By Farweez Imamudeen –
On the 21st of Sunday a few men bearing Muslim names strolled into churches and hotels carrying heavy backpacks. While men, women and children were celebrating the resurrection of the Christ, immersed in prayer and divine contemplation, the suicide bombers shattered their peace and bodies with a savage blast; while unsuspecting guests walked in with their families and friends into the hotel cafeteria for breakfast the suicide bombers served them with a deadly scoop of death. To describe this horrendous act as barbaric is an understatement, for human beings cannot comprehend such acts of insane cruelty. The butchers did all this under the guise of Islam.
The world now asks me to take responsibility as a fellow Muslim for the horrible attacks.
But here’s why I can’t take responsibility as a Muslim.
1. The terrorist follows the religion of terrorism. Thus he belongs to the community of terrorists. If anyone needs to apologize for this inhumane onslaught it is the terrorist.
2. The bloody barbaric assault was not only on my Christian brethren or my other fellow brethren in humanity, but on the whole mankind. Therefore, I shall not indulge the terrorist and exclude myself from humanity and stay beyond the dividing line of race, religion and nationalism, apologizing as an outsider. But I shall stand within the circle of humanity, in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones and grieve, feel and mourn together with them; and I shall fight too, together with them to kill this ruthless monster of terrorism.
3. Radical fundamentalism is not a religion; it is a mindset. A radical fundamentalist views the world through a binary lens where the righteous are they and everyone else is misguided. Radical fundamentalists are intolerant ignoramuses who believe in a pre-defined truth and refuse to question it. As a result they do not believe in democratic means like freedom of thought; freedom of choice; and freedom of expression but oppressive means like imposition, coercion and violence.
I’m neither a terrorist nor a radical fundamentalist; therefore I cannot take responsibility as a Muslim.
Here’s why I take responsibility as a Muslim
1. The terrorist exploits the mass ignorance about Islam and history, and uses populist and simplistic means to persuade the world of his Muslimness. Hence he grows a beard, or adorns a turban, or wears a pathan or jubba suit, or shouts Arabic slogans from the Qur’an like ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Jihad’, or bears an Arabic name, or merely calls himself a Muslim; the world too now calls him a Muslim based on what is visible on the surface. The burden therefore, is on me to unveil the truth hidden beyond the surface.
2. The terrorist claims to follow the teachings of my religion, while blatantly refuting them in practice; but since the world is prone to judge an entire society by the actions of a few individuals the terrorists win the day. But please let me show you what you might not know:
The terrorist attacks and demolishes a church, yet the Qur’an denounces this violence:
“And were it not that God checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of God is much mentioned.” (Sura Hajj – 22: 40)
The terrorist kills more than 300 unarmed and unsuspecting innocent men, women and children, yet the Qur’an calls this a crime against humanity:
“Whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.” (Sura Maida – 5:32)
“Kill not the life which God hath made sacred, except by legal right” (Sura Al-An’am 6:151)
The terrorist wants to annihilate the disbelievers while the Qur’an lays out the principle of universal brotherhood and human interaction:
“O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct” (Sura Al-Hujurat- 49:13)
The terrorist resorts to barbarism and violence while the Qur’an promotes freedom of choice:
“There is absolutely no compulsion in religion” (Sura Baqara 2:256)
I believe in love, mercy and compassion; I believe in diversity, equality and humanity; I believe in brotherhood, democracy and freedom; I believe in Islam.
I take responsibility for letting the terrorist twist the truth and delude the world.
But I take responsibility as a human too.
While I was debating about who would win the IPL finals, what would happen in the next Avengers movie, and how fabulous Priyanka Chopra looked in her wedding dress; the terrorist was grooming.
While I was determined to be the first to get my hands on the next i phone, to have a bigger and more glamorous wedding than my friend’s, to spend my next salary on upscaling my expensive car; the terrorist was growing.
While I remained ignorant about what’s happening around me; while I was racing to reach the pinnacle first, intoxicated by the passion for wealth and prestige; while I sat back and relaxed, trusting the white attired men to look after my country; the terrorist destroyed our world.