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The carnage in Sri Lanka was neither for Islam nor for Muslims

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EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Sri Lankan security personnel walk past dead bodies covered with blankets amid blast debris at St. Anthony’s Shrine following an explosion in the church in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019. – A string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing at least 156 people, including 35 foreigners. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

And among them is he whose speech pleases you in worldly life even as he calls the Almighty to witness as to what is in his heart… but whenever he goes away, he strives throughout the land to cause corruption therein and destroy crops and animals. And the Almighty does not like corruption. (Quran 2: 204)

Brethren, I did this essay at that highly auspicious hour when celestial beatitude makes itself available for the lowly and the mighty.

I could not sleep as I was wont to do. My heart was burdened by those incidents. I was awake in the dead of the night out of the realization that humanity is sitting on a crag, on a precipice. I soon reached the conclusion that I needed to dedicate today’s essay not and never to their memory (the Sri Lankan murderers and bombers) but to the memory of those innocent Sri Lankans who were atrociously caught down and violently murdered by individuals whose soul had been sold to the ghoul; individuals whose minds had been led to the latrine and permanently locked in.

I thought there could be no other way to deplore and deprecate, as we have unfortunately had to do several times, the cold-blooded murder, the most perfidious, most impious, most blasphemous acts of brigandage that culminated in the death of over three hundred and fifty Sri Lankans on Monday this week.

As had happened before either in Nigeria, New Zealand, Egypt or in London, the purveyors of evil had perfected their plans to visit evil and malfeasance on Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka incognito. They had ensured that those plans were undetected by the Sri Lankan security services. They had sought and obtained patronage of the most flagitious deviant group in the contemporary period- a group that sees commission of violence and unwarranted despoliation and destruction of lives and properties as the means and end of their ungodly and highly unIslamic agenda.

Yes. The Prophet of Islam had foretold their emergence and had offered ample insights into the styles, methods and methodologies. He is reported to have once said- “There will emerge a (deviant) and dissentious group and faction; a people with excellent words and vile deeds. They will read the Qur’an, but their faith does not go past their throats. They will pass through religion the way an arrow passes through its quarry. They will no more come back to the religion than the arrow will come back to its original course…They summon to the book of the Almighty but they have nothing to do with it…”. In other words, this deviant group would claim affiliation to Islam but does not in reality have anything to do with the religion. Their actions do not have anything to do with Islam simply because Islam does not approve of the group’s atrocious agenda nor its antediluvian philosophy.

No. Islam does not and cannot approve of unwarranted murder of innocent lives no matter its creed or race- “…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).

No! Islam does not and cannot approve of unwarranted murder of believing men and women, be they Christians or Muslims: “…whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and the Almighty has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment” Quran 4: 93. No! Islam does not and cannot approve of unconscionable destruction of places of worship be they Churches or mosques simply because such actions go against the Islamic creed and theology.

In the instruction and code of conduct he gave the Muslim army, Abu Bakar Siddiq, the first khalifah (successor)of Prophet, said as follows: “Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for guidance on the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies; do not kill a woman, a child, or an aged man; do not cut down fruitful trees; do not destroy inhabited areas; do not slaughter any of the enemies’ sheep, cow or camel except for food; do not burn date palms, nor inundate them; do not embezzle (e.g. no misappropriation of booty or spoils of war) nor be guilty of cowardliness…You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.”

If indeed an army that was involved in active battle with the enemies of Islam could not engage in wanton destructions of lives and properties of non-Muslims, one cannot but continue to wonder where these fiendish elements derive inspirations for these horrendous carnage and atrocities.

In other words, the celebration of murder in such perverse ways as has become common among violent extremists has no justifications in Islam. It could equally not be valid, from the dual perspectives of Islamic history and theology, that the Sri Lanka attacks were carried out for and on behalf of victims of the New Zealand incident.

The day Hamza, the Uncle of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was killed by Wahshi, the grief became so much on the Prophet’s heart that he said: “I would kill thirty people in vengeance”. But the Almighty soon sent revelations which forbid the Prophet from carrying out his threat. It reads: “If you have to retaliate, let your retaliation be commensurate with the wrong which was done to you; but if you endure with patience, the best reward indeed is for those who endure with patience”. Our Prophet eventually pardoned Wahshi; the latter eventually accepted Islam.

Brethren, it has thus become a duty for us all, Muslims, Christians and others to find ways through which these anomies could cease in our world. This is because whenever acts of violence such as the one in Sri Lanka or other parts of the world occur, we all become victims.

We are all victims of the disconnect between our faith (religion) and our reality. We are victims of our failure to rein in forces of ignorance and poverty that feed descent into brigandage and violence in our societies. We must all seek cure for these sicknesses: that of extremism and that of acute greed and materialism.

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