[Muneeb Nasir, President of the Olive Tree Foundation, represented the Muslim community at an event on April 19, 2014 in Toronto marking the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. The following are his words of reflection and prayer at the commemoration].
Greetings of Peace, Mercy and Blessings.
We mourn and remember with you, not only for the lives lost, but for your families and all the families that were torn apart.
We are here to support the survivors of the genocide who continue to live with their grief to this day.
Today, we pay tribute to the determined character and graciousness of the Rwandan people.
We admire your strength, perseverance and resilience and now, through your presence in Canada, you witness, you remind, and you inspire us with your story of reconciliation, forgiveness and ability to rebuild your lives.
The images of what took place in Rwanda during the 100 days in 1994 remain etched on our consciousness and rests heavily on our consciences.
The genocide in Rwanda reminds us of the tragedy of broken relations, broken hearts, broken trusts and broken homes.
In my faith tradition of Islam, God says in the Qur’an:
“O People! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other.”
As we reconcile we must build bridges through understanding with each other for it is through understanding that trust is built.
As we acknowledge the gravity of the offences and the gross violations that occurred, we must continually learn how to build and strengthen trusting relationships among human beings – how not to allow the imperial and colonial past to drive us apart and how not to fall victim to that past.
Beyond the measures that have been implemented since the genocide – the R2P and other legal and international measures – the world must also restore the value and sacredness of life into our conscience.
While we are remembering the genocide in Rwanda, we must reaffirm that a human life in Rwanda, in the Central African Republic, in Syria, and in South Sudan is as sacred as any other life.
God says in the Qur’an:
“…. Take not life which God has made sacred.”
We must take away this deeper insight of the sacredness of human life that should lead us to a renewed recognition that we must never be complacent when human life is being taken.
We are pained by the genocide in Rwanda.
We are pained by our weakness and complacency during this genocide.
For this we pray:
O God, inspire us with your divine mercy so that our hearts may be full of compassion, not of anger and the desire for retaliation, that our hearts may be instruments of forgiveness, not of revenge, that we may experience genuine love, not hate.
May we always recall the preciousness of every life and minimize unneeded hurt.
May we always appreciate our deep interconnectedness, as common citizens of one Earth.
We ask for protection for our hearts, lest they become hardened at the sight of suffering,
In all our actions, we ask for compassion for the suffering that surrounds us.
May our own words, as leaders of the faithful, arise from the depth of prayer.
May they never incite or be the source of suffering and violence.
May our words have the power to heal and soothe rather than to incite and inflame.
O God, You are peace and from You comes Peace. Blessed are you, the Majestic and Generous.