The July 7 bombings in London led imams and other Islamic religious leaders and government officials across the world to release statements denouncing terrorism and vowing to confront religious extremism. Muslims went beyond just condemning the attacks; they also took and continue to take active steps to combat extremism and the exploitation of religion for violent political purposes.
According to the teachings of Islam, Muslims are those who live their lives based upon the principle of moderation. According to the Holy Quran 25:70, "One who kills a person will find his place in Hellfire unless he reaffirms his faith, seeks God and his victims' forgiveness and lives a life of good deeds."
The Holy Quran clearly declares that killing an innocent person was tantamount to killing all mankind and, likewise, that saving a single life was as if one had saved the life of all mankind. This is both a principle and a command.
The social culture of Islam is based on the principle of inviting people toward good, courteously and wisely. We are firmly of the view that these killings had absolutely no sanction in Islam; nor is there any justification whatsoever in our noble religion for such evil actions.
It is our understanding that those who carried out the bombings in London should in no sense be regarded as martyrs. In fact, Muhammad, the last prophet and messenger of God, warned his community, "Beware of extremism in religion."
The vast majority of Muslims heed this advice, although their voices are not given the same attention as those who commit atrocities in the name of Islam. Consequently, these hardworking, taxpaying citizens also have been victimized by the London attacks. The American Muslims are victims, because through the intense media attention, the seeds of distrust are created among people.
Some of this distrust already has translated into hate-based attacks. Numerous reports have been coming in from across the world of hate-based crimes against Muslims or those perceived to be Muslims, including locally.
Defaming Muslims and Islam is not limited to regular American citizens but includes conservative U.S. lawmakers such as Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who suggested that Washington respond to a future Islamic terror attack by bombing Muslim holy sites. When asked if he was "talking about bombing Mecca," he reportedly replied, "Yeah."
I ask you in the name of humanity, who committed the Columbine attack? The Oklahoma City bombing? The Waco cult fire? World War I and II? Killing thousands of Muslims in Bosnia? How about drive-by shootings and homicides in our own city? Abortion clinic deaths? Were the Crusaders Muslims? No.
Past and current history is full of terrorist attacks that are not committed by Muslims; however, current propaganda's goal and objective is to paint Islam as a religion of terror.
The Islamic Society of Wichita urges the media to refrain from character assassinations of our reputable religion and prophet of God Muhammad.
We, the Islamic Society of Wichita, restate our resolve and commitment to work toward nurturing an identity that is true to its faith and its rights and responsibilities of all citizenship. It is the hope of American Muslims that through improved understanding and dialogue, the public will be able to distinguish between the sentiments of a majority of Muslims and those of a fringe element.
Nabil Seyam is spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita.