By Imam Dr. Zijad Delic
(April 24, 2013) – As facts continue to emerge with the investigation into a new alleged terror plot in Canada, and as I read and listen to the news reports, politicians’ statements and the discussion among Canadians on the terrorists planning the vicious acts of terror here in my own nation, I remember my first statement on terrorism while serving as a Head Imam of the BC Muslims.
During one of my sermons after 9/11, I unequivocally, without hesitation, proclaimed during the Friday Prayer that, “If I were to ever notice or know of any planning, plots or activities against my own people – my Canadian nation, I would be the first one to act and report the case.”
I do also remember very well the positive and supportive response from my Canadian Muslim community in BC.
That is what Canadian Muslims will do because it is, not only their social and national responsibility, but a religious one as well.
That is exactly what has happened in this case, where the Muslim community tipped off security agencies about the terror plot.
Why this is so?
Simply because, we are all together in this!
We are all one nation.
There is no “us” and “them” mentality.
There is only “us” – citizens of the same nation – Canadians.
And if there is anything that will negatively impact any of my fellow citizens, it is my religious duty to act and protect them.
Yes, we are all together against terrorism because terrorism affects us all.
Furthermore, Muslims are often a double target: first, directly by the terrorists themselves and second, in the aftermath of terrorist plots or actions that drag our Muslim name and our Islamic faith through the mud.
I am very concerned about the safety of my fellow citizens as well as the image of the Canadian Muslim community and Islam.
Let me share with you what Canadian Muslims believe regarding terrorist plots and terror against our nation and its people, or against anyone for that matter.
I am not an expert in terrorism and I will not talk about it.
I will talk about something that I know for sure and that I sincerely and wholeheartedly believe in.
I will speak about the perspective of my faith on the matter.
This terror plot cannot, in any way, be viewed through the prism of the religion of Islam (or any other religion).
Any association of criminal terror minds with faithful, law-abiding Canadian Muslims is an insult to us and our faith.
Our faith condemns terror and murders as reprehensible acts, and it upholds that such acts are totally outside the domain of Islam.
At the heart of Islamic logic and ethics — a logic and ethics inseparable from true faith — is the sanctity and dignity of human life.
God Almighty says in the Qur’an that to kill one human being (a nafs, or soul) is tantamount in sin to killing all of one’s human brothers and sisters (Qur’an 5:35),
God upholds the sanctity of life as a universal principle, as He says in the Quran: “…and do not kill one another, for God is indeed merciful unto you” (4:29).
Could the Divine voice be any clearer than that?
Any opinion that contradicts this core Qur’anic logic has no value to Islam whatsoever.
It is not the belief system, therefore, that fuels the terrorists’ horrific plans and decisions to spread fears and to murder people.
The festering core of their anger, confusion, and frightening behaviour is not rooted in their devotion to Islam (the word itself means to be “in peace”).
Rather, they do not know how to be good Muslims.
Their troubles stem from a stubborn inability to reconcile a distorted worldview of Islam (if they have any) with the challenges — and myriad opportunities — of living as a Muslim in contemporary democratic liberal societies and modern times.
The sad reality is that the terrorists we read about in the headlines in so many national papers or hear about on almost every news channel do not plan to terrorize people and violently lash out because they are Muslims.
They act the way they do because they do not know how to be faithful believers of Islam in the here-and-now.
As a result, their response to the inability to act properly as Muslims completely defies — and defiles — Islamic logic.
The terrorists’ ignorance of the faith they profess (whatever that faith may be) is evidenced by their inability to deal properly with challenges and communicate openly with those they disagree with.
They fail to grasp the concepts of dialogue, mutual respect, power-sharing, and the loving patience to understand the changes and challenges that dominate (for example), conflict, diversity, globalization, or differences.
They simply cannot relate to 21st-century dynamics.
And so, they finally and tragically explode in a horrifying manner.
If the so-called “terrorist Muslims” described in recent news reports ever imagined how deeply their violent and criminal actions would wound the hearts of fellow Muslims and defile the image of Islam, I am certain they would never have committed such brutal acts.
Unfortunately they cannot imagine, or apparently even consider, the unholy consequences of their actions.
Living in “safe zones” of outdated, even dangerous, states of mind helps no one, especially those who deliberately isolate themselves from mainstream society or work against the same—the society that gave them a platform for prosperity and success.
This segregationist mentality not only prevents them from knowing the world around them, but also cuts them off from self-knowledge and self-growth.
Once people choose isolation as a way of life, they lose key opportunities to improve themselves and to grow in strength as moral, intellectual and engaged human beings.
Instead, they lapse into spiritual retardation; they become handicapped souls.
We often hear portrayals of violence by Muslims as the result of their understanding of the faith they profess.
Their actions don’t have any relation to Islam.
There is nothing in Islam that says that it is okay to kill people just because we don’t agree with them or don’t like them.
Devotion in Islam is not judged on the basis of appearance and what people say; rather, it is revealed in righteous actions – good deeds – that spring from the depths of one’s faith.
Devotion in Islam does not condone violence and harm; rather, it is reflected in a gentle touch, a loving smile, sincere counsel, trustworthy guidance, and unconditional mercy, forgiveness, love, justice at all times.
It is all about selflessness and charity in our relationships with other people. It starts with the closest ones and extends to all brothers and sisters in humanity – all – inclusive.
It is also important for us all – conscious civilized citizens of the world – to stand together against any terror towards any member of our human family.
It is important that Muslims not be demonized and treated as complicit in terrorists’ plots and actions.
They are not!
The importance of this is not because it is good for Muslims, but because our future ability to coexist in peace depends on how we collectively cooperate and treat one another in these difficult and testing times.
And while the plot against Canada and Canadians is one that all Canadians, including Canadian Muslims, find absolutely reprehensible and unacceptable, it is equally incumbent on the Canadian Muslim communities to become even more engaged citizens and continue to take steps to tackle it and eventually totally eliminate it for the benefit of all.
The clear and public rejection of the alleged terror plots, and all acts of terrorism throughout the world, may well be the first step all of us can take to contribute to its total eradication.
Imam Dr. Zijad Delic is the Imam of SNMC (South Nepean Muslim Community) in Ottawa, Ontario.