By Abdullah Sheriffdeen –
I’m a Muslim by religion. Australian by nationality. Sri Lankan by ethnicity. Human by nature.
The recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka that claimed over 350 precious innocent lives and injured many more did not only disrupt the period of peace that the country was experiencing. It has also caused irrevocable damage to peaceful faith communities for generations to come. These attacks also challenged the core values that many of us in this room hold dear to ourselves.
When I first heard about the news on Sunday, I received a shock that was imbued with a deep sense of heartache, sympathy and sadness. The majority of victims were those congregating on an auspicious religious occasion in their holy place. The other victims were almost exclusively composed of civilians, locals and tourists, who were either at work, or simply enjoying their breakfast on what was a beautiful sunny day. I, or any one of you, could have been one of those victims. The thought of being killed in either setting is one that would have never crossed our minds.
This barbaric act of terrorism resonates with a tragedy that occurred within my family history on the 3rd of August 1990. On that fateful day, 145 worshippers were massacred by the LTTE terrorists in two mosques in a small town called Kattankudy in the east of Sri Lanka. My grandfather, Mr Seyed Sheriffdeen, a dedicated teacher and community worker of many decades, along with his little 10-year-old son, were mercilessly gunned down whilst in communion with God at one of these mosques.
After 20 years since this event took place, I visited this mosque. I stood in the same corner of the mosque where my grandfather’s blood flowed, and I prayed, and still pray, that another human being should never be killed in cold blood. Mass massacres of this nature should NEVER be repeated again in history.
When my dad first heard about this Easter Sunday’s terrorist attack, he penned the following words:
Please do not insult me by asking if my family is safe. They are not safe. Each victim of this barbaric attack is a family member of my great human family. So, I’m also a direct victim of this atrocity. My family’s death toll exceeded 350 already. For what sin were they killed for by this cult, and for whose benefit?
So these terrorists have killed my father, my mother, my siblings, my grandparents and my own relatives. They have orphaned me, so I am speechless.
My initial sentiments of misery and grief slowly transformed into anger and disgust, once the identities of the perpetrators were revealed. These people outrightly betrayed the teachings of Islam, or any other faith for that matter, in doing what they did. They do not belong to any religion, other than the poisonous ideology of TERRORISM.
I cannot imagine how a human being can be capable of wreaking such havoc and carnage. One has to disassociate him- or her- self from the Divine given attribute of humanity in order to stoop down to such lowly levels.
It is also does not make sense how this murderous cult claimed that they were Muslims. The teachings of Islam are clear cut when it comes to killing innocent people. The Quran (5:32) is clear, in saying that killing a single innocent person is tantamount to killing the whole of humankind, with the converse applying for those who salvage a life.
Further, the Quran (60:8) elaborates on how the Muslim should “do good and deal justly” with those who do not fight against them on the basis of their religion. This very verse concludes in saying that God Almighty “loves those who maintain justice”.
The perpetrators of these attacks blatantly disobeyed the scriptures that they apparently abided by, and clearly defied their intrinsic role of being a moral human being. Like any other right-minded person, I, from the depths of my heart, condemn these attacks as an outrageous abomination on humanity. I extend my heartfelt condolences to those affected by the calamity, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, religious, non-religious, local, foreigner, alike. May we all remain calm and united in these pressing times, and allow peace and love to pervade and prevail. Thank you.