A great evil has unleashed itself on the United States, taking thousands of American lives. We do not know yet who is behind this attack, but inevitably speculation goes to Arab radicals and Muslim fundamentalists. Indeed, this writer himself, though an American convert to Islam, fears that such speculation is correct. Nonetheless, as a Muslim, I have to avow categorically that if terrorists calling themselves “Muslim” are responsible, they have lost the right to call themselves members of the Islamic community. Islam as a truth of the human heart—“surrender” to God’s Qualities of Love and Compassion for all lives—is an enemy to the darkness of purpose and despair which the killers represent and are working to spread. Islam, as it is quietly practiced by the majority of Muslims around the world, has no part in this action. The horror is the act not of genuine Muslims, but of those who are Islam’s enemies. Anyone who wants to kill innocents—and to use other innocents to do their dirty work—are pawns of Satan.
Sympathizers will justify an action like this with reference to despair and injustice suffered at the hands of Americans and their allies, perhaps especially the Israelis. But Islam is nothing but faith in God and there is no faith where there is despair. People of faith know that God is the Sovereign of Creation and that both prosperity and suffering are in His Trust. Those without this Trust in God have no such faith and they have no place within Islam, though they may use Islamic terminology to justify themselves.
Whoever spreads doubt in God and doubt in the essentially Divine nature of the human Soul has made Islam their enemy. Though the entire world may doubt the reality of God, a true Muslim knows that God is the truth of his own heart, and that the unity of God finds its correspondence in the command to live in unity with God’s creation. The mark of faith in God is simple conscience, treating all lives equally and regarding the suffering of other lives as equivalent to one’s own suffering. No Muslim who trusts in God could commit a horror like that which was committed today because, even if Muslims have suffered, they cannot want other lives to suffer as well. Islam, in fact, enjoins the opposite: when Muslims suffer, they are commanded to learn compassion from that suffering. Suicide, murder, and vengeance—all these are forbidden.
If anyone in the world cites the Qur’an and Islamic tradition to justify such conscientiousless and bestial behavior, I beg my fellow Americans to reject their justification and to know that voices like this are perverting Islam to suit their own bloody inclinations. It is a sad fact of religious history that men can justify any atrocity they want with reference to their holy book, whether it be the Qur’an or the Bible. This does not reflect on the true significance of the Scripture, but on the capacity of human beings to warp spiritual truth on behalf of their own un-Godly purposes.
The work of those who love God in Islam and in other religions must be to comfort other lives, not to inflict suffering upon them. We have to be witnesses for the reality that God dwells within the human heart as Mercy, even when that in-dwelling Presence is forgotten or ignored. We have to be witnesses for the Truth that God’s Compassion is His Highest Name and that when compassion and conscience are abandoned and rejected, men betray both God and their own connection to Him. We have to be witnesses for justice against injustice, for compassion against despair and for love against hatred. We have to be witnesses against vengeance and for forgiveness. In other words, we have to be servants of the Light of God, rather than slaves of Satan’s darkness. Human beings may contain both God’s Light and Satan’s darkness, but those with faith in Him know that the human Soul is heir to the Light and is inseparable from it; its nature is giving comfort and solace, not exacting suffering and pain.
Muslims who take their faith in God seriously are appalled at the possibility that Islam could be twisted and perverted in such a way as to justify the horror of these events. We call on our spiritual leaders to speak out against all terror, all inhumanity and to assert clearly that Islam is the way of genuine peace, not the peace of the hypocritical tongue, but the peace of the truthful and compassionate heart. We want people to love God as we love Him and to love one another as He loves us and we know that the effect of evil upon human hearts can be to harden them against each other and against God and to instill bitterness and render them brutal. If Islam has a mission, it is only to foster this love and compassion through surrender to God.
And finally, we beseech God’s Compassion and Mercy on the lives of all those who were killed today and we pray that He will provide some comfort for their loved ones, both in this world and in the next.