As-Salāmu ‘Alaykum / Peace be upon you!
At a time when we celebrate the birthday of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his blessed progeny) in Rabi ul awwal 1442 AH, we are once again in shock , in grief and distress at the killing of innocent people in France.
The horrible acts are beyond human comprehension or words of consolation.
All of us suffer in the suffering of the innocent people in France.
No religious tradition can ever condone such callous acts of violence. There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by Islam.
We offer condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims.
Muslims and non-Muslims must do more to liberate our world from fear, hate, and anger, much of which is rooted in ignorance.
We must build bonds of understanding based on mutual respect, thinking, planning, and then acting carefully and calmly.
The holy Qur’an defines the mission of the prophet as:
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
“It was only as a mercy that We sent you [Prophet] to all people.” (21:107)
The video appended below discusses how our beloved Prophet responded when he was subjected to criticism, ridicule and slander.
It is also important for Muslims to explain that the Prophet lives in our hearts. As he is ridiculed and insulted it causes us an unexplainable pain.
Pain of the heart is far greater than any physical pain. This is why Muslims react.
As a human community we must be sensitive to the pain that we may cause to others.
The world learned to treat the holocaust with sensitivities because it causes pain to our Jewish brothers and sisters.
I hope that all communities, secular as well as faith, will also learn to treat everyone with respect and not use freedom of speech to insult, cause hurt and thus provoke those who are prone to instigate trouble.
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) was asked: “What is Islam?”
His highly eloquent reply demonstrates the simplicity of the faith and its accessibility by all. He said:
“Obedience to God, and kindness and compassion to humanity.”
The earliest revelations to the Prophet underline the essence conveyed in the verse 2:177:
لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَالْمَلآئِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُواْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاء والضَّرَّاء وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ
Goodness does not consist in turning your faces towards the East or West. The truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travelers, and beggars, and to liberate those in bondage; those who keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity, and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God. (2:177)
What path do we need to walk in this tumultuous world that gives us hope for more understanding and peace between people of various backgrounds?
A Qur’anic verse that comes to mind is
إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِم
Verily, God does not change the condition of a people unless they change their inner selves; (13:11)
Our rapidly shrinking world is surfacing issues that to date have been confined to our islands of familiarity. We must create bridges of understanding across these islands.
Pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are a product of enlightened education and continuous investment by all civil society in recognizing and celebrating the diversity of the world’s peoples.
These are challenging times. We are struggling to relate to each other.
Almighty God says in the Qur'an:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other [not that ye may despise (each other)]. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most God-conscious and socially responsible. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (49:13)
Our success and challenge is to enable all to realize their God given potential.
We will be able to do great things in part because we are able to tap the potential of diverse, talented, passionate people from all over the world, and from all different backgrounds and cultures.
We will need to understand and define diversity in the broadest of terms to extend beyond race, national origin, gender, age, disability, etc.—it is truly about all the ways in which we differ.
In a pluralistic world what will be our unifying identity where we not only accept but appreciate our differences?
We will define ourselves by the 𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐚𝐥 𝐯𝐚𝐥𝐮𝐞𝐬 (Freedom, Justice. Human dignity etc.) we share, and most importantly, 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐮𝐩𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐝, as we live out our lives with a clear purpose and dreams for the betterment of all of humanity.