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Why Do Muslims Have to Defend Islam Every Time There Is a Terror Attack?

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Terrorism is a global menace. But it has become an existential threat to Muslims across the world. It has made 1.6 billion Muslims defensive; forcing them to defend themselves and their religion every time a terror strike occurs. In the aftermath of a terror strike, we often see harried Muslims condemning the violence, showing solidarity with the victims and reasserting that Islam has no place for bloodshed and those who are doing it are a tiny fraction of the community who should not be used to vilify the whole community.

It was a similar pattern that followed in the wake of the horrible attack at the Machester Arena in England on May 22; where 22 innocent people were massacred by a suicide bomber at an Ariana Grande concert.  The Manchester Islamic Centre marked the attack with a minute of silence and read a statement condemning the brutality of the attack. It urged people to share any leads, about the suspect Salman Abedi, with the police. The statement, read by Fawzi Haffar, said, “This is an act of cowardice and has no place in our religion or in any other religion.”

A similar statement was made by Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation in Manchester, in which he termed the fatal explosion as the ‘darkest day‘ in Manchester’s history.

It is a fact that this sort of violence results in problems for the Muslim community. According to some Muslims in Manchester, there has been a spike in Islamophobic incidents, following the Manchester Arena suicide bombing, ranging from verbal abuse to criminal damage to mosques. A Muslim girl reported that she was spat at and a man was told to ‘go home’. An arsonist attacked a mosque in Oldham. These reports of the rise in incidents directed against the community were corroborated, according to the BBC, by chief constable of Greater Manchester Ian Hopkins who remarked that his force had reported a hike in hate crimes from 28 to 56 between May 22 and May 24.

Mohammed Ullah, a Muslim chaplain at the University of Manchester, demonstrated his exasperation in the following words, “We are sick of having to apologize and being the first to condemn it. What more can we do? Tell me what more can we do?” Ullah’s indignation is towards a tiny fraction of Muslims who twist the meaning of the Quranic verses and the sayings of the Prophet out of context and seek to avenge the injustice by the massacre of innocent people. Islam condemns such dastardly and cowardice acts and their perpetrators and warns them of severe punishment.

Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever throws himself down from a mountain and kills himself will be throwing himself down in the Fire of Hell for ever and ever. Whoever drinks poison and kills himself will be sipping it in the Fire of Hell for ever and ever. Whoever kills himself with a piece of iron will have that iron in his hand, thrusting it into his belly in the Fire of Hell for ever and ever.”

This is the punishment of those people who kill themselves for the soul is a property of God and its sacredness can’t be flouted by abruptly eliminating it by any means. But if a person’s suicide leads to mass murder and massacre of innocent people; then its severity can easily be gauged by a famous Quranic verse, “Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.”  (Quran: 5:32).

The next verse elaborates it further and says that those who strive to cause corruption in the land “through their mischief deserve to be killed, crucified and their hands and feet be cut from opposite sides or they should be exiled from the land. This is a disgrace for them in this world and they will get more severe punishment in the Hereafter“(Quran: 5:33).

Muslim scholars have a consensus on the fact that suicide is strictly prohibited and not permissible for anyone. A person who commits suicide with the knowledge that this is permissible will be a permanent resident of hell. Apart from suicide bombings, Islam is also averse to those people who take the law into their own hands and spread terror by their extremist acts or ideology. I condemn, from the core of my heart, all these acts of barbarism and pray to Almighty to turn the world into an abode of peace and harmony.

My heart goes out to the victims of Manchester as well as to those Coptic Christians who lost their lives en route to the Saint Samuel monastery close to the southern town of Minya in Egypt when they were waylaid by the assailants from the Islamic State and killed in cold blood. Christians constitute 10% of Egypt’s population of 93 million. They are a sizeable minority and need to be protected by the government. The latter should take adequate steps to ensure their safety and protect them from extremists.  

A small minority of Muslims distort the Quranic verses and find justifications for their cowardly acts. Islam and the Muslim community should not be held accountable for some people’s narrow objectives of fanning terror. Plotting bombs or killing by gun or by blowing oneself are all acts of barbarism and should not be condoned. The perpetrators of these acts should be brought to justice and awarded the harshest punishment possible under the law of the land.    

 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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