Religion is not about making war

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Religion is not about making war

Adal Isaw

April 18, 2013


There is no political outfit for religion and no religious outfit for politics.  And hence, religion and politics should keep their distinct and separate outfits for their disparate purpose in life.  Because politics is the tool to approximate and organize better conditions of life and, religion is not. 


Religion does not dwell in approximation; it is absolute in its tenet and teaching to promote what ought to be.  This, I believe, is the foundation up on which the need to separate politics and religion is built.  And any effort to rebuild this foundation by inserting religious scripture into a political discourse of the 21st century, therefore is, a hangover from centuries old inebriation of medieval discourse. 


However, when a political opponent inserts a religious scripture, claiming an outcome in cases of national security concerns, such as the making of war, the temptation to cautiously use religious assertion to refute his claim arises.  This is the reason why the prophetic war that Al forebodes between Ethiopia and Egypt requires a cautious response to refute his foretell, hoping as well to imbue him with spiritual inkling for his betterment.

For reference, here is the quote in which Al forebodes a prophetic war between Ethiopia and Egypt: Meles’ legacy could indeed be a water war of death and destruction on the Nile, but he will never have a cement monument built on the Nile to celebrate his life. Meles’ disciples would be wise to remember an old prophesy as they march headlong to build their doomsday dam on the Nile: “God gave Noah the Rainbow Sign: No more water. The fire next time!”   Alemayehu G Mariam; March 11, 2013

This quote clearly embodies the psyche of a medieval political opponent, who uses religious scripture to make his point.  And Al is best at being one at least in this case.  But Al nevertheless fails to do his homework—to see if there is anything in the religious scripture that refutes his prediction and that which gives Ethiopia and the rest of nations in the world a prolonged life of peace, love and prosperity.  In other words, Al might have politically ignored the part in the religious scripture that contradicts his prediction of a prophetic war of doomsday on Ethiopia.  

I believe; no higher authority of any religion asks his follower to sacrifice his country for a political reason.  Instead, I think, a religious authority asks his follower to sacrifice his soul—for peace to supplant war and for love to supplant hate.  In addition, the least that a higher authority expects from his follower is to love his kind, knowing that hurt at times is on its way to inflict misgiving in his life.  For this reason, I still have not given up hope that Al, the follower, may one day find the spiritual message of what his religious scripture tries to teach him—love and peace; not hate and war.

In contrast to Al, obviously therefore, I do not see religion as a tool to be used to prescribe anger, hate, politics and war between people of different states.  If any, people who see religion as a tool to be used for all destructive ends have failed to garner the core messages of love and peace from their respective religious scriptures. 

Strictly speaking, there is no religion of hate, politics, war, and insertions of the language of “fire,” “war,” and “killing,” in any religious scriptures, I believe, are not there to initiate us to do harm; to hate, to want war and to engage in dirty politics.  Instead, they are there for us to weight what the negative and destructive alternative is—just in case if we ever fail to choose peace over war and supplant hate with love.  

Yearning to supplant hate with love and war with peace in all cases involving the Nile River is therefore for the good of Ethiopia, Egypt and the rest of the world.  No religious scripture foretells war between Ethiopia and Egypt.  In fact, all religious scriptures inspire Ethiopia, Egypt and the rest of the states of the world to avoid war for peace and to choose life over death, and, to practice love over hate. 

It is worth repeating; religion is about what ought to be for the good of each and every life.  And for this reason, religion teaches and inspires in absolute terms to promote peace, love, and respect to the goodness of all.  Religion is not about making war; because religion is not classical political realism.  Instead, religion is anti-war and everything good and constructive.  And no wonder the religious scripture that Al used to promote a prophetic war of his own making has the following verses to promote peace.

I writhe in pain…I cannot keep silent…for I hear…the alarm of war (Jeremiah 4:19); too long have I lived among those who hate peace.  I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war (Psalms 120:6); the unfaithful have a craving for violence (Proverbs 13:2); turn from evil; do good seek peace and pursue it (Psalms 34:14).[1]

Today war has become the most unlikely option sought by any state.  And this fact is still valid and, I strongly believe that neither Ethiopia nor Egypt seek war to resolve issues concerning the equitable use of the Nile River.  If any, Ethiopia and Egypt, alongside of the international community are for peace and development, and, in their endeavor to attain peace and development, they are likely to accept the biblical prophecy that nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks…and neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).  And it is for this precise reason that religion is not about making war.

To readers of my articles: I am so sorry for keeping you this long.  I had a plan to write Part II of my reply on all issues that Al raised in his hateful article.  But I find it awkward to mash his poorly summarized prophetic analysis with serious issues of making war in the 21st century.  In our globalized home, it is unlikely for states to go to war with other states.  This is not my own fact, but it is the fact that experts of international relation assert consistently.  In addition, the question of fairness and equitable use of the Nile River is tied with many issues of international political economy.  And for this reason, I would rather write extensively on issues of international political economy than writing to reply to Al’s hateful and diffusive articles.  I think, to reply to Al at times is to give him credit.  And I should learn not to do that and, learn to write on issues that really matter for the development of our beloved country—Ethiopia.

[1] See verses that call for peace from Youth Peace Resources at