Counting the cost of modern conflict

The number of war deaths in the past hundred years have exceeded the total number of deaths caused by wars in two thousand years, scholar Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson explained at a forum.

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ABU DHABI // The number of war deaths in the past hundred years have exceeded the total number of deaths caused by wars in the previous 2,000 years, the scholar Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson explained at a forum last week.

Sheikh Yusuf Hanson, president of Zaytuna College, was a speaker at the Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies forum in the capital.

He first described the peaceful preaching method that Prophet Mohammed followed throughout his life and battles.

In a colourful graphic used to illustrate his point, Sheikh Yusuf Hanson showed the death toll in the past two thousand years.

“The Prophet Mohammed would hold ghazawat (battles) in peace. Ten of the battles only in the Prophet’s time had deaths [the total number of ghazawat (battles) was 19]. The number of soldiers dying in the battles in 23 years was 150. Today, this number is found daily. So when we compare the number of deaths in the Prophet’s time to this era, we are surprised,” he said.

“War deaths 1,900 years ago were 264 million. In the last one hundred years only, since 1906, the death rate caused by war is 314 million,” he said.

He said in certain wars of the decades, some wars would have a 50 per cent death rate. The weapons used today are extremely destructive and are different from the weapons found long ago, Sheikh Yusuf Hanson added.

“The weapons found today are different from the spears and catapults used in the times of battles before, these tools are very primitive compared to what humans have today. Technological advances have also created a unique and powerful tool,” he said.

He showed the audience images of destroyed monuments and cemeteries, and the groups who are now at war are destroying the cultural landmarks and symbols of a nation. He named them “ignorant” for removing the heritage and culture of societies.

“These are disasters in our nation, and the destroyers think they are doing great, they think they are implementing Allah’s laws. We must revise ourselves on the energy that has opened on our world,” he said.

“The Prophet Mohammed prohibited the destruction of infrastructure and buildings, so what about destroying human lives?”

aalkhoori@thenational.ae