“The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”
– Genghis Khan.
What Genghis Khan, the 13th Century nomadic Mongol warrior and founder of the Mongol Empire, intended to do to the wives and daughters of his enemies, after gathering them into his bosom, is anyone’s guess.
But perhaps there is no need for us to venture a guess; for apart from the historical accounts that document the mass genocide carried out by the Mongols under Genghis Khan’s leadership, of all those opponents who offered any resistance to his expansionist agenda, a genetic study entitled ‘The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols’ published in the ‘American Journal of Human Genetics’ in 2003, had also revealed, that close to about 16 million of the world’s male population (at the time when this study was conducted) based in the regions that once comprised of the former Mongol empire, carried with them a nearly identical Y-chromosome lineage which originated in Mongolia about 1000 years ago.
The geneticists who conducted this study were confident enough to reach the following conclusion as regards this Y-chromosome lineage in the abstract of their study.
“The lineage is carried by likely male-line descendants of Genghis Khan, and we therefore propose that it has spread by a novel form of social selection resulting from their behavior.”
The above linked genetic study offers no observation as to what exactly was the nature of “…their behaviour”. But the findings of this study were enough to influence one Hillary Mayell, to publish an article dated 14th February 2003 entitled “Genghis Khan a Prolific Lover, DNA Data Implies” which is still accessible on the National Geographic news website.
Whether the nature of Genghis Khan’s ‘prolific lovemaking’ was consensual or not, is something no one can affirm with certainty. But I don’t believe I would be overreaching if I were to state that no reasonable wife or daughter, even from the 13th century would have been keen on engaging in consensual lovemaking with a man or men who have destroyed their husbands, fathers and other male relatives before their very eyes.
One could, I suppose, make a case for not judging Genghis Khan’s alleged sexual atrocities of the 13th Century, through the prism of 21st Century moral values. He couldn’t have known any better, one may say. He was after all a nomadic tribesman; a barbarian driven by his desire to establish the supremacy of his tribe, by vanquishing and stamping out everything and everyone who stood in his path. Women of the other tribes, in his eyes, were nothing but chattel and spoil of war; objects that he and his tribesmen could exploit for their dishonorable motives. And last but not the least; he didn’t even possess the supposed ‘religion induced moral values’ to enable him to distinguish between right and wrong. In short, Genghis Khan was probably an unrestrained sociopath, when being an unrestrained sociopath was probably the norm.
However, Genghis Khan is ancient history now. History that is fortunately devoid of any religious significance and therefore allows us the luxury of dissecting his atrocities and cordially agreeing that Genghis Khan was probably an unrestrained sociopath who may have possibly, also been a rapist!
But what of those other wartime sexual atrocities of yore, which were justified in the name of religion? Must they also ‘not’ be judged through the prism of 21st Century moral values? For even though moral values may have evolved over the centuries, the cold truth is that certain controversial religious values have not; at least not in reference to certain codified religions anyway.
Of course the devout believers of these codified religions would argue that the values inherent in their belief systems are eternal and therefore cannot possibly conflict with any standard of morality, Period.
Well, they are entitled to advance this argument. But I would beg to differ; for can one really deny the existence of; or accept the rationale behind, all those existing religious justifications for the sexual enslavement of captives in times of war?
I don’t wish to discuss the specifics of these religious justifications that I speak of; for I would run the risk of transgressing the ‘reasonable restrictions’ placed on my Indian Fundamental Right to ‘Freedom’ of Speech and Expression, if I choose to do this. But suffice it to say that these very religious justifications have been conveniently used by mortals over the centuries, as an excuse to justify their sexual misconduct in times of war.
Fortunately for the sake of humanity, the evolution of moral humanistic values and ideals have contributed towards the establishment of International conventions against sexual slavery and war time rape, like Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949 for example, which explicitly prohibits wartime rape and enforced prostitution; with these prohibitions further reinforced by the 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
However the existence of International treaties like the Geneva Convention of 1949 and other anti-slavery Conventions haven’t necessarily proved to be a deterrent to the commission of sexual crimes during times of war; although the one advantage of having such conventions in place, I suppose, is that they have at least provided a semblance of some acceptable International protocol that one may reasonably expect to be adhered to, by warring armies of all cultures and civilizations in the 21st Century.
But perhaps I’m being rather naïve when I say this; for can a man-made convention really trump the misperceived god given right of a depraved and sadistic terrorist to engage in rape and sexual enslavement? Because even now, as I am typing these words, and as you, the reader are reading what I have typed, it is quite conceivable that some ruthless terrorist member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also known as the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”) may be engaging in the rape of a sexually enslaved Yazidi, Christian or Shia female in Syria.
I apologize if the reader finds this to be a grotesque visualization. But we may as well acknowledge the existence of this harsh reality; for when one reads reports, relating to the horrific rapes and sexual slavery that these supposedly ‘unbelieving’ women and young girls (some as young as 8 ) are being subjected to, at the hands of these supposedly ‘believing’ ISIS jihadists; one cannot help but wonder if human civilization has indeed regressed to the Stone Ages.
Now I certainly don’t wish to single out any religion. But this article seeks to discuss the impunity with which the ISIS jihadists have been committing their atrocities; and the ISIS jihadists it seems, often justify their violence and atrocities by claiming to follow the teachings of Islam.
Perhaps the jihadist members of ISIS are interpreting Islam incorrectly. I am no authority to confirm or deny this. I am not a scholar of any religion. But it is not difficult to understand why many individuals would feel no hesitation in readily accepting (consciously or unconsciously) as accurate, a supposedly radical and extremist interpretation of a religious text, so that they can remain under the illusion that they are living a ‘moral’ and ‘guilt free’ life, despite their sociopathic and destructive dispositions.
There is of course no denying that human beings are capable of committing similar horrendous acts, with or without the psychological support of their religious beliefs, as a form of justification (As we know in the case of Genghis Khan). But the power and influence that a radical religious belief wields over a brainwashed and indoctrinated mind is not to be underestimated.
How else can one explain the influx of radicalized young Muslim men and women from different parts of the globe into Syria? The dream of establishing a grand Islamic Caliphate in line with a Wahhabi and Salafist interpretation of Islam, pursuant to a violent and destructive jihad has struck an alluring chord with many young, impressionable and Genghis Khan-like sociopathic, Muslim minds from different parts of the world, many of whom belong to first world countries in Europe and North America.
Of late, even India’s Muslims have not been spared the impact of this ISIS propaganda, it would appear. Recent reports relating to the National Investigation Agency’s arrests and detention of highly educated and technology savvy Indian Muslim youth inspired by the destructive ISIS ideology, are indicative of how easily a totalitarian ideology of establishing the ‘Promised Islamic Land’ can seep through and resonate with the mind of even an educated or learned person, who has no reason whatsoever to give up the productive life that he is leading; and choose or aspire instead to become a Homicidal Rapist maniac in someone else’s war on a different continent.
But from an Indian perspective, there are more than a few tough questions that would also have to be asked of those successive governments in our country that have allowed intolerance among the Muslim minority in India to prevail, by conveniently sidestepping their secular beliefs and turning a blind eye to controversial views and ideas that have been allowed to be propagated or expressed by ultra conservative Indian Islamic preachers, in the name of Minority appeasement, much to the peril of India’s wellbeing as a diverse and constitutionally ‘secular’ nation state.
The reluctance of successive Indian governments to address extremism among Indian Muslims, can in my opinion, be attributed to a hesitation that the same would be perceived as an attempt of the Government to meddle in the religious affairs of the Indian Muslim community; without realizing that going soft on ultra-extremist elements would result in the creation of an environment that would prove to be conducive to the efforts of groups like ISIS to attract the attention of impressionable Muslim minds in India.
A case in point would be the arguably extreme views of Dr. Zakir Naik, the famous (Saudi Arabian Validated! ) Muslim tele-evangelist in India; whose religious views are likely to, in my opinion, also make a lot of secular, tolerant and liberal Indian people extremely uncomfortable.
An example of these views can be seen in a video in which Dr. Zakir Naik has no hesitation whatsoever in affirming a belief that it is acceptable for a Muslim man to engage in intercourse with a captive female slave, while further going on to offer an absurd justification for this repulsive idea, by somehow drawing a comparison with the way in which U.S.A. treats prisoners at its Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
I wonder how many people would be willing to acknowledge, that it is this very dangerous belief that Dr. Zakir Naik affirms in this video, which is also shared by the terrorist members of ISIS, who likely believe that the sexual violence they are engaging in with their captive slaves is a perfectly normal and acceptable behaviour.
I would like to make it clear that I am not even for a moment suggesting that the Government of India should in any way attempt to curb the Fundamental right of individual citizens to propagate and spread their faith. But there must, at the same time, be shown zero tolerance towards such dangerous ideas that would only make it easier for groups like ISIS to lure and recruit young men and women to further their nefarious goals.
However I also do not have any hesitation in acknowledging the fact that showing zero tolerance by imposing severe restrictions on extremist preachers who propagate dangerous ideas, is an approach that is not likely to yield any benefit in the long run. Primarily because in the age of internet connectivity and constantly evolving technology, extremists who wish to spew their venom will not have a shortage of non-censorable avenues available to them, on which they can spread their hate.
The only solution to counter this growing radicalization therefore, lies in promoting reformist ideas within Muslim communities. This will only be possible if the Moderates among Muslim Communities in India come forward and assertively thwart the extremist views prevalent among Muslim populations across the globe. But even this is a monumental challenge; for no sane individual would want to risk facing the wrath and possible isolation from the larger Muslim community in which fanaticism and extremism are now commonplace.
At the present moment however, the most pertinent question to be asked of people and Governments is whether ignoring this obvious and growing extremism among Muslims across the globe is something the world can afford to carry on doing?
One can only hope, I suppose that all those Governments and people who are concerned about the future of Humanity will put their heads together and think about how they are going to win this war. And I am not talking about the war in Syria. I am talking about a much larger war; I am talking about a propaganda war. A propaganda war against Islamic extremism; the outcome of which will decide what the future of our world is going to be