Most modern religions are the result of claimed channeled material, which are thoughts believed to be outside a person's conscious mind, conveyed by a person who speaks for non-physical beings or spirits.
In the year 610 AD, the prophet Muhammad received a divine message from Allah to start a new religion. It would be called Islam.
A Muslim is an adherent to Islam. Sharia Law is the sacred law of Islam. Muslims believe Sharia is God's law. Sharia is derived from the divine revelations set forth in the Quran and by sayings of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad
Over the next 22 years, Muhammed spoke for the non-physical being called Allah and the Muslim empire overtook the Arabian Peninsula. After Muhammed's death, the Muslim empire continued to expand into Africa and Europe over the centuries.
The Taliban is an Islamic political movement in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere that believes in strict enforcement of Sharia Law. For example, women are forced to wear the burga in public, not allowed to be educated, not allowed to work and not allowed to be treated by male doctors, unless accompanied by a male chaperon. Women face public flogging or execution for violation of Taliban laws.
On April 13, 2009, two young lovers, ages 21 and 19, attempting to elope were shot to death by a firing squad during a public execution outside a mosque in southern Afghanistan. They had fled their village, planning to start a new life together. The Taliban put the young couple on trial for crimes against Islam and executed them shortly thereafter.
"It was a very bad thing for these people to escape from their homes without permission and it is right that they should be punished according to Sharia law," explained Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, spokesman for the Taliban.
On August 6, 2010, 10 members of a humanitarian medical team traveling in Badakhshan Province in northern Afghanistan were brutally murdered by the Taliban. The team included 6 Americans, 2 Afghans, a German and a Briton. Three of them were women.
Among the bullet-riddled bodies was team leader Tom Little, an optometrist from New York, who had been living in Afghanistan for 30 years, supervising a network of eye clinics around the country, funded by private donations, and providing humanitarian medical services to Afghans in remote villages.
They were killed because they "were spying for the Americans and preaching Christianity," according to Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban.
Welcome to Afghanistan -- a disorganized, corrupt country of scattered, self-righteous rednecks with AK-47s.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is another Mecca of self-righteous fanatics. The Supreme Leader of Iran is Grand Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamanenei. An Ayatollah is the same rank in the religion of Islam as a Bishop or Cardinal in Christianity. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls intelligence and security operations, and has the sole power to declare war or peace.
The President is the highest state authority. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians in order to ensure allegiance to the ideals of the Islam.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a 43-year-old mother of two named Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is in jail, awaiting to be stoned to death for having an "illicit" relationship. She has already received 99 lashes for the crime of "adultery while being married." In addition, 12 other women await execution by stoning.
Of course, Islamic extremism isn't the only example of vile acts perpetrated upon humanity by a religion.
The Roman Catholic Church, another religious organization that was created primarily based upon claimed channeled material of a non-physical being, went through an extended period called The Inquisition. This heinous practice spanned many centuries, including the Medieval Inquisition (1184-1230), the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), the Portuguese Inquisition (1536-1821) and the Roman Inquisition (1542-1860). Many thousands of those found guilty of disobeying church edicts, called heretics, were systematically imprisoned, tortured or burned at the stake.
In ancient Mesoamerican civilizations (Aztec, Toltec, Mayan, Inca, etc.), human sacrifice was part of their religious culture. By sacrificing the life of a human being to one of their non-physical spirit beings, it allowed life to continue. The more important the request of the non-physical spirit being, the more thorough or plentiful the human sacrifice.
It is astonishing how far some people will go to please or "obey" their non-physical spirit masters. I know a couple who believe that if you are not a member of their specific denomination of their specific religion, you will for certain spend the remainder of eternity in hell. But if you are one of their narrow flock, you will spend eternity in a heavenly place.
Unfortunately, too many people worship the messenger and disregard the message. Perhaps instead of swearing obedience to non-physical spirit beings, it would be wiser to simply treat others as you wish to be treated -- with respect, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness and love.
While burning heretics at the stake and sacrificing virgins has disappeared from the scene, certain Islamic extremists continue to retain the personal obligation to kill any human being who does not follow the commandments of their non-physical spirit being.
Over the years, many Muslims gradually adapted to the Western ways, but others yearned for the rigid laws of the Quran. Hassan Al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1920s, predecessor to modern day Hamas and Al Qaeda, which reverted back to the strict teachings of Muhammad. The radicals felt Allah was angry with Muslims for straying from their true religious path. They perceived the Western influence to be a prison of the true believers, a punishment by Allah for betraying their religion.
The Muslim Brotherhood soon formed armed cells that attacked the "secular" government and its supporters. Today, this organization has hundreds of branches in over 70 countries worldwide. In the 1950s and 1960s, Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood invoked Jihad, a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty. Their goal is to create a worldwide Islamic paradise, eliminating every "non-believer" as their means to an end.
"The very purpose of this movement is to set human beings free from the yoke of human enslavement and make them serve the One and Only God." Sayyid Quth (Muslim Brotherhood).
However, slaughtering people in order to create a paradise is sort of like humping for virginity.
Today, innocent people are in a war not of their choosing. Islamic extremists are attempting to exterminate anyone who does not adhere to their self-righteous interpretation of ancient channeled material, including beheading innocent news reporters and aid workers in 2014, and posting videos of the beheadings on social media to make their point.
Studies by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, Ph.D., reveal that about four percent of the population has a sociopathic personality disorder.
In other words, one out of every 25 people is a potential psychopath -- a person with no sense of concern for the well-being of others and no feelings of remorse, regardless of what sort of harmful or immoral action they undertake. A psychopath is able to lie, steal, cheat and kill with no feelings of sorrow or regret. Sometimes their only motive is the thrill of inflicting pain.
The population of Planet Earth is approaching 7 billion. If 4 percent the earthly humans are psychopaths, then there are 280 million psychopaths walking among us. And some of them enjoy perpetrating their evil for all to see.
The slaughter of non-believers by Islamic extremists is an ugly reality. Perhaps they are simply psychopaths who have gathered with other psychopaths in a global Death Cult. Perhaps the religious affiliation is simply an excuse to inflict evil acts onto others to satisfy their psychopathic passion.
Life is never perfect and always perfect -- both at the same time.
Our mission in life is to discover the perfection of the imperfect world in which we find ourselves and to contribute to the goodness that struggles against evil.
It's an existence of joy and suffering meant to test individual righteousness and cleanse the soul.
Quote for the Day -- "There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war." Lao Tzu
Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and endeavors to carry out his mission in life.