

February 7, 2017

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Marx’s Conflict Theory

 

karl-marx

 

Marx’s conflict theory is having a profound influence right now in urban areas, especially among young people and minorities. Groups such as Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panthers  openly advocate separation from mainstream society due to the unfair, biased, and overbearing power of the dominant culture and the ruling class.

For them, laws reflect bias and unfair treatment and punishment of the poor and minorities by police and the American justice system. They understand perfectly that their communities have been left behind by globalization and the influx of uneducated, unskilled immigrant labor. Some of them advocate the overthrow of the American capitalist system and the creation of a communist or socialist society. They believe this is the only path to equality, happiness, and economic freedom.

Using class struggle as a shield, these groups justify inter-racial random killings, police ambushes, weapons hoards, acts of terrorism, riots, violent protests, and every other conceivable crime. They feel no shame or remorse because they see themselves as victims fighting for a cause. In their view, the police and other authoritarian figures are the real criminals. Poverty and economic disparity are the real crimes.

Unfortunately, they do not direct their zeal into cleaning up their own neighborhoods. They do not use their skills to benefit their own communities. Their goal is to strike fear into the dominant society with threats, disruption, and chaos. In fact, a strong law and order response threatens their agenda and their goals.

Such a politicized movement can only turn the dominant society against them. Mainstream Americans want law and order.

Dawn Pisturino

November 9, 2016

Criminology 225, Mohave Community College,

Kingman, Arizona

Copyright 2016 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Radical Writings: Direct Democracy

Your-vote-is-your-voice

Every condition which exists in the civilized (i.e., capitalist) society today was predicted by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels 150 years ago in The Communist Manifesto of 1848.

The expansion of free trade on a global scale; the continual upgrading and revolutionizing of the means of production; the loss of human values and personal self-worth; the degradation of the family; the wage slavery and dehumanization of modern day workers; the increasing disparity  in wealth between “the haves” and “have nots”; the concentration of power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands; market fluctuations with their resultant periods of economic boom and bust; the emergence of women into the labor force; the reactionary conservatism of the middle-class; the necessity of the minimum wage: all of these conditions of modern society were already foreseen in the distant past.

It is, therefore, fair to say that the problems afflicting modern civilization are not the result of liberal or conservative political parties; Democrat or Republican policies; religious or secular policies; racial or gender policies. Rather, the problems plaguing American society today — and which seem so insurmountable — derive exclusively from the nature of the capitalist economic system itself!

This is a fact which the national media strives ever harder to explain away and cover up. This is a basic truth which our liberal and conservative leaders choose to ignore.

But the truth cannot be suppressed forever. The truth will set us free.

Most Americans are already conscious of the fact that they are virtually powerless to change conditions in this country without resorting to radical means. Since most Americans abhor violence, however, they convince themselves that change is not practical or not possible. They console themselves with trips to the shopping malls; dull their senses with mindless TV and videos; control their negative anxieties with mood-altering substances.

We already see that this kind of self-delusion and self-indulgence serves no useful end. As the American people become more dull-witted and inhibited, society crumbles all around us.

In the midst of economic abundance, social degradation and political chaos run rampant.

It is therefore fruitless to try and organize people into a militant force. Unions, alternative political parties, political action committees, etc. — few, if any, of these organizations ever effect permanent change.

It is simply not enough to verbally attack the prevailing political/economic/social system. In order to win the war, the working class must become the rulers of the system.

But how can this be accomplished?

By empowering the people!

We are taught from birth that America is a democratic country. In reality, Americans support a representative form of government. We may elect our leaders in free elections, but the decisions made by those leaders are not determined by the people who elect them. The decisions made by political leaders at the federal, state, and local levels are, more often than not, determined by economic factors and the people who wield the power of money. This, then, is not democracy. It is merely power concentrated in the hands of a minority who pretend to do the will of the majority. Democracy in America is, therefore, a sham. The right to vote is equally false and misleading.

Representative government may have been a shining viable solution 200 years ago, but it is no longer effective in our vast, complicated society.

Then, what is the solution?

The only viable alternative to representative government is Direct Democracy.

Computer technology (specifically, the global networks) makes it possible for the American people to vote directly on issues affecting them as individuals and society as a whole.

We no longer need intermediaries who patronize us and throw us just enough crumbs to keep us from really rebelling against the system.

Empowering the people is the only alternative to outright violent revolution and social upheaval. Once the concentration of power is in the hands of the majority, we can re-shape the nature of politics, the economic system, and the entire social fabric. In fact, this will be an inevitable result of taking control of the political process.

Once the American people realize that they can control their own lives politically, they may eventually realize that they can direct their own lives economically, thereby instituting changes in the economic system and promoting a more harmonious social environment.

I urge every American citizen who cherishes the right to control his/her own life to work NOW towards the fulfillment of Direct Democracy in this country. With the power in our hands, we can bring about social evolution and create a better, brighter future for ourselves and our descendants.

Dawn Pisturino

March 26, 1998

Published in the Committee for Direct Democracy website and the Committee for Direct Democracy Information Packet, 1998-2000, The New Unionist (1998), and the Discussion Bulletin, May-June 1998.

2019 Response:

I no longer support the idea of Direct Democracy because it turns into mob rule. The U.S. Constitution provides the protections we need to protect the rights of ALL citizens of the United States.

Dawn Pisturino, June 3, 2019

Copyright 1998-2019 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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C.S. Lewis on Equality and Democracy

CS_Lewis

from “The Screwtape Letters”

Screwtape, “a very experienced Devil”:

” . . . democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting . . .And of course is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated . . . that all men are equal. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction . . . the most degrading . . . of all human feelings. . . The feeling which prompts a man to say I’m as good as you . . .

“No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did . . . The claim to equality . . .is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.

“And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation . . . No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food . . . ‘They’ve no business to be different. It’s undemocratic.’

” . . .The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it — make it respectable and even laudable — by the incantatory use of the word democratic.

“Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labor more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level.

” . . . Meanwhile, as a delightful by-product, the few (fewer every day) who will not be made Normal and Regular and Like Folks and Integrated intend to become in reality the prigs and cranks which the rabble would in any case have believed them to be.

” . . . What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence — moral, cultural, social, or intellectual . . . Let no man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals.

” . . . dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be ‘undemocratic.’

” . . . All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish . . .As an English politician remarked not long ago, ‘A democracy does not want great men.’

“. . . And what we must realize is that ‘democracy’ in the diabolical sense (I’m as good as you, Being like Folks, Togetherness) is the finest instrument we could possibly have for extirpating political democracies from the face of the earth.

“For ‘democracy’ or the ‘democratic spirit’ (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of sub-literates, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and quick to snarl or whimper at the first hint of criticism. And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be. For when such a nation meets in conflict a nation where children have been made to work at school, where talent is placed in high posts, and where the ignorant mass are allowed no say at all in public affairs, only one result is possible.

” . . . If the whole tendency of their society is opposed to every sort of excellence, why did they expect their scientists to excel?

” . . .I’m as good as you is a useful means for the destruction of democratic societies.”

1961

54 years later, C.S. Lewis’ prophetic words have been fulfilled in the United States of America.

Dawn Pisturino, RN

2015

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