Farhana Mayer is a Senior Research in Islamic Studies at Quilliam.
I would like to start with a prayer for those who died in the attack or were injured, those who are bereaved and grieving. May God have mercy on them all and give them strength and courage in this hard time.
It is my sincere hope that the time will come, sooner rather than later, when we can all live respecting everyone else’s freedoms, dignity and human rights.
Like most if not all other spiritual traditions, the Muslim spiritual tradition teaches that every human being is made in the most beautiful image: in God’s own image. Every human being is a sacred entity into whom God breathes living spirit from His own spirit. Every human being is valued by God who empathises with every human and all living creatures for the life in all is His own.
Human rights are based on humane values, and humane values – for those of us who believe in God – are extensions of the divine qualities.
But the murder of people, the hatred of those who are different to you, the abuse and exploitation of others, aggression and violence – these are not in harmony with God’s attributes.
The terror attack perpetrated by Omar Mateen, like all such terrorist attacks, was an act of violence which ruptures Peace, a core divine quality, (God is al-Salām). The attack was the result of intolerance which obstructs the divine mercy, compassion and tolerance of al-Raḥmān (The Most Merciful), al-Ra’ūf (The Most Kind), al-Ḥalīm (The Most Forbearing); it was an act that destroyed life which all belongs to God the Living One (al-Ḥayy). Self-evidently, such acts do not honour God.
The attack in Orlando was done in imitation of Daesh (ISIS); by a man filled with hate, who pledged allegiance to IS just before doing what he did – thereby dedicating the murders to Daesh.
Daesh say such things will lead the perpetrators to paradise. But the thing about paradise is that it is full of God’s lights which is to say His qualities. And those who violate or contradict His attributes profoundly through their thoughts and actions, cannot enter into God’s paradise because they are incompatible with His nature. It is an ontological impossibility. Hatred, murder, violence do not lead to God who is Peace, the Living One, the Loving (al-Wadūd). Intolerance and injustice do not lead to the All-Embracing Justice that God is.
Daesh and their likes say one thing, but God’s character tells us something very different. Most of us see this; I hope and pray that those who do not yet see this will come to understand. As the wise dictum goes: Judge not a book by its cover, or title, but by its content, or quality.
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