Mumbai – Islam's Reputation is at Stake

Sheikh Salman al-Odah
Have no doubt about it. The terrorist attacks that have recently taken place in Mumbai India and which cost the lives of 143 civilians and injured 370 are an abomination.

I feel great pain and sorrow for the innocent victims of these attacks. I also feel great sorrow for the sake of my religion. Islam has been treated unjustly by these attacks. Islam's global reputation has been severely wounded.

My heart is pain stricken, and I cannot help but wonder: Those people who committed these atrocious deeds – can they really be Muslims? There is yet to be a final confirmation on the perpetrators' religious convictions, but most evidence points to their having some sort of Islamic orientation and calling themselves "jihadists". They were young – in some reports 24 or 25 years old – they needed guidance, perspective, and the experience of their elders. As for their perpetrating their crimes in the name of billions of Muslims worldwide – or even the hundreds of millions of Muslims in India – that is a grave injustice to the faith.

We need to fear Allah and not disgrace our religion. The Prophet Muhammad – whom Allah sent as a mercy to all humanity – refrained from causing any harm to the hypocrites who were plotting against the Muslims while living right in their midst and under his authority. He could have dealt with them easily in any manner he chose – and he chose to show them peace and mercy. He explained: "It will never be said that Muhammad killed his companions."

Now in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the whole world – and especially the media – is speaking about Islam, and it has become the individual responsibility of every Muslim to have a mature, clear, and articulate stance about these kinds of atrocities.

What we have now witnessed in Mumbai is something that Allah hates. We believe from the depths of our hearts that Allah hates it. The murder of those people who were staying at those hotels – all sorts of people, saints and sinners alike – is murder plain and simple, and it is intolerable.

I say this even more emphatically to the Islamic scholars of India and the Islamic organizations of that country: Do not hesitate to condemn the Mumbai atrocities in the clearest and strongest of terms. This is no time for justifications and excuses.

The whole world must condemn what happened. If America, Britain, and Europe are grieved by what happened and can speak out, then we as Muslims should be at the forefront of expressing our grief and indignation. This is not simply because that is what our religion teaches us to feel, though we must feel horrified by such sin. It is also so that we will not be cast in with the lot of the perpetrators, or be seen as supporting those criminals in any way.

Allah commands us: "O you who believe: be upright for Allah, just witnesses." [Sûrah al-Mâ'idah: 8] He also commands: "O you who believe: be upright in justice, witnesses for Allah." [Sûrah al-Nisâ': 135]

These verses demand from us that we be clear and frank in our condemnation of the Mumbai atrocities. I call upon my children and my brothers in faith to fear Allah in their religion, and to fear for the reputation of their beliefs, and for their Prophet's reputation. We as Muslims have been sent to humanity to better their lives, not to end their lives.

Allah says: "Whoever kills any soul – save (in the dispensation of justice) against murder and those who spread violence throughout the earth – it shall be as if he had killed all of humanity, and whoso saves the life of a single soul, it shall be as if he had saved the lives of all humankind." [Sûrah al-Mâ'idah: 32]

When will we wake up and see reason? When will we face up to our responsibility towards our religion? When will we start acting like we realize there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world who share with us this religious identity? Does it make any sense to wipe their faces with mud or disgrace them? How many Muslims in India are now going suffer on account of what happened? We must speak up.

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