What Happened in Vegas Won’t Stay in Vegas unless…

las-vegas-2696114__480I was asked by my friend and the executive director of our Interfaith Council, Rev. Will McGarvey to speak at a vigil in Concord, California to honor the memories of the victims of Las Vegas shooting that took place on Sunday October 01, 2017. He asked me to reflect on it from a Muslim perspective.

As I started to think about what I was going to say, I started thinking: Is there really a Muslim perspective? I quickly realized the Muslim perspective is the same as the Christian perspective, which is the same as the Jewish perspective, which is the same as the Hindu and the Sikh and the Atheist perspective.

The Qur’an does say that, anyone who kills an innocent person, it is as if he killed the entire humanity. Conversely, if anyone saves a life, it is as if he saved the entire humanity.[1]

There is only one perspective- the human perspective. As humans, we mourn the losses of our fellow humans and fellow citizens. We react with horror, grief and mourning for the victims and their families. That is an inborn trait. We are hard wired that way. That is a normal reaction regardless of what religion, ethnicity or race we belong to, and regardless of which religion, ethnicity and race the victims belong to. Our reaction to the terror attack is the same.

And yes, this was a terror attack.

You don’t have to believe me. Just ask the 20,000 plus attendees of the festival. Ask the 500-plus concert attendees who were injured. Imagine how the 58 victims must have felt before they left us. Have you seen the videos of the carnage?

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I saw terrified people running for their lives. I saw fear in the eyes of the first responders and the helpers. If they were terrified, it is a terror attack- end of conversation.

We have to ask ourselves why does this keep happening? How much more can we endure? How many more people have to die from gun violence before our congress takes some meaningful action to curb this cycle where military style weapons of mass destruction are used with ease.

And we attacked Iraq in 1991 accusing them for storing weapons of mass destruction.

Did we not learn from Columbine? Did we not learn from Orlando shooting? We for sure thought after the Sandy Hook gun violence killing innocent elementary students that our congress will spring into action to pass some laws to prevent these military-style weapons to fall into the wrong hands. I recall several polls showing at that time that more than 90% of the Americans favored some type of gun control laws.

The congress did nothing.

gun-control-1422577__480They did not listen to over 90% of Americans.

They listened to one of the most powerful lobbies in America- the NRA. The second amendment came to their rescue as an excuse, as if the majority of Americans were asking to undo the 2nd amendment.

If we are serious about preventing future mass shooting, we must ask our elected officials to pass laws to curb proliferation of military style weapons. I don’t care if they are Republicans, Democrats or Independent, they must listen to the wishes of the people who elected them. If they know they won’t be back in the office, I can guarantee you they will listen to the people. The problem is that they keep acting the way they do and we keep re-electing them.

I fully understand the strict gun control laws will not prevent all gun violence. I also understand gun are not the only lethal weapon used by terrorists. But if we can prevent even one innocent life, then that will be well worth it.

If we don’t take action, if our congress does not take meaningful action now, I am afraid this is not the last time we are hearing about a mass shooting. Another terror attack will happen again and we will be gathering again for another vigil, or others may be gathering for a vigil for us!

If we don’t act and if our congress does not act, then unfortunately whatever happened in Vegas will not stay in Vegas.

[1] The Qur’an 5:32

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