Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Najaf Shrine: Holy? Shmoly!
I’ve had it. I’ve just had it. For days now the media have been carrying on about the “Holy” shrine in Najaf where Al Sadr and his thugs are holed up. First, if they’re smart, they’re saying a prayer or two, since they’re going to need all the help they can get.
Next, the media has been going on about the damage to this shrine, indicating that much of the damage is the result of bombing and other military activities being carried out by the armed forces of the United States. So let me get this straight—this guy goes in there, hides with his thugs, and it’s OUR fault the building gets damaged? That’s just like it being OUR fault that innocent civilians died because Saddam intentionally put military equipment in residential areas.
What’s this business about calling the shrine “holy”? Perhaps at some point it was a sacred edifice, used by the faithful of that culture to worship according to their beliefs. I fully respect the religious beliefs of others. I respect that there are places, including mosques, temples, synagogues, churches, chapels, what have you, considered sacred to members and followers of various religions.
Buildings, of themselves, are not sacred. Bricks, wood and mortar are common in our world. What is sacred is the attitude of the person who enters the building, the activities performed within, and the effect that the attitude and activities have on that person. What is sacred is the worship, the communion with God, and the conversion of the soul. Inasmuch as these activities take place, I can consider a building “holy.”
I do not consider a building “holy” once it has been seized by lawless thugs and converted for use as a military fortress. At such a time, it becomes a tactical facility, and as such is subject to being destroyed along with its occupants.
If any religious building of my faith were seized or occupied by a group of terrorist miscreants or their likes, I would be first in line to tell the military commanders: “Level the place.” In the immortal words of Jay Leno, “Crunch all you want, we’ll make more.” The same goes for a place of worship. Granted, the sacred buildings constructed by my religion look a bit more sturdy than some of these shrines.
If it’s being used as a military fortress, use whatever force necessary to subdue the enemy. Then find some more bricks, wood and mortar, and build another one. The world will be far better off without the historic building, as long as those that desecrated the place are gone as well. Let them hide behind their religion. Then, let them face whatever consequences await them for their acts of heresy.