“What the hell are these bastards doing in my country?”
I heard my otherwise calm and usually cultured director, Steve, yelling at the top of his lungs. It was Thursday morning and I was sitting in my office located in South West London’s famous Putney Bridge. Although his yelling caught me off guard, I knew the reason behind it. On that eventful morning, the London underground was under attack by terrorists. My director’s girlfriend was stuck in Central London, and he was unable to get in touch with her. It was the first time I heard him curse. He cursed terrorists, he cursed Islam, and he cursed Muslims. I was the only Muslim around, and I was terrified.
Fifty-two civilians lost their lives and some 700 were left wounded. Luckily, his girlfriend survived. Steve personally apologized to me for his behavior and I readily accepted his apology. However, Steve’s response left me perturbed. How do I tell the world that I am a Muslim and I loathe terrorists as much as non-Muslims? Its been 10 years since the 7/7 attacks, but every time I hear similar terrible news, I pray for the safety of those directly being impacted, and hope to God the perpetrators aren’t Muslim.
When I learned of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, I had the same sinking feeling that I had at the time of London’s 7/7 attacks. I could hear many “Steves” cursing Muslims. People who didn’t and don’t realize that over 50,000 Muslims have become the victims of terrorism in the last decade.
The Holy Quran commands Muslims against creating disorder in the society and deems human lives sacred. Prophet Muhammad set high standards of peace and harmony. He forgave his worst enemies and cared for those who aggrieved him. Over a billion Muslims are leading their lives in a peaceful manner and are flourishing as a result of it. Yet every time some sick minded, bloodthirsty individual uses Islam to fulfill his gruesome desires, the entire religion of Islam and the whole Muslim world pays the price. Despite the fact that 2 of the 12 victims of Charlie Hebdo shootings were French Muslims, French radicals are single-mindedly attacking mosques.
In the Charlie Hebdo story, however, there is a twist. The terrorists decided to kill the Charlie Hebdo staff on the grounds of publishing Prophet Muhammad’s caricature. The truth is that such an act is painful for all Muslims regardless of their sect, culture, or demographic. This emotional pain, however, does not give them the license to kill. On many occasions Prophet Muhammad was mocked, ridiculed, abused, and persecuted. Without exception, he always ignored such vile acts and in turn prayed for the culprits. This was directly in line with the Quranic description of the servants of the Gracious God, that they say Peace when the ignorant address them. If the Prophet of Islam had seen the caricatures created by Charlie Hebdo, he would have simply said “Peace” and moved on.
The atrocities terrorists committed in London, and in Paris, were both inhumane and un-Islamic. These terrorists are a cancer that must be purged. By working together, we can purge this cancer.
In the meantime I find myself asking, “What the hell are these bastards doing on my planet?”