Every time people are murdered somewhere in the world by a Muslim, we go through a similar process internally within the Muslim community.
First we see and hear the attack, and feel a heavy weight on our chest, in our gut, and we think “Not again…”
We might even stop reading the news, change the channel, or put down our smart device if we don’t want to deal with the news then and there.
As we venture out into the world, going about our daily lives, we catch more glimpses, hear more sound bites of what’s going on. Eventually we realise we can’t put it off any more – alright – let’s find out what happened.
As we find and digest the various facts and reports around the incident, the loudest voices are the right-wing speakers and politicians around the world.
Without a doubt, they are shouting from the rooftops that Islam is the problem, they will probably also fold-in refugees somehow, imply that they are the ones who can fix all the world’s problems once elected, and they might also take a stab at whatever centre or left-wing figures they have long had an agenda against. The height of political opportunism.
Something interesting also happens within the Muslim community itself.
The endless debate, of whether we should all collectively condemn, or not condemn, the murder of innocent people going about their lives.
There are many voices in this debate, the Muslim scholars have their own varying views, with some well-known Imams quickly posting and tweeting their well-worded condolences and calling for world peace.
Some encourage others not to condemn, because we are not guilty of any crime, and condemning the violence exacerbates the idea that somehow all Muslims are collectively responsible for this crime.
Some Muslims also condemn the attack, while simultaneously condemning attacks on Muslim countries around the world that have claimed many more lives, but got practically no media attention whatsoever – something we are sadly used to by now.
I’ll admit, it’s hard to know how to go about this all at times.
If we don’t condemn, we will be accused of not caring, and not opposing terrorism.
If we do condemn, the world sees it as insincere, and will still claim that we “aren’t doing enough” to oppose terrorist attacks. Not to mention if we take this line, we will undoubtedly find ourselves condemning every single attack perpetrated by anyone who can be classified as a Muslim, and giving far less attention ourselves to the genocide happening to Muslims around the world
With each option, we must look at what we really achieve, and although I’m still thinking it over, I feel like we don’t really accomplish anything either way.
What is the real-world impact of this Olympics of opinions? Probably nothing at all.
While all of this is happening, there are literally millions of people around the world who are interested in Islam, feel positive about Islam, and might even be considering exploring Islam.
There are millions of people in the world actively seeking the truth, and to be close to Allah.
This situation reminds me of Surah ‘Abasa. Prophet Muhammad (s) was preaching Islam to the nobles of Quraysh, who were not interested in Islam. A blind man approached the Prophet, genuinely seeking out Allah, and the Prophet Muhammad (s) frowned at the blind man, and turned away from him.
To which Allah responded with specific Quranic revelation in Surah 80 Verses 1-12.
The Prophet was told clearly by Allah, in no uncertain terms, that his priority should be those who are earnestly and sincerely looking for Allah, and the truth, rather than trying to please those who are indifferent to the message of Islam.
These are powerful verses not just relevant to the Prophet (s) and this incident, but to all of us, for all time.