The Sanctity of Life
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I am flooded. Daze. Outrage. Horror. Anger. Grief. Anguish. Sorrow. Offense. Pain. Agony. Hurt. Sad. Gloom. Trying. Tired. Drained. Weary. Heartened. Hopeful. Not Going to Give Up.
I spend my days working to improve quality of life for older adults. My scientist friends spend their days in laboratories to cure cancer and end Alzheimer’s. For those facing serious illness, for those who have lived long and healthy lives, and for everyone in between, I live with the hope that my small steps on this earth will let others live better. Then some idiot shoots a half a hundred people. Dead. Just like that.
And, he claimed to share my faith.
Here is what my faith says about life:
“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.”
——— The Holy Quran, 5:32.
“The (true) servants of (God) the Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, reply with (words of) peace.”
——— The Holy Quran, 25:63.
“Do not take the life God has made sacred.”
——— The Holy Quran, 6:151.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “(God) has revealed to me that you should adopt humility so that no one oppresses another.”
——— Riyadh-us-Salaheen, Hadith 1589.
The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not harm his neighbor, and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should entertain his guest generously, and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet.”
——— Narrated by Abu Hurayrah, Sahih Al Bukhari, Vol: 8 Hadith 47.
The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “There is reward for kindness to every living thing.”
——— Bukhari and Muslim.
Clearly, the gunman’s actions violate the most basic principles of Islam. The problem with any hateful, murderous, or terrorist act is not with the faith. The problem is with a lack of faith. People who commit crimes in the name of God do not follow the commands of God. If they picked up the Good Book and took heed, they would stay away from transgressions against The Almighty.
When I first read the Orlando headlines, I felt the same knot in my stomach that I first felt upon learning of the Virginia Tech Shooting on April 27, 2007. This case got personal in a different way—gunman claims my faith, Donald Trump reiterates Muslim Ban, and the media circus repeats itself like a broken tape recorder. However, I am not worried about what he said or she said. I am American. I am Muslim. The two go hand in hand. I condemn this massacre in the same vein in which I condemned the Virginia Tech massacre—one that spurs action:
In the wake of Orlando, the other side of the Atlantic is soaking crimson with the blood of innocent lives:
Over 50 Killed in a bloody day in Aleppo; Isis bombings: More than 50 people killed and injured in attacks in Iraq; Over 50 Afghan Police Officers Killed in Helmand Fighting Against the Taliban, At Least 70 Killed in Clashes Around Syria’s Aleppa; Syria Conflict: At Least 224 Civilians Killed in the First Week of Ramadan; Syria: 28 Civilians Killed, 55 Wounded in Airstrikes; ISIS in Syria: Children Among Civilians Killed; Coalition Airstrikes Kill Over 400 Civilians in Syria; Daesh Terrorists Massacre Nearly 40 Civilians in Northern Syria Village; ISIS Opens Fire on Civilians Fleeing Fallujah, Killing 30; Civilians Killed Fleeing Fallujah: 149 Killed Across Iraq; Suicide Bombings in and Around Iraqi Capital Kill 31 People; 11 Civilians, Afghan General Killed by Roadside Bombs; NPR Journalist and Translator Killed by Taliban in Afghanistan; Russian Airstrikes Kill 39 civilians in Idlib; Russian Warplanes Descend on Syrian Hospitals Killing and Injuring Over 250; Pentagon Asks Russia Not to Bomb US-Backed Militants in Syria; Suicide Bomber Targets Assyrian Event in Syria: 3 Killed; Car Bomb Kills four People in Iraq’s Salahuddin; US to Russia: ‘Strong Concerns’ about Bombing American-Trained Syrian Rebels
I condemn the murder of every innocent person. Every life is sacred.
It can be difficult to stay positive in the depths of these injustices. However, a Believer is always positive and striving to make the world a better place. In this Holy month of Ramadan, let’s remember the victims in Orlando and across the world in prayer and in actions of kindness, charity, and bridge-building. I remain hopeful that small steps will one day multiply into waves of good and tides of justice. I believe in the sanctity of life. I believe in helping the disadvantaged and the oppressed regardless of who they are or where they come from. That is the Muslim tradition.