The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
Terrorism, in the most widely accepted contemporary usage of the term, is fundamentally and inherently political. It is also ineluctably about power: the pursuit of power, the acquisition of power, and the use of power to achieve political change. Terrorism is thus violence — or, equally important, the threat of violence — used and directed in pursuit of, or in service of, a political aim. With this vital point clearly illuminated, one can appreciate the significance of the additional definition of `terrorist’ provided by the OED: `Any one who attempts to further his views by a system of coercive intimidation’. This definition underscores clearly the other fundamental characteristic of terrorism: that it is a planned, calculated, and indeed systematic act. – Inside Terrorism, by Bruce Hoffman.
Terrorism of any kind destroys world peace and world order.
Terrorism is the epitome of man’s inhumanity to man. Terrorism is also the wanton taking of property and lives–of countrymen, countrywomen and countrychildren. It uses random violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political or religious purposes. Even open war, just or unjust imprisonment, and torture, hold out the hope of an end and a release—but that’s not true with terrorism.
Terrorism is rooted in every human being’s need to belong to a group of peers. In these times it has become ideologically acceptable to indiscriminately murder innocents to effect the terrorist’s goal: A social order based on their sole conception of what is right for them as right for all others, no exceptions. They require instant, exact and complete obedience to their orders and tenets, as verified by the actions of human suicide bombers. Between 1982 and January 2015, over 4,283 suicide attacks in 40 countries were documented, with untold pain and destruction the result.
Most of the terroristic acts we see today no longer fit the old saying “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Take for example Nazi Germany’s stance against resistance groups opposing Germany’s occupation of their lands, labeling them “terrorists.” Even guerilla warfare tactics of old did not condone that. Fighting for freedom, justice and equality is not the same as fighting for repression and subjugation.
The terrorist, like the egotist, somehow cannot consider the feelings or the life of others as important:
The man who thinks only of himself and is thoughtless of others….” “[He] … is undoubtedly inferior to the animal because the animal is not possessed of the reasoning faculty. The animal is excused; but in man there is reason, the faculty of justice, the faculty of mercifulness. Possessing all these faculties he must not leave them unused. He who is so hard-hearted as to think only of his own comfort, such an one will not be called man. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 42.
So far, the falsities of terroristic actions and ideologies have revealed themselves as obvious and self-defeating. It’s the recognized duty of good people and governments everywhere to expose their vapid philosophies and unsound justifications for killing innocents. The Baha’i teachings say that the spread of terrorism exposes one of the deepest flaws in the way humanity has ordered its affairs:
Flaws in the prevailing order are conspicuous in the inability of sovereign states organized as United Nations to exorcize the spectre of war, the threatened collapse of the international economic order, the spread of anarchy and terrorism, and the intense suffering which these and other afflictions are causing to increasing millions. – The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, p. 1.
Of course, governments also kill innocent people with bombs and missiles and drones. Baha’is believe that all such actions—whether under the guise of terrorism or government—must stop. As we’ve seen in the past, killing and death only produces more killing and death.
Instead, the Baha’i teachings say, we must adopt a genuine, universal framework that can regulate, contain and eventually stop the world’s violent terrorist outbursts. That framework calls for a new way of organizing the world based on justice and unity:
Acceptance of the oneness of mankind is the first fundamental prerequisite for reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Universal acceptance of this spiritual principle is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace. It should therefore be universally proclaimed, taught in schools, and constantly asserted in every nation as preparation for the organic change in the structure of society which it implies.
In the Baha’i view, recognition of the oneness of mankind “calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world — a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units.” – ibid, p. 4.