As we make a sigh or relief for the capture of the Boston marathon bombing perpetrators we pray for all the victims of this senseless bloodshed and reflect on these sad events.
Now since we have come to know that the individuals involved in this incident have Muslim roots, we know that the Muslim faith will be accused by some people and Muslims them selves will be grappling why?
We have no control over the actions of those who commit acts of brutality and terror in the name of God but we are ready to confront the ideology of terror. Even if the Muslims had the equivalent of a Pope like figure who could speak and direct all the affairs of their faith, the individual behavior and attitude is almost impossible to control and regulate. Despite the equal opportunities open to all in our nation, we still have various groups and individuals who indulge in acts of violence and hatred from time to time.
There are a some realities that we have to acknowledge. American Muslims as part of the fabric of America feel shocked whenever merciless killings of innocent human beings are committed by anyone in our nation. But our shock increases when we realize that the perpetrators are Muslims. We do not understand the reasons for their behavior especially when our scriptures are clear on the issue. Every human being deserves a dignified existence is the message of God as we read in the Quran, “.. We decreed to the Children of Israel that if anyone kills a person – unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land – it is as if he kills all mankind, while if any saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind. Our messengers came to them with clear signs, but many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.” (Quran 5:32) Why any individual or a group would violate this basic Quranic message and commit acts of violence against innocent people is incomprehensible. For a person of any religion it cannot be faith in God that provokes this type of action. The challenge of our time is to understand what drives people to commit such acts of horror.
In the case of the Boston bombers, one possible reason is the influence they may have acquired from some individuals or groups that promote a distorted understanding of the message of God while ignoring the sanctity of life that is divinely ordained. They manipulate the verses of the Quran to suit their cultural, ethnic and political agenda. We must be clear about the universal condemnation of such acts in our scriptures and we should not let any such distortion influence our behavior and analysis of events. American Muslims and Muslims around the world have spoken loudly that they do not associate with these distortions and they do not tolerate anyone with these tendencies to mislead them.
Needless to say some groups and individulas have tried to misuse the Quranic message to serve their interests. They have often exploited the young and vulnerable minds with their slant and presented that as the only understanding of the Quran. It is certainly the responsibility of Muslims to challenge these distortions.
We also need to look at other factors that can contribute to these kinds of acts. One such factor is the impact of violence that is often displayed in our world on a daily basis. Violence is glorified and presented as the only means to resolve a conflict. This tendency is evident in the actions of state and organized groups. Young and vulnerable minds are impacted with this culture of violence and when confronted with a conflict, they tend to behave in a way as they have been influenced by various popular media.
None of us can claim that only a certain religious group is responsible for different incidents of terror around the world. Those who defy the logic and message of their faiths are found in all traditions. Yet, we can all come together to defeat their logic and evil. But this will happen when the claim of each one of us is that we care for human life and dignity and interests of our nation and people around the world. We know that the fight against violence and terror is a common cause and in its eradication, people from different religions and communities are together.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the weekly Muslim Observer and director of the Islamic Society of Nevada.