Thursday’s fatal shooting at Fort Hood military base in Texas, in which 12 people were killed and over 30 wounded, would be horrific under any circumstances. But the reported identity of one of the shooters killed, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, is only going to make things worse. The 39 year-old is a reported convert to Islam, which will make religion the prism through which this act of murder is viewed.
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was reportedly troubled by his impending deployment to Iraq. Mental instability and depression has resulted in violence within the armed forces before. But unless Hasan left an explicit message to that effect, a religiously-inspired political act of violence is, much as we’d be unwilling to admit it, entirely plausible. With that in mind, Muslims will have to ask themselves some difficult questions as to why there are still those among us who continue to find justification for acts such as this in their faith.
Until then, American Muslims should consider this an act of betrayal and treachery, regardless of the political sphere surrounding America’s wars overseas. It is clear that Islam does not condone (if we must entertain the killer’s possible motives) any sort of extrajudicial punishment. It is also clear that any scholarly consensus on the matter has not been communicated widely enough, particularly – it must be said – with those who may be new to the religion.
Unfortunately, current active-duty Muslim servicemen and women will have to try even harder in the wake of this shooting to prove their loyalty to their fellow soldiers. It must be said that dozens of Muslim-Americans have already given their lives in the service of their country just in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to offering our condolences to the families of the fallen, we must reassert our solidarity with Muslim-Americans currently in the services who don’t deserve to face hostility from two fronts.