A Religious army vs. an army of Religion – ISIS
Its rather easy to conclude in haste, given my Indian origin, who or which army this article is aimed at. I’d like to clarify my being an atheist and that this article could be applied to any army, religious or not. I decided to do this piece following the crisis in Iraq and Syria at the hands of what seems to be an extremely well organised ideological militia driven by the idea of ‘fighting for God.’
So what is the difference between a ‘religious army’ and an ‘army of religion?’ The difference goes directly to the army’s actions and it’s perceived limits of brutality.
A religious army is a principled one, a God fearing one. While it is God fearing it is aware that sovereignty belongs to the state and is sacrosanct as such. Nothing trumps the state’s sovereignty which has to be protected while remaining principled and true to God. It understands that it is being paid and sustained by the very form of government it vows to protect and that it is a pool of volunteers dedicated to territorial protection.
An army of Religion on the other hand is one that is indoctrinated with the idea that they are ‘fighting for God.’ This makes an army lose its priorities. When you have an army indoctrinated with the idea that they are fighting for God, patriotism, the state, democracy, the Geneva convention go out the window. All that matters is the ‘will of God’ and no man made rule or mandate gets in the way. It’s now down to an individual’s foot soldier’s perception of the ‘will of God’ and this perception determines his or her level of brutality.
It’s one thing to not agree with a set of religious beliefs, but it is indeed sad to to see the ISIS militia tear down Shia mosques with absolutely no regard for feelings or the raw effort and money that went into building them. Had one been a little more objective, perhaps God fearing, this could have been avoided. I completely abhor the act of tearing down a religious building or using it as anything but a place of worship, but even if one has to disagree with the idea of a Shia Mosque, why tear it down? This is the drive of an ‘army of Religion.’
An army in specific and national defence on the whole, are institutions that best operate with a sense of mutual respect for both friend and adversary. For that mutual respect to exist the paramount priority of an army must and should be ‘the state’ not God.