Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I leave aside the fact that no other community is expected to condemn the actions of its criminal fringe. I leave aside the fact that the perverse logic of assigning blame to the whole for the actions of a few tends to be applied to Muslims preferentially. I leave aside the fact that most of the victims of “Islamic terror” are other Muslims themselves. I leave aside the fact the attention of the world to acts of terror in Western countries is much more than that in Muslims countries (see recent attacks in Turkey and compare for yourself).

I put all of that aside today. I put all that aside and condemn what happened in Brussels – which took the lives of 34 people – with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my mind.

It’s very true that such terror is being rained on scores of innocent Muslim populations by their own governments on a daily basis. It’s very true that terror has no religion or ethnic group or nationality. It’s true that Western governments have supported brutal dictatorships in the Muslim majority world to serve geopolitical interests. That is all true.

That’s does not even begin to justify, however, attacking innocent people anywhere in the world. And just as the double standards with respect to Muslims and Islam must be called out every time, terror in the name of Islam must also be called out and condemned for what it is: pure unadulterated evil.

Occasions such as these give fuel to those who want to assign blame to all of Islam (see Trump’s statement: “Islam hates us”). Occasions such as these allow politicians to cynically use them for political advantage (see Sen. Ted Cruz saying Muslim neighborhoods need to be “patrolled”). Nevertheless, attacks such as these – for which the savages of ISIS have claimed responsibility – must be condemned with every cell in our bodies.

And the reason such violence in the name of Islam needs to be condemned is not because our silence denotes our complicity. As I said above, no other religious group is expected to condemn the actions of its criminal fringe. Rather, when the savages – “barbarians” is too nice of a word – of ISIS, or the Taliban, or Boko Haram, or Al Qaeda commit violence and cloak it in the garbs of Islam; when they touch our holy scripture with their blood-soaked hands; when they call upon the holy name of God as they commit savage acts of brutality: they defile our faith. For that, we Muslims – and all people of faith, frankly – must take great offense.

I can almost hear detractors, as they read this, say that my forceful condemnations almost never come out when a Muslim capital or city is ravaged by the terror of these savages, whether it be Istanbul, or Baghdad, or Beirut, or Ivory Coast. I must confess that, emotionally, I was much more affected by the attacks in Paris (a city which I visited and then fell in love with a few months before) than those in Beirut. Yet, that does not mean that I felt any less pain at the deaths in Beirut.

I do not feel any less pain when I see images of people being killed by savage terrorists in any city anywhere in the world. All life is sacred. And as the Qur’an says, the taking of one innocent life is like taking the lives of all of humanity. No matter who is killed, it hurts me on a personal level.

And when I realize that the murderers behind a terror attack are savages who act in the name of my faith, I seethe with outrage for they use the beautiful faith I know and love and twist it to justify their murderous savagery. That’s why I condemn them now. That’s why I will condemn them perpetually.

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