In terrorists attacks, innocent lives are lost without any gain for those who perpetrate these unforgiving crimes against humanity, and above all against God.
Laws of God dictate that every human life deserves a dignified existence and protection from all acts of violence, yet the attackers invoking the name of God seem determined to take innocent lives at will and show their sickening happiness at every drop of blood they shed in the name of their so-called ideology.
As a Muslim who believes in the absolute power and wisdom of the divine for giving His guidance to humanity, I am horrified when I read that people who confess to be Muslim by name are involved in terrorist attacks. Surely such people do not understand what it means to submit to God to attain peace.
I feel outraged when I read that the killers used the name of Allah — the sustainer of the universe, the most gracious and the most merciful — for their nefarious acts. I feel enraged at their audacity to justify the killing for the injustices caused by others to their folks.
I would have felt the same rage and shame if the perpetrators were members of other religious communities. After all, the suffering of human beings cannot be divided on the basis of their religious identities, and tears cannot be selectively shed only for those who belong to my faith or my ethnicity. I cannot fulfill my covenant with God if I cry only for those who are like me and turn my face the other way when the victims are Jewish, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, atheists or belonging to any other faith.
I often wonder what I as an individual must do to stop these insane criminals from committing these acts. I have no way to communicate with them. Even if I get an opportunity to speak with them, I know they would not listen to me because they have not listened to God, who demands that life must be protected from all harm. They do not realize the basics of their professed faith: God is the creator of all life, He is the sustainer of each and every human, He does not discriminate among people in His mercy on the basis of their faith, He does not deny nourishment even to those who reject him, and He describes taking the life of one person as a crime against all humanity.
I speak against terrorism in places of worship when I am invited to give Friday sermons. I write extensively against terrorists, and I constantly remind my fellow Muslims that we must be in the forefront of our jihad against violence and terror and stand up for peace and justice. This is commanded by God when he says in the Quran:
“O You who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do!” (Quran 4:135)
I know that the people I speak with are absolutely against all forms of terrorism. I have not come across a single Muslim in my adult life who justifies violence because of the injustices perpetrated against Muslims anywhere in the world.
But I also realize that governments and political parties and leaders use acts of terrorism to serve their political interests. They too have an agenda that is often determined by their religion, ethnicity or political goals. They may claim that they care for human life, but when it is time to act decisively, they often show their blindness to the reality and demands of justice.
If we all had cared for human life and dignity, we would have not allowed millions of Jews to suffer during the World War II, millions of Muslims in Central Asia to die as a result of brutal communist policies, thousands of Bosnian men and women to be killed and raped, millions of Rwandans to be slaughtered mercilessly, thousands of Darfurians to be brutalized, millions of Palestinians to live in refugee camps, and millions of people in Iraq, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other places to live in miserable conditions.
We would have come together to show our determination to protect human life and human dignity. We would not have allowed hundreds of wars to be waged during the last century in the name of ethnicity, nationalism and cultural and economic superiority. We would not have extolled the virtues of our nation to put down others. We would not have adopted a policy of economic and cultural imperialism to subjugate people.
Don’t forget the fact that the rulers of Muslim countries are not absolved from this prevailing insensitivity to human dignity. Their brutality can match that of anyone else in the world. They have killed at will anyone who appears to challenge them. They have destroyed their own people because they were afraid of losing power. They have pitched one against another to serve their corrupt agenda.
I realize all this and often wonder what can be done to stop this menace and insanity. Speak, I will, write, I must, confront those who advocate violence, I shall, and use every opportunity to challenge terrorists, I do. But in a world where leaders and parties often use their self-serving agenda to define terrorism and the nature of the fight against violence and terror and injustice, I am left bewildered.
I know I am not alone. Almost everyone within the Muslim community whom I know thinks as I do, except those faceless and nameless, secret groups and individuals who refuse to listen to the divine call for respecting all human life. Yet we all find ourselves incapable of stopping this insanity. There are forces out there that we do not know, groups and individuals constantly plotting to hurt fellow humans. There are people waiting to pour more fuel on the fire, and countries keen to see wars and destruction.
The Muslim community needs partners in the fight against terror, in defense of human dignity and human life. We need people willing to stand up for the protection of every human life, regardless of its cultural, ethnic, nationalistic and religious origin.
There are many who say that they care for humanity as a whole. But where are they? Why do they speak only when someone like them is hurt? Where are their voices when human beings other than their own lose their dignity and life?
God describes himself as the guarantor of world peace to His creation. His guidance speaks to this clearly. But people acting on His behalf have done everything possible to destroy it. Can we Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and everyone else come together to stand for each of us and fight the menace jointly, rather than using religious or nationalistic labels to vent our anger and serve the political agenda of the power elite?
The Muslim community is waiting to hear a call of unity in action, in defense of all human life and dignity in any part of the world.
Aslam Abdullah is director of the Islamic Society of Nevada.