Where Paris, Jihad and Humanity Collide

“I have no doubt that ignorance and faithlessness were the root causes of these violent acts…”

Dear Paris,

The crime that was committed against you was another senseless and heinous act caused by ignorance, greed and the love of power. My heart goes out to the victims and their families who are mourning the loss of innocent loved ones. I have seen what terror has done to Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Nigeria and Lebanon, and I wouldn’t wish the same for anyone else in this world regardless of their nationality or faith. Anyone could have been in that crowd – French, Muslims, Americans, Atheists, Catholics, Buddhists, agnostics. It doesn’t matter. A life is still a life.

As a Muslim, I have never been more confused about the role Muslims play in violence and terror in the context of the 21st Century. I am tired of trying to demonstrate that ISIS’ Ideology is not based on the Islamic faith that I have embraced and cherished all these years.

As a Muslim who has absolutely nothing to do with the acts of violence done by other Muslims I feel disparaged by those who continue to demand the need for collective Muslim guilt. Why must I feel ashamed of something I did not do or support? Why must another Muslim’s definition of Islam have a debilitating impact on my life?

However, with campaigns like #IWillRideWithYou in the aftermath of the Sydney attack this year (which was unrelated to ISIS but made by the perpetrator to seem that way due to mental illness) and tweets like the one below, I believe there are informed and rational people out there who will take a stand against bigots, racists and Islamophobes.

I have no doubt that ignorance and faithlessness were the root causes of these violent acts, for without them, I don’t think any Muslim in their right mind would agree and believe that the mass murder of innocents would guarantee an entry to Paradise. It goes against the basis of what Muhammad (pbuh) taught the Muslims about the sanctity of human life and the conditions of war, such as:

  1. The killing of innocent non-combatants is forbidden. According to Sunni tradition, ‘Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave these instructions to his armies: “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . . ” (Malik’s Muwatta’, “Kitab al-Jihad.”)
  2. Terrorism or hirabah is forbidden in Islamic law, which groups it with brigandage, highway robbery and extortion rackets– any illicit use of fear and coercion in public spaces for money or power. The principle of forbidding the spreading of terror in the land is based on the Qur’an (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:33–34).

Dear Paris,

What ISIS has done to you cannot be justified in any way. It hurts to see Islam being reduced into a faith that is associated with violence and vengeance. ISIS owes you the truth about the reality of who they are: a militant group with a political agenda appropriating Islam to justify their evil actions and distract you from the fact that they make USD 50 million a month from selling crude oil and earn millions more from drug trafficking while consuming meth themselves to “increase endurance and feelings on invincibility”. I fail to see the credibility of their claims of ‘jihad’ (religious struggle or so-called holy war) when they have an agenda and ideology sustained by things that are forbidden in Islam such as terrorism, drugs and the mistreatment of men and women.

Dear Paris,

I mourn and pray for you. But I also mourn for the loss of compassion, mercy and decency that is much needed around the world. I wonder, when will we see similar displays of international solidarity for the Lebanese victims of the twin bombings in Beirut just a day before the Paris attacks? What about the Rohingya facing displacement and persecution by their government simply because of their ethnicity and religion? The Syrians who are trying to escape ISIS themselves? Or the Palestinians who are being labelled as terrorists because many of them are desperate and tired of living under Israeli occupation and oppression? I know there is hope for humanity because of the way some nations like Germany have accepted Syrian refugees but the recent Paris attack will have repercussions. For example, Poland has already decided to stop accepting refugees.

Moving forward, we must continue breaking down barriers to knowledge and meaningful relationships between people who have more in common than they think. We need determined, educated, concerned and trained individuals who will build and drive institutions that will create pragmatic solutions to restore trust, hope and compassion and counter the systemic spread and continuance of ignorance, racism, discrimination and extremism in our families and communities.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” (Rumi)

We owe it to ourselves and the future generation who will inherit the world we live in. That change will begin with you and me. The last thing we should do is to allow ourselves to become paralysed by sadness, anger and fear. It’s time to get some serious work done, make better choices and overcome our naivety. It’s time to restore the humanity we have long lost.

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