By Imam Mohamed Magid
President, Islamic Society of North America
In the Name of God the Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Dear Fellow Brothers and Sisters in Islam, it is with great sadness that we have heard the devastating news of the deplorable acts of violence committed against our brothers and sisters of the Christian faith in Nigeria. Our prayers go out to the family, friends and community of all those who have lost loved ones and those who were injured.
These horrific acts of violence demand from us Muslims and people of all faiths around the globe to stand up against all those who perpetrate such horrific acts. Violence of any kind against any people cannot be ignored. Transgressions against people's rights are occurring today across all boundaries. Regardless of what perpetrators of such acts claim to hold over any other person, to live safely is a right, and we must all stand up to protect the right for all people. "Stand for justice even if it is against yourself" (Quran Surat-un-Nisa, Chapter 4, Verse 135).
It is those who truly know the religion of Islam who, despite our differences, engage in peaceful dialogue and wholeheartedly forsake acts of violence like this. As dedicate worshippers we recognize that an injustice in one part of the world is never validated by another injustice. Human life is sacred and it is never acceptable to take a person's life to promote a political agenda. Violence is never the answer. We must create a community of harmony with and respect for others. This is the example of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the teachings of our faith. In a time of our history, Muslims were persecuted to the point that they had to flee from their homes, and we must remember it was the gracious Christian King of Abyssinia who opened his arms, welcoming the Muslims to live safely in his land, under his protection. He helped us preserve the tradition of our Prophet and the peaceful and loving religion of Islam. Muslims must use the King's example in all of our interactions with people of other faiths. Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the second leader of the Muslim community after Prophet Muhammad's death (May God be pleased with him), out of respect for the Church decided not to pray in a Jerusalem Church so that Muslims would not incorrectly feel that they had any entitlement to take it over in the future. He taught us that it is the responsibility of Muslims to protect the religions and religious places of worship in lands in which Muslims are the majority or minority.
The beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever violates the rights of the People of the Book, I will complain against them on the Day of Judgment." There is none amongst us who wants to be complained against by our Beloved Prophet and teacher. Those who committed injustices against the Christians of Nigeria have distanced themselves from the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and from his love on the Last Day. Our community must take a strong stand against these criminals and stand beside the innocent people of Nigeria. We, as Muslims, will answer the call of Archbishop John Onaiyekan who called on Muslims to stand against the murderers, as this is not a representation of any aspect of Islam. We stand by the Archbishop during this time and we share with you the words of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah:
This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them.
Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses.
Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet.
Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.
The Muslims are to fight for them.
If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).
We have the example of those before us, like the King of Abyssinia, and we have the example of those among us, like Pastor James Wuye and his friend, Imam Muhammad Ashafa. During violent clashes against each other in their days as youth in Nigeria, each suffered the loss of loved ones as the hands of the other. After years of being set on revenge the two were brought together and abandoned their hopes for revenge, opting instead for the hope of harmony and peace. Together, as friends of different faiths, they have established the Interfaith Mediation Center of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Forum in Nigeria. Their courage and determination to rise above evil is what we must all strive toward. That is the teaching of all of our faiths, and the path to peaceful living.
Violence against religious minorities should outrage every Muslim with a conscience because such violence is a misrepresentation of our beloved Prophet Muhammad and transgression of the core of our beliefs. It is a distortion of the beautiful message of Islam. The Muslim community must be leaders in standing against violence. This is the responsibility of the Muslims of Nigeria and Muslims all around the world. I call upon my fellow imams, Muslim scholars and American Muslims to stand against the actions of those who attacked Christian churches. I have asked the King of Jordan, the Council of Muslims Scholars and the leaders of Tunisia to convene a Muslim scholars' conference to protect the rights of minorities in Muslim-majority countries, and they have accepted. We must continue this effort by establishing a council specifically for Muslims and Christians, and work together with the International Interfaith Peace Corps, a new organization, to address the issues of conflict and violence taking place between communities of faith. And we should help to establish leadership roles to reconcile these differences. In addition, we must incorporate into our community curriculums the prophetic examples of how to work together with people of other faiths.
And finally the Muslims of Nigeria, and around the world, must be the example by helping our Christian brothers and sisters to rebuild the destroyed churches and take care of the victims of Nigeria, just as my mosque community, by the Grace of God, was able to do for the churches in Pakistan.
"O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do" (Quran Surat Al-Maidah, Chapter 5, Verse 8).
We pray that God will help us to stand for what is right and leave all that is evil and promote understanding and harmony amongst each other. Let us work together to stop violence of all forms against all people.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has served the Muslims of this continent for more than 40 years. ISNA is one of the Largest and a Premier National Muslim Organization that attracts more than40,000 Muslims at its Annual Convention and Coordinates with several hundred Mosques across the USA. All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) is one of the largest Muslim communities/mosques in the DC Metro ADAMS serves more than 6,000 families and has 10 branches in Virginia/D.C.
Source: Huffington Post