Sunday, June 19, 2016

Perspective: Orlando shooter has 'defamed' the Islamic faith | Usama Awan


Despite the peaceful basis upon which Islam is based, there is a dire need in the Muslim world for sound leadership to curtail such terrorism. ISIS and others who know nothing about Islam are picking out Muslim youth who themselves are confused about their faith.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Cleveland.com
By Usama Awan | June 19, 2016

I was in shock when I heard about the devastating attack in Orlando. As the news sets in, I wonder what the families of these victims are feeling over the loss of their loved ones. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the victims' families.

As a Muslim American, I feel it necessary to separate Islam from such acts of violence. The killer, who pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed "Islamic State," has defamed a faith of over 1.6 billion people. It's important to realize that the peaceful majority has nothing to do with these terrorists who have hijacked Islam to further their agenda.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, does not represent the teachings of Islam. Recent evidence shows that he would regularly attend the very same nightclub where this shooting spree occurred. Eyewitnesses say that he would get very drunk and even belligerent at times. These actions alone indicate that he in no way was a "devout" Muslim or a representative of the faith.

If one individual could speak for Islam, it would be the Prophet Muhammad – its founder. Currently, Muslims are observing the month of Ramadan in which we fast from sun-up to sunset. Apart from fasting, the Prophet also encouraged Muslims to control their anger with increased focus during this holy month and emphasized the remembrance of God. The Prophet Muhammad stated, "If any one of you is fasting, let him not utter obscenities or act in an ignorant manner, and if anyone insults him or wants to fight him, let him say, 'I am fasting.'" If even speaking indecently is considered a sin, then how could one think of killing another?

Despite the peaceful basis upon which Islam is based, there is a dire need in the Muslim world for sound leadership to curtail such terrorism. ISIS and others who know nothing about Islam are picking out Muslim youth who themselves are confused about their faith.

Imams need to be vocal about Islam's true teachings. Take for example the Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who is the spiritual leader of tens of millions worldwide. Under his initiative "Muslims for Life," Ahmadi Muslims in the United States have collected nearly 40,000 pints of blood in just four years since its inception. The purpose of this campaign was to show that Muslims stand for saving lives not taking them. These teachings are not an effort to make Islam more appealing – they are its very essence. The Quran clearly states that whosoever saves a life, it is as if they have saved all of mankind (5:33).

 As a medical student, I look forward to the day when I will be in a position to help make a difference in people's lives and even try to help save some. I know it will bring me closer to my Creator, as Islam teaches. In stark contrast, terrorist organizations claim that taking lives will bring them reward. If only these people were to read the Quran they would see that the very same verse I cited above talks about killing innocent people as being equivalent to killing all of mankind. One simply cannot just love the Creator and at the same time hate some of His creation.



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Usama Awan is a medical student at Ohio State University and a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America.


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