Discussing religious ethics in wars

Sheikh Joban speaks to members of the CCC and the MSA during the clubs’ joint forum on March 9
Sheikh Joban speaks to members of the CCC and the MSA during the clubs’ joint forum on March 9

Two of Bellevue College’s clubs took cues from world leaders when they held a forum concerning “Religions in War” on Tuesday, March 9 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in N201.

BC’s Campus Crusade for Christ and Muslim Student Association met to discuss Christian and Islam war ethics.

Anas Elmesai of MSA began the discussion by introducing the purpose of the forum. “We’re going to basically unravel some of the misconceptions of Islam … we have to differentiate what is politics and what the actual teachings are,” said Elmesai.

Elmesai then introduced one of the speakers, Sheikh Joban. Joban was born in Indonesia but he studied at a top university in Egypt.

David Sassaman of CCC introduced Stephen Janho, who also spoke at the forum. Janho is the pastor at Crossroads Bible Church.

Before beginning the discussion, Joban gave an hour-long presentation concerning Islam and its teachings. The purpose of the presentation was to give students information about Islam and to clarify any questions the group may have had.

“Islam is not just a religion, it is a way of life,” said Joban. He discussed the six beliefs of Islam (the belief in God, angels, the scriptures, messengers/prophets, day of resurrection, divine destiny), the five pillars of the religion, and he extensively spoke about the Qur’an, Islam’s prophet Muhammad, and the Qur’an’s messages.

Joban ran out of time before he could elaborate on many of the issues associated with Islam in the world today; i.e.; women, the hijab, democracy, and most pertinent to the forum, Jihad.

Joban gave three definitions for Jihad, one linguistic definition and two Islamic definitions. According to Joban, the linguistic meaning of Jihad is “striving-struggling” and the Islamic meanings are “non-violent struggle within oneself for a life of virtue” or “fighting to establish justice, which is a supreme goal.”

Joban also listed rules from the Qur’an that Muslims must obey in times of war, such as never injure prisoners of war, never kill animals, never destroy crops.

After Joban shared the rules with the group, one of the forum’s participants asked “How come so much of that has happened in the name of Islam and Allah?”

Joban explained that “There are good Muslims and bad Muslims … killing the ‘occupier’ is considered a holy war for [the Taliban] … all Muslims agree the Taliban are narrow-minded.”

A member from MSA then asked Janho the same question concerning the Crusades.

Janho explained to the students that Christians, through the teachings of the New Testament, now believe the Crusades were unjust. “[The Crusades were] wrong and [they were] sinful,” said Janho. 

The discussion once again turned toward Muslim extremists and terrorists.

“There [are] going to be Muslims who contradict the teachings of Islam,” said Elmesai in response to a question raised over the religious justification for war and how it relates to the justification of terrorists who claim to be Muslim.

However, the discussion quickly lost focus after Joban told the group that, in Islam, comparing anyone or anything to God is an unforgivable sin and “to say Jesus is the Son of God is a sin,” said Joban.

Joban explained how one could be forgiven for their sins in Islam: feeling genuinely guilty, a promise to God not to commit the sin again, and finally repenting.

The forum digressed into a discussion concerning Islam and Christianity rather than religious ethics in war. Nonetheless, students from both CCC and MSA continued to talk and share questions even after the scheduled time for the forum was over.

Joban left campus almost immediately after the discussion ended, but Janho answered questions for an extended period of time.

Members of MSA and CCC expressed the desire to continue discussions between the two groups in the future and to leave the gates of communication and understanding open.