Islamologist, Farouk A. Peru, shares with us his views on the Manchester attack being the worst terrorist atrocity yet.
It is a horrible feeling to wake up to. It was only two months ago, after all, that a terrorist carried out the Westminster attack (I was literally across the river!) so I was lulled into letting my guard down as these attacks don’t come that often. And worse, yesterday’s suicide bombing carried out on the Manchester Arena took Islamic terrorism to a whole new level:
These monsters are now going after kids.
The attacker, one Salman Abedi, 22 years old, born and bred in Manchester and of Libyan heritage, must have known that the Ariana Grande concert would have children. He would have seen them going in but it still did not stop him. Can you imagine what kind of messed up monster it would take to continue such an attack? And worse, his parents came from Libya as refugees and were welcomed here. Can you imagine how Brits feel when ones whom they gave refuge to raised children who would commit such an atrocity? Not very nice, I can imagine.
Now, the people of the UK, no matter what their backgrounds, will not feel safe anymore, no matter where we go. It could be the pubs, clubs, cinemas or even restaurant, there may be a chance that some crazed fanatic would take our lives. The Prime Minister has now raised the threat level to critical, meaning a further attack is likely.
As a Muslim, I am utterly nauseated by last night’s attack. There is no other word for this atrocity other than ‘evil’. The fact that is deliberately targeted innocent children makes it even worse. And this person probably did it in the name of my religion which just as nauseating.
The only thing we can do now is to try even harder to prevent future attacks from happening. The way to do that is very simple: we need to wake the heck up!
The fact of the matter is, Muslims on the whole are very complacent. These attacks are simply cues for most of us to express some sadness, forget and return to normal life. We are not working hard enough to stop these attacks even though we are in the best position to do so.
We may not realise it but with each attack, the public’s goodwill towards us grows ever thinner. It is like the lumberjack hacking away at the trunk of an oak. The gashes are small to begin with. Unthreatening. But there will come a time when the final hack takes place and the tree of tolerance will fall. I sense that time is close.
Whatever happens to us, as Muslims, it is our religious duty to keep our domiciles safe. This is literally the very definition of the term ‘mu’min’ (usually translated as ‘believer’ but contextually referring one who is and ensures security). It is also part of our social contract and as Muslims, we are to honour our contracts. Most of all though, it is the ultimate sunnah (way of the Prophet). The Prophet was called ‘mercy unto the worlds’ (The Quran 21/107). If we are to copy him, should we not bring mercy to everyone as well? Why then are Muslims participating in the very definition of its opposite?
Of course there are Muslims who have helped others during this tragic episode. Taxi drivers gave free rides to victims. Restaurants offered free food for the emergency services. Muslims all over the world offered their prayers and condolences. We are just as grieved and angry at everyone else. But we have the capacity to prevent these attacks more so than anyone. We just need to look after ourselves.
Talk to our kids, spouses and even parents. Ask them about their understanding of faith. If they show extremist ideas, ask them why they feel so. It is important to talk with these confused people. Do not isolate them or worse, deride them. Show them the verses of the Quran on the rules of war and if you don’t know them yourself, take the trouble to learn! It is your duty to do so. And most of all, look at our own Tradition. Within in, are some unconscionable views. Unless we expunge these, our children will always think they are OK while they are merely opinions of men.
Today Katie Hopkins brought to the mainstream conversation what was previously unsaid: she called for ‘the final solution’. As an educated woman in Britain, it is difficult for me to believe that she did not know the ramifications of such a call. She has since deleted the tweet but not before garnering considerable support. The falling of the tree of goodwill cannot be far behind. We really need to wake the heck up.
By Farouk A Peru, Islamologist and author