Where Our Concern Should Be Right Now – With the Victims, Not the Faith of the Perpetrators of Violence

If you’re Muslim, you can’t help but be thinking, oh God – let it not be a Muslim. Please, don’t let whoever is behind the explosions at the Boston Marathon be Muslim. It crosses most of our minds. I’ll start with myself – from the time I was in college at the University of Maryland in the 1990s and the Oklahoma City bombing happened, to now, it’s the first thing I think when I hear about a bombing – please, don’t let it be a Muslim.

But here’s the thing. That shouldn’t be our primary concern. Shaykh Omar Suleiman, instructor with the Islamic Learning Foundation, Mishkah University and Al Maghrib Institute said it best in his Facebook status:

“I don’t mean this to pick on anyone. I understand the fear of backlash if this attack was perpetuated by Muslims, but our primary concern should be with innocent lives lost.”

That the faith of Christians, Jews or any other religious group is not called so much into question when a terrorist attack is committed by someone of that faith – that is not what we need to focus on (as a commenter on Shaykh Omar’s thread suggested).

Our attention as humans witnessing tragedies around the world should be focused on the victims, their loved ones, first responders and those who help. The questions and investigations will of course happen. Of course we don’t want perpetuators of evil and violence to be associated with our faith, whatever our faith is. As my friend and colleague Elizabeth Scalia, managing editor of the Catholic Channel at Patheos says, anytime she hears of some sex scandal, she immediately hopes it wasn’t a Catholic.

But we are better than that. Let us think of those who lost their lives, who are injured, who are scared. Let us pray for them, for all of us, for violence to end in all its forms.

Another thing to note – comparing media coverage of different tragedies is also pointless at times like these. I read another update on Facebook shared by a friend of mine, from a man named Adham Sahloul, who has family in Syria:

“I will not call this a tipping point for me, but it sure is pretty close:

To those of us on Twitter and Facebook who dare to say “I wish people paid attention to Syria the same way they pay attention to Boston,” shame on us. SHAME on us. We’ve learned nothing, really. There is no competition in pain, suffering, or injustice. Injustice is injustice, regardless of where we are and what we believe. Are we so arrogant as to try to “remind” people, when the dust has not even settled in Boston, or even afterwards? Just how jaded are we? Are we that disconnected from reality and from our immediate lives? America is OUR country; these are OUR fellow citizens; this is OUR family. We should be just as angry, if not more, because this is happening in OUR own backyard.

My prayers to all those in Boston. May God guide us in the right direction and lift this sickness from our hearts. … may God forgive us.”

A friend of mine from the autism community was running the marathon today, as she has done so many times, raising funds for the Boston school that has done so much for her son. She is fine, thank God. Other friends are reporting that their loved ones who were competing or watching the marathon are also fine. But many are not. Two are dead, and latest reports say more than 100 injured.

Let’s send our prayers to them. Let us pray for no more violence.

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