According to the Quran, it is as if all of humanity was killed last weekend. And this is by far the most befitting and poignant description of the Orlando atrocity I have heard. As indeed it is for the recent deadly bombings in Baghdad and mass kidnap and murder in Nigeria. How strange then that the perpetrators and the world see the pages of this very book as being heavy and dripping with blood, from the tragedies it so powerfully describes.
As a proud British Muslim (who would have abandoned this religion long ago if it even resembled what it is commonly assumed to by some parts of the media) I’d like to clear a few things up.
First and foremost, a Muslim is divinely instructed to abide by the rules of the country in which they live (4:59). This alone nullifies anyone’s argument that disregards their own country’s governing legislation for any real or twisted brand of sharia law.
Secondly, even severely twisted sharia cannot be made to look like what happened on Sunday. Islam clearly prohibits homicide, and only a competent and qualified court has the capacity to judge an individual, all the time based on whether or not he has disregarded the rights of others within society. The Quranic mention of homosexuality is based around the story of Sodom, common to all three Abrahamic faiths. The Quran states no instruction for punishment or action to be taken against homosexuals, unlike the Old Testament’s orders to “put them to death” in the Bible.
As in Christianity and Judaism, homosexual acts are not legitimate in Islam, but there is vast difference of opinion with regard to how it is dealt with under sharia law. However, even under the most severe opinion, the Orlando shootings and their like remain utterly outrageous and unrecognisable.
I asked the President of The Islamic Society of Britain for her thoughts on the events in relation to God, and she told me: “The Quran’s greater emphasis is on “humanity”, which the Quran describes in terms of being one family. So too should humanity be the greater dimension that is emphasised in our outlook and shapes our attitudes. Compassion is a central theme of the Quranic message and we must not lose sight of compassion when we look at human relations. We have no right to dehumanise people because of their sexual orientation, even if one holds such relationships to be sinful. Yet all too often, a flippant dehumanising of people is what we see. That’s an uncomfortable state of affairs.”
When the sanctity of life is so strongly emphasised throughout scripture and prophetic tradition, a faith where even damage to animal and plant life in a time of war is prohibited, how can any intelligent person accept the link between such inhumane actions and that very same religion?
“LGBT persons are our fellow citizens who have every right to live in peace and safety, their protection is our common protection.” This is the Islamic Society of Britain’s statement following the Orlando shootings.
Hundreds of Muslims gathered in parks and mosques to hold prayers for the victims, and many others rushed to donate blood for the injured. Rallies condemning the attack have taken place from Pakistan to Spain, and Muslim leaders and scholars globally spoke up immediately of their disgust and heartbreak. And we will continue to pray and rush and rally and rise, for peace and for humanity, no matter how much Isis or Donald Trump tells you otherwise.
But the media damage has been done, and the anti-Muslim backlash is in full swing. However, what will always remain far stronger than our frustration at the unfairness of reporting and demonising is our sadness. Because it is as if all of humanity was killed the other day.
“Whoever kills an innocent person, it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity. And whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved all of humanity.” Quran (5:32)
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