Source: Darrell J. Fasching and Dell deChant Comparative Religious Ethics: a narrative Approach



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Source: Darrell J. Fasching and Dell deChant

Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach

Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2001. pp. 258-259

COMPARATIVE RELIGIOUS ETHICS
A NARRATIVE APPROACH

Darrell J. Fasching and Dell deChant

University of South Florida


It is unlikely that Malcolm X's stand on violence as a means to secure justice was based on the nuances of the historical development of the Islamic position on just wars. And of course, Malcolm was not the head of an Islamic state that could formally declare such a war. Perhaps Malcolm X should be compared to those Islamic revolutionaries in the contemporary world that have argued that Islam can be understood as justifying guerrilla tactics and terrorism under extreme conditions and have acted on their own initiative. But to engage in such actions, these revolutionaries have had to stretch the just-war tradition of Islam to breaking point. Moreover, Malcolm X advocated not the proactive aggression of guerrilla warfare but aggression in self-defense. In doing so we believe he actually stood closer to the teachings of Muhammad and the classical tradition. We would suggest that there are analogies between classical Islamic just-war thought and his position on the use of violence as a means to bring about racial justice and harmony (the kind he encountered in dar al-islam on the hajj) in an unjust or racist world (the dar al- harb of racist America).
In this book we have focused on Gandhi and the spiritual children of Gandhi (Nhat Hanh, King, and Heschel) - individuals whose lives converged around the non-violent protest of racism, colonialism, and all other forms of human prejudice in a post-Auschwitz and post-Hiroshima age. They protested segregation in America and American involvement in the Vietnam War, mindful of the lessons of Auschwitz and Hiroshima which reveal the ultimate self-destructive MADness of prejudice and hatred. In our account, Malcolm X stands apart as one who advocated the establishment of racial justice "by any means necessary." In a speech he made to domestic Peace Corps volunteers in December of 1964, less than three months before his death, Malcolm made it clear that he did not share Martin Luther King, Jr.'s commitment to non-violence:
I would like to say this: It concerns my own personal self, whose image they [the white press] have projected in their own light. I am against any form of racism. We are all against racism. The only difference between you and me is that you want to fight racism and racists non-violently and lovingly and I'll fight them the way they fight me. Whatever weapon they use, that's the one I'll use. I go for talking the kind of language he talks. You can't communicate with a person unless you use the language he uses. If a man is speaking French, you can talk German all night long, he won't know what you're talking about. You have to find out what kind of language he understands and then you put it to him in the language he understands.

I'm a Muslim, which means my religion is Islam. I believe in Allah. I believe in all the prophets, whoever represented God on this earth. I believe what Muslims believe: prayer, fasting, charity, and the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Mecca, which I've been fortunate to have made four or five times. I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don't believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn't want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn't know how to return that treatment. This is the only difference between you and me.


You believe in treating everybody right whether they put a rope around your neck or whether they put you in the grave. Well, my belief isn't that strong. I believe in the brotherhood of man, but I think that anybody who wants to lynch a Negro is not qualified for that brotherhood and I don't put forth any effort to get them into that brotherhood. You want to save him and I don't.
Despite the fact that I believe in the brotherhood of man as a Muslim, and in the religion of Islam, there is one fact also that I can't overlook: I'm an Afro-American and Afro-Americans have problems that go well beyond religion. We have problems that our religious organization in itself cannot solve and we have problems that no one organization can solve or no one leader can solve. We have a problem that is going to take the combined efforts of every leader and every organization if we are going to get a solution. For that reason, I don't believe that as a Muslim it is possible for me to bring my religion into any discussion with non-Muslims without causing more division, animosity, and hostility; then we will only be involved in self-defeating action. So based upon that, there is a group of us that have formed an organization. Besides being Muslims, we have gotten together and formed an organization that has nothing to do with religion at all: it is known as the Organization of Afro-American Unity. . .
Those of us in the Organization of Afro-American Unity have adopted as our slogan "by any means necessary" and we feel we are justified. Whenever someone is treating you in a criminal, illegal, or immoral way, why, you are well within your rights to use anything at your disposal to bring an end to that unjust, illegal, and immoral condition. If we do like that, we will find that we will get more respect and will be further down the road toward freedom, toward recognition and respect as human beings. But as long as we dillydally and try to appear that we're more moral by taking a beating without fight back, people will continue to refer to us as very moral and well disciplined persons, but at the same time we will be as far back a hundred years from now as we are today. So I believe that fighting those who fight us is the best course of action in any situation. . .
So I must emphasize, we are dealing with a powerful enemy, and again, I am not anti-American or un-American. I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn't mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don't even call it violence when it's self-defense, I call it intelligence. (Clarke 1969: 311-13)


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