A Humble Obituary for Osama bin Laden; Part II

John’s obituary continued, which began here

I have mixed feelings regarding the death of bin Laden. He was my enemy whom I love. I cried while watching the President’s disclosure and the subsequent dancing in the streets.  It was not a cry of joy, but of sorrow and complexity.  Early today, I was reminded of a Bible verse: “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble” (Proverb 24:17).

I have spent major portions of my life battling against much of what bin Laden did and what he stood for.

Each summer for the last five years, I have lived in Al-Khalil (or Hebron in Hebrew), a major Arab and Muslim city in Palestine.  T-shirts with bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, while not popular, were available for purchase at the clothing market around the corner from my apartment.  When elections were last held in that city, the political party Hamas won the majority of the votes.

Both Hamas and Al-Qaeda share a common birth from the Islamic Revival of the 1970s, a movement promoting the idea that Islam is the answer for all of life’s issues, from dress to food to Sharia law.  The Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian movement, provided the foundational philosophy for both Al-Qaeda and Hamas.  The results of these movements include caring for the poor, providing a quality education for all, a more conservative approach to lifestyle, clothing, and marriage, a political system based on the Holy Scriptures, and militant Jihad, or Holy War, against the infidels.

Al-Khalil  is a place of great despair and war.  It has great poverty.  I watch often as the small children go to the local Muslim charity to gather soup for their families.  As a human rights worker there with Christian Peacemaker Teams, I often intervene when local Jewish settlers ransack their homes, when Israeli military detain their fathers, and when men in sheets attack them on their way to school.  And I am always lovingly invited to the local mosque by my barber Jamal.

One day, a young boy, maybe six years old, followed me through the marketplace as I returned home.  He said, “Do you have a father?  What is your father’s name?”  I responded, “My father’s name is Paul.”   After a continued conversation about our families, he would say, “We both have families.  We both have fathers and brothers and sisters.  Are you a Muslim?”  He knew I wasn’t.  “I would like you to come to the mosque with me and learn about God.  God is a good God that takes care of us.  Don’t you want to become a Muslim?”

If this sweet boy’s family is the average local family, they would have cast their vote for Hamas in the last election.  And if this child was from the section of town in which I live, there is a good chance that he and his family receive assistance from local Muslim charities.  There is a good chance that his relatives have been killed as a result of the ongoing war with the Israelis.

Al-Khalil, due to the social, economic and political circumstances, is a place where suicide bombers are created.  I don’t promote it; I understand it.  It is a result of the cries of the poor and oppressed.  The influences of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, while providing a great beginning for freedom, self-determination, and dignity, also mislead “the least of these” into bearing the sword.

I often think of this young boy.  I pray for his family and his community.  I pray that his people, like the Israelis on the other side of the Green Line, can have self-determination.  I dream of the day when all God’s children can live in both peace and prosperity.  This, I believe, is God’s plan from the dawn of creation.

I also pray that he can live in a democratic society where his civil rights and civil liberties are guaranteed.  While people like Osama bin Laden have brought great courage and respect to many Muslims seeking self-determination, they have brought along with it the subjugation of women, the denial of basic rights for political and religious dissidents,  and a very narrow view of what it means to have a Muslim society.  And to their detriment, they bring the idea that killing women and children is justified to put God’s plan into action.

Sounds like Herod the Great who killed all the infants after the birth of Jesus.  Sounds like the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

~ by Brian Shope on May 3, 2011.

3 Responses to “A Humble Obituary for Osama bin Laden; Part II”

  1. He was one of many people that make me proud to be an Atheist. Killing and willing to be killed, for book. What an incredible evil.

    • Much agreed. What a travesty that a way of life and faith in a ALlah, a God of peace, would turn into an ideology of death and destruction. Much like the crusades and the “mission” activity of the 16th-18th centuries of Roman Catholicism, I’m quite sure that Islam is not accurately represented by bin Laden’s lifestyle. Although I’m not ready to choose atheism for myself, it’s understandable that faith turned ideology of this sort contributes to ones belief that there is no God.

      Thanks for engaging…

  2. […] A Humble Obituary for Osama bin Laden; Part III John’s closing for bin Laden, which began here and here… […]

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