Q-- Eight years after the U.S. attacked Afghanistan, fighting continues. Religious extremists in the Taliban and al-Qaeda retain significant power there. What is our moral responsibility to the people of Afghanistan? If religion is part of the problem there, how can it be part of the solution?
We are our Brother’s Keeper
This question was asked of all three faiths at their very inceptions: Are you your brother’s keeper? All three faiths have always and instinctively answered “yes.” But let us remember that keeping one’s brother safe from harm is a proactive endeavor. We must put faith in action as our brother’s keepers with structured, well funded, non-interventionist humanitarian aid.
The very fact that steadfast religious commitment contributes to the violence in Afghanistan makes it our best hope for peace there. Afghanistan is a Muslim country, guided by mandates which, at their core closely resemble those of its fellow Abrahamic faiths: Judaism and Christianity. What is required of the brother’s of Islam in this situation is active intervention, but in the Abrahamic tradition of humility and humanity. We must show a desire to understand and a willingness to respect what is good in Islam while also acknowledging our own violence and foolishness in the name of religious freedom.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam were all born in the same moment when Abraham and his son, be he Isaac or Ishmael, were called upon to act in humility and humanity to fulfill God’s commandment. It is important to note, however, that what was required of Abraham was proactive involvement. What was required of his son was faithful fulfillment of his role in God’s plan. Abraham, obedient and steadfast is his commitment to God, spoke words of faith to his son. He took courage from God’s faith in his ability to fulfill the commandment. His son was concerned for Abraham’s feelings even as he prostrated himself in an act of humility and faith. So are we three faiths conceived in that moment of testing, called on to be humble, to be thoughtful, to be generous and to be faithful to the last. We are our brother’s keepers, bound to one another in the binding of Isaac.