Define the terms (i) religion (ii) religious militant (iii) religious peace-maker (iv) religious extremist.
The terms religion, religious peacemaker, religious militant and religious extremist are frequently used in the religious discourse. In most cases, journalist and even some people from the academic field use these terms without adequate knowledge of the meaning of these terms. This may lead to abuse of these terms and misleading the readers. The essay seeks to give definitions of these terms.
The term religion is difficult if not impossible to define and any attempt to define the term is subjective to the definers’ background or motif. (Cox 2010). To a Christian, religion would be a belief in God, but the major problem would be that this definition would give an impression that Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and many other religions which do not ascribe themselves to God are not religious. Edward B Tylor, Religion is the belief in spiritual beings. A psychologist would define religion as a mental construct while a sociologist would define it as a social construct. Émile Durkeim(1912) defines religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them." Joseph Adler, suggests that religion is "the self-validation of a society by means of myth and ritual." Religion is a means of ultimate transformation and/or orientation." The differences in the definitions give us the a view that religion cannot be define from a single dimension. However, Ninian Smart highlights that though religion does not have an all- encompassing definition, we can come up with an understanding of religion. Smart comes up with seven dimensions that are common in all religions. These are myth, rituals, doctrines, ethics social dimension, experiential dimension and artistic dimension.
A religious militant is a religious actor who fights to preserve religious values that have been violated. The term militant comes from the 15th century Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier", and is related to the modern concept of the militia as a defensive organization against invaders ,the term has been associated with the use of violence. Mfuti(2012) defines an Islamic militant as a fundamentalist who defend Islam through violence. This means that the Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Alsabab in Somalia and AlQaeda of the late Osama bin Laden are all religious militant groups because they make use of terror and violence to defend Islam. (Good examples) Even the Western media call these groups “ religious militants” However, sometimes religious militants may not necessarily use physical violence, armed combat or terrorism but peaceful negotiations. Santa Egidio is another Catholic militant group which resolved the political crisis in Mozambique through peaceful means. Trotskyist Militant group in the United was active in labour disputes, moved resolutions in political meetings, but was not based on violence Sometimes Christian Church Militants are formed to struggle against sin, the devil or .the rulers of the darkness of this world.
Religious peacemakers are those individuals or organisations that get involved with conflict resolutions in order to bring peace. The United States Institute of Peace (2011) argues that peace making involves the process of negotiating an agreement between conflicting parties. Religious peace makers can be church leaders like Archbishop Desmond Tutu or organisations like Santa Egidio, the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice or the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe. Religious peace makers are committed to end a conflict from a religious point of view. Kriesberg (2003) conflict is an antagonistic relationship between two people or parties, an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources and interference from the other party in achieving their goals. What religious peace makers are aware of is that is that social and political conflict are invariably inevitable, normal and ubiquitous in all societies. Therefore the church can be a religious peace maker whose role is to bring back justice, peace, reconciliation and national healing among victims of violence.(Munemo and Nciizah,2014)
Religious extremists are those people or group of people who uphold religion to some extreme levels on religious matters. Religious extremist loses the human consciousness to the extent of sacrificing their lives or the lives of others for the sake of defending their religion. In some cases extremist are violent or are involved in actions that are suicidal. Krueger and Maleckova (2003) argue the link between religious extremism and terrorism seems obvious. To Krueger and Maleckova (2003), religious extremists are those willing to murder because they embrace theologies that sanction violence in the service of their deity. They have no sympathy for their victims and they are ready to sacrifice their own lives because they expect huge and immediate afterlife rewards in return for martyrdom and they view those who opposes their beliefs as enemies of their deity. In Islam, religious extremists go as far as committing suicide bombers in trying to defend their faith. Religious extremist can also be fundamentalist because are blinkered by some ideologies to such an extent that they do not use their common senses. In Islam, extremist groups include the ISIL( Islamic State of Syria and the Levant and ISIS(Islamic State of Iran and Syria ) (Good 5/6)
In conclusion the terms religion, religious militant, religious peacemaker and religious extremists are mostly used in the religious discourse. The time religion is ambiguous because any attempt to define this term is subjective to the definer’s background. The term religious militant refers to one who defends religion either by force or peaceful means. The term religious peacemaker is used to refer to a religious individual or an organisation the seeks to resolve a conflict in order to pave the way for peace. A religious extremist is one who goes to extreme levels in a religious context and loses human consciousness to the extent of sacrificing his/her life or the life of others for the sake of religion.