Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God, the Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

We may never know why this man, Khalid Masood, decided to run over innocent people on Westminster Bridge and then stab a police officer to death. Of course, many – as always – are blaming his Islamic faith, but this is far too simplistic an answer, as research into the subject of terrorism shows.

Still, it is absolutely true that many of these “holy warriors” have criminal backgrounds and – as Rajan Basra of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London told NPR – some of them seek redemption through their acts of barbaric terror:

So we looked at criminals that became jihadists, and we saw two distinct patterns. The first was that they seek redemption from their violent pasts, from their criminal pasts in jihadism. Basically the idea of redemption is intrinsically linked to the idea of martyrdom, which says that the minute that you die, you will be absolved of your previous sins. You will be able to intercede on behalf of family members on the day of judgment.

So it has a very strong effect on people that are looking for this redemption in their lives. If that’s the case, we do have to ask ourselves, well, why is it that they get involved in jihadism and they don’t become let’s say Quakers or members of the Salvation Army beecause in the marketplace of ideas, there are many, many different ideologies that can offer this redemption and the ability to wipe the slate clean. And so our research really showed that perhaps it’s down to human networks – who you know, who you’re in touch with face to face or on the Internet, to a lesser degree. And they can introduce these ideas and kind of steer this person that is searching for this salvation and redemption into extremism.

Here is where we must be absolutely clear: redemption can never be gained through murder.

When turning over a new leaf, it is normal to feel guilt and perhaps shame over one’s past misdeeds. But to think that killing innocent people in London, or Paris, or Brussels, or Beirut, or Baghdad, or Pakistan will bring someone redemption and salvation is sheer madness. Further, it betrays the very letter and spirit of Islam. The Qur’an talks about gaining redemption, and it does not speak of murder at all:

Say: thus speaks God: “O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves, do not despair of God’s mercy: behold, God forgives all sins – for verily, He alone is much-forgiving, and a dispenser of grace!” (39:53)

…do not lose hope of God’s life-giving mercy: verily, none but people who deny the truth can ever lose hope of God’s life-giving mercy (12:87)

Say: “Unto whom belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth?” Say: “Unto God, Who has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy… (6:12)

This is but a small sample of the dozens upon dozens of verses that speak of God’s limitless grace and mercy. And no where does it say that, to attain God’s grace and mercy, one must resort to murder. The Prophetic literature also speaks of God’s limitless mercy:

God says: ‘O Son of Adam, as long as you invoke Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O Son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and you then asked forgiveness from Me, I would forgive you. O Son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the Earth, and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it [too].’ [Tirmithi]

Again, no where is murder mentioned as a condition for redemption. Murder is a horrific crime. When one commits murder, as the Qur’an says in 5:32, it is “as if he has killed all humanity.” There is no way that, by committing this act of barbarity, one can become right with God.

Redemption can never be gained through murder.

Our Lord is a Beautiful, Loving God. No matter what someone has done in his life, all he has to do is turn to God with sincere repentance, and he will find a God full of love and grace and mercy. No sin is bigger than God’s mercy. No sin. He is always there waiting for us to return to His Door. And killing others can never open that door up.

This message has to be spread far and wide: Redemption can never be gained through murder. Never.

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