We strongly condemn the violent terrorist attack which has taken the lives of so many innocent New Zealanders as they went about their peaceful practice of worship at Mosques in Christchurch today. Our prayers are with the victims and with their loved ones. May God have mercy on them and grant a speedy recovery to the wounded.
There are several points we must raise from such events:
1. This atrocity has been facilitated by decades worth of dehumanisation of Muslims. It is the result of an ‘ideological hardness’ which numbs the heart. Some people adopt non-negotiable, binary and negative assumptions about the world and others. This makes one group of people ‘otherise’ another. This is not simply labelling people as belonging to other groups; it views people of a group as an evil monolith, thereby preventing the positive engagement with those who seem to be different. Those who otherise others must be held to account. We also must overcome this by not turning our backs to one of the greatest callings in Islam, compassionately and intelligently sharing its message with the world:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and reason with them in a way that is best.”
[The Quran, Chapter 16, Verse 125]
2. One important method of removing sentiments of hatred and anxiety is by understanding what our differences are. By understanding one another, we can come together in eradicating prejudice:
“People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you may get to know one another.”[The Quran, Chapter 49, Verse 13]
3. Responding with virtue and beauty, in the long term, is one of the solutions to eradicating animosity and hatred:
“Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil with what is better and your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend,” [The Quran, Chapter 41, Verse 34]
4. Loving for others what one loves for themselves, is a central Islamic belief. We must be brave and increase our efforts to share our values, so the people that hate others can be transformed into people that want the best for others:
“Love for humanity what you love for yourself.” The Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him].
5. Those who follow God’s guidance do not worry, nor do they despair. We must continue to attend our places of worship, open our doors to the wider community, positively engage and share the beautiful message of Islam.
“Do not worry, God is with us.” [The Quran, Chapter 9, Verse 40]
We must eliminate hatred by taking to account those that otherise others, understand our differences, love for others what we love for ourselves, repel evil with virtue and beauty. Together we can help create a world based on compassion and fairness for all.