I am a British Muslim and Imam based in London. I feel personally attacked by the brutal killing of this innocent person. My heart goes out to the family who has lost a loved one in such a tragic way. I extend to them my condolences and prayers. I am deeply sorry that Muslims have subjected you to this cruelty and pain. They have tarnished the entire faith and its followers.
I believe that everyone knows the Muslim community is not responsible for the actions of these two individuals. The attack was an attack on all of us – Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They do not represent anyone but themselves. I pray you will have strong enough faith in the Muslim community for us to stand together against all sorts of hatred and violence.
The two killers are nothing more than criminals. In their twisted logic, they thought that murdering innocent people is justified and part of their mission. It has been reported that they pronounced the name of God – “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater!) during the attack. This is a sacred phrase to be used only for affirming one’s faith in God; they have desecrated the phrase.
There is no God in murder and no God would ever want anyone to perpetrate murder in His name. They have violated the Quranic teaching that, ‘taking the life of one innocent person is like taking the lives of the whole of humanity’. The God I believe in does not condone violence. Protecting life, property, intellect, family and faith of every human being is the raison d’être of Islam. It is categorical in its condemnation of such acts.
I know there are many questions that are being asked. What led the killers to commit such a barbaric act? Do they have any links with any extremist preachers or organisations? What could have been done to prevent this from happening? Are the Muslim community taking steps to curb the tide of radicalization? Can Muslims ever be trusted? I am asking myself the same questions.
I am tired of defending Islam because of the actions of a few wild men. I don’t want people to feel suspicious of Muslims. I don’t want Muslims to be a cause of so much tension. I and many other teachers of Islam are working very hard to help angry young people understand that peace-making is the very heart of our faith. We clearly have much more to do.
But we need the wider community to understand the root-causes of this anger, which inclines young people particularly, to be attracted to perverted interpretations of Islam.
The UK foreign policies play a part in the radicalization of young people. The real causes are many, but among them are broken homes and poor parenting, unemployment and poverty, discrimination at school or in the workplace, and mental health illness. Can we work together as a society to address these issues that Muslims suffer from disproportionately?
It is part of the extremists’ game-plan to provoke division between various communities in this country. The English Defence League (EDL) and the British National Party (BNP) in particular are spreading the message that Muslims want to take over and establish Shari’ah in the country. They want to pin the blame on Muslims for many of the hardships we are facing as a nation. Their existence depends on creating fear through lies and exaggerated threats. If we don’t counter their will to divide, with an even stronger will to unite, they will have their way.
The actions of two deluded men have again brought the various communities to doubt one other. Fear is the greatest enemy, and this can only be overcome by getting to know each other. Recently in Norway, at a time of tension between the native population and the Muslim community, an anti-racism organisation encouraged Muslims to invite indigenous Norwegians into their homes for a cup of tea. It took off – even the Norwegian Queen got involved! And a survey subsequently reported a drop in negative attitudes towards Muslims. I believe if we build neighbourly relationship with people who live around our neighbourhood and invest more time in befriending people of different faiths or nationalities, a lot of mistrust and suspicions would simply disappear.
There must be many other imaginative ways of reaching across the gap and helping everyone realize that there is much more that unites them than divides them.