History provides us with countless pieces of evidence regarding the fact that all religions follow more or less the same patterns and that their ‘life cycles’ are somewhat similar. Religion and warfare go side by side, no matter how much we convince ourselves that such is not the case. Be it as a result of God’s will or as a result of the will of those representing God, the roots of countless wars eventually go back to religion. This is not to imply that religion promotes warfare; this is just to state a fact which we conveniently like to ignore, perhaps because realizing it disturbs us.

The most common trend that can be seen is that a religion grows in power, gains followers and slowly starts becoming violent. Eventually, however, the violence ends up destroying what the religion initially was; from the ashes the phoenix rises and the cycle continues.

However, at present, we have reached a very interesting point in time. Islam, being the final Abrahamic religion, has crossed the initial stages of gaining followers and becoming strong. It is now at the point where the violence comes in. When this time passes, a more moderate version of Islam will emerge. However, the question that arises here is that which religion will take the place of Islam in the whole cycle of events?

Strong faith is something that is perhaps the most powerful weapon that humankind has. It can be used to destroy entire civilizations. It is blind faith in something that compels human beings to wage war on other human beings. The lure of heaven, the idea of being loved by God, the desire to be God’s favorite makes human beings indulge in activities they would never indulge in otherwise. Such is the power of religion, of blind faith.

Now, imagine that power falling into the hands of people who realize that this is a human weakness that can easily be exploited for their own benefits; Individuals who can easily manipulate hundreds of thousands of people, in the name of religion, to commit atrocities that no man in his right mind would commit. The consequences seem unimaginable and yet history is full of countless examples where certain individuals have used religion in order to attain their personal goals.

Every religious war that has ever been waged has eventually been linked to causes other than religion. The crusades, for example, took place in the name of religion, yet their causes range from economic to political to social factors. The expansion of the Ottoman Empire, done in the name of religion, was nothing but the desire for an empire to grow in power and size. The spread of Islam to the subcontinent didn’t take place to please God; it took place to please men who wished to become powerful and feared.

It should also be kept in mind that no expansion takes place peacefully. Muslims conveniently claim that Islamic expansion has been the most peaceful, that not one individual was killed during the conquest of Mecca. However, we fail to understand that the conquest of Mecca was only a part of the beginning of Islamic history. Between then and now, there is a vast stretch of time that is full of examples of how not all Islamic ‘conquests’ have been peaceful.

How can wars waged in the name of Islam, from that time till modern day, be ignored? How can the lives lost in protecting and expanding the Ottoman Empire be forgotten? How can we choose to ignore the violence that came with Islam when it was brought to the subcontinent? While we glorify the individuals who brought Islam to the subcontinent, we fail to acknowledge the fact that it was our ancestors who were ruthlessly murdered on their own land by individual who claimed to be bringing God’s message to the people of the subcontinent.

Of course, at present, the entire world is being affected by a religious war; the desire that has driven certain groups to terrorize the whole world in the name of religion. At this point, it is of paramount importance that we understand the immense need for a moderate version of Islam to be promoted. Islam, being the last Abrahamic Faith, should bring about an end to the violence that has gone alongside religion for centuries. Once this happens, Muslims all over the world will be right in saying that Islam is a religion of peace. At present, however, it only seems like history is repeating itself.