The current crises in Syria and the unrest arising from those who wish to oust the President seem to have created a stalemate and this does not make for peaceful co-existence with fellow countrymen and women. No one will risk travelling to areas where such problems are identified or exist. This is because safety or well being cannot be guaranteed. I am sure many people would share similar views with me. Day by day the number of lives lost in the conflict increases, the number of people maimed increases, the countless number of families split increases, the number of people displaced is unthinkable, the neighbouring countries take in more refugees and the number of properties destroyed increases. Money spent on arms and ammunition is phenomenal.

This money could have been put into better projects to improve the standard of lives. Instead, the money is spent enriching manufacturers of weapons of death and destruction. Any bullet fired or bomb that explodes is wasted money because it has not been used for anything good. The amount of destruction of property during these two years of conflict, which I will say is senseless, cannot be imagined. If it is possible for the leaders of the warring factions to take an aerial or terrestrial view of the war affected parts of Syria and sit back and reflect on the self inflicted damage done to their country, I am sure they will be sorry for what has happened to their country. We must not forget that Syria existed in the Old Testament biblical times. It was at one time very strong that it surrounded Israel and stopped them from reaping their crops II Kings 7.

It hosted the immediate disciples of Jesus Christ, The Acts of the Apostles 9. Syria ought to have been centre of civilization but for what they are doing to themselves. Today, what position in development is Syria occupying? I am sure that Syria does not need outside intervention to bring this war to an end or call a truce. What those involved in this conflict have failed to realise is that in any war there is no victor or vanquish.
When I think of Syria and the Middle East I cannot but help think of God and His omnipotence. This makes me think of God and His blessings on Syria and the Middle East. Syria and the Middle East do not need to spend too much money to make good holiday resorts to generate income. Then I think about Islam and what it teaches; ‘submission’ and I begin to wonder if those that set fire or bomb places set aside for the worship of the Creator or fight to kill people and destroy properties in those troubled regions are true Muslims. As a religious scholar, I wonder if they realize that to attain heaven one has to keep God’s commandments which is what Islam is all about. And one of God’s commandments is, “You shall not kill”. God in giving this commandment did not qualify it. That is to say that, He did not give condition under which killing is permissible. If Islam teaches submission and some members engage in wanton destruction of properties as well as killing others, then I will say that those who engage in such practices need to think again and re-evaluate their belief. God commands that we love one another. It is by loving one another that one can claim to love God. If we do not love our neighbour whom we see how can we claim to love God whom we do not see? God resents worship that is not backed by obedience and righteousness.

If given the opportunity I will not mind coming across to Syria and speak with both the Government and the rebel’s representatives, I am sure by the time the Lord speaks through me to both sides there would be a true and long lasting cease fire. There will also be pardon for those who have been led astray into carrying out such destruction and killing for the past two years. There will be reconciliation and healing as no one is perfect. We are bound to make mistakes, sin or offend and when we do and realise that we did and ask for forgiveness we expect pardon. Islamic leaders and preachers in these regions should teach and preach to their followers to follow good examples and seek peaceful settlement of the unrest. Anyone who hates another has killed in his or her mind already and so has not kept God’s commandment that says, ‘Do Not Kill’. And the end result is hell. There is no such thing as being martyred and given seven virgins. In heaven no one marries. In my book; Images In Places Of Worship published end of September 2012, I pointed out that peace is possible without violence. I gave example of those who sought peace and found it. I also gave examples of those who genuinely pardoned those who ill-treated them and moved on as people of the same notion. Any person who embarks in violence should think again. Anyone who engages in violence is living in the past. Violence is against any religion. God does not force anyone to worship Him but there are consequences if you don’t. God expects worship out of love and not under compulsion. Worshipping God out of love for Him as our Creator gives us an edge over one who is being forced to do so. As a religious scholar I know that violence is not what the three religions that worship a monotheist God is all about.

It is worse for those who kill people who are in places set apart for the worship of the Creator. Their punishment will be greater. Their leaders who condone or send their fellow citizens or members to do so will have greater punishment because they are supposed to know better and have not acted in the proper manner. They have distorted the words of God for selfish reasons and the punishment of that is eternal damnation. The three religions that worship a monotheist God all claim to be descendants of Abraham so why should they think of being violent to one another. Besides, Syria is one country and is not trying to split into different countries. Hate begets violence.

By merely hating, the one has killed in his/her mind. And that means disobeying God’s commandment. Violence is a sin. Jesus commands; “Love your enemies, do good to those who mistreat you that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” If you love only those who love you, how can you say that you are doing the will of God because pagans do the same? It is by loving your enemy that you can truly say you are doing the will of God. Also, by loving your enemy you are showing that you are superior to them because they have not learnt to love. There is honour in peaceful settlement of disputes. God is LOVE. He is not a Violent God but a forgiven God. Being unforgiving in fact makes one yield to another’s control. Forgiveness therefore frees the forgiver. If God our Creator sends His rain on the wicked as well as the just and also allows His sun to shine on the wicked and the just, why must we see another as infidel and undeserving of God’s love? God has a way of punishing the wicked. So let us leave that to God.

Violence in any region chases away tourists. Revenue that would have been derived from tourism is lost. It is your property that you are destroying. Pope John Paul II once said that it was impossible merely to visit Auschwitz, without thinking with fear how far hatred can lead one, how far man’s destruction of man can go and how far cruelty can go. This is what I can say of those peoples who claim to be serving God but are unforgiving. Being unforgiving leads to war or killings and destruction of such properties as we see on the pages of newspapers as well as the TV screens; pictures of bodies on stretchers being anxiously moved towards the ambulances in those troubled regions of Syria. And where there are no ambulances the bodies would be moved by private vehicles or left to die.

Such spectacles give the media enough news to report and publish as long as they did not come from their own region. On the other hand, such images disturb not only the world leaders but those living around the troubled areas. No tourist would risk travelling to such region. Such images are equally pleasing to the manufacturers of weapons of death as long as the images of those on stretchers did not come from the regions around them.

The world is filled with nuclear arsenals and unforgiving hatred, particularly on the part of those who think they are in a position to dictate to God and change God’s commandment that says, “Thou shall not kill,” to “Kill others while committing suicide and be martyred.” There are the smaller, pitiless fanatics who believe that unless you belong to their sect you are an infidel. Taking of life does not mean anything to them because of the promise and indoctrination they have been given that they would be martyred and given seven virgins if they killed themselves while killing those they believe are infidels. This is wrong indoctrination because they will end up in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death. For women who engage in such practice, what would they be given? Seven men?

God, in His attempt to show man the way, gave humanity, through Moses on Mount Sinai, the Ten Commandments. This is God’s moral law to humankind as a whole. The constitutions of all countries of the world embody these commandments; whether these countries are religious or not.

Pope John Paul II as champion of Human Rights said that violence is evil. He added that violence was unacceptable as a solution to problems and that violence was unworthy of man. Geoffrey Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales put it this way that the outcome of violence is uncertain. He added that there is honour in peaceful settlement. Pope John Paul II’s qualification of violence did not just stop at that. He said that violence was a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith and the truth of our humanity. One can achieve a lot through peaceful protest or negotiations.

Bearing in mind that those who took up arms take orders and instructions from their superiors it is possible to call a truce. If they do not take action to stop their subordinates from such killings and destructions of public properties they will end up in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. If these killings and destruction of public buildings and properties are as a result of wrong indoctrination, it is time for the person or persons wrongly indoctrinating others to tell them to stop because the person or persons will earn worse punishment than those who engage in such habits.

Syria should be thinking in terms of achieving greatness in the fields of tourism, manufacture, education, medicine and other disciplines. I believe that Syria can do this to the amazement of the whole world to the shame of those who wish that the conflict continues indefinitely. Thereafter begin to rebuild their country.

Syrians it is time to learn to love one another as God commands. Do not allow the devil to deceive you in to killing one another. Killing and destruction of properties and in particular any place set apart for the worship of the Creator is not of God and the punishment for it from God is great.

I had written this piece of information underneath before President Obama’s press conference on this matter and it was also confirmed on the news. {The United States of America and United Kingdom must not fall by the tricks that Chemical weapon had been used by the Assad regime in Syria and go to war or supply the rebels with weapons. This had been stage-managed in order to draw them into the war or get them to supply MILITARY HARDWARES to the rebels who will in the end use these wares against USA and UK. The war could end without USA and UK getting involved militarily.}

Emmanuel Opiah writing in London

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