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.