by Imam Azam Akram
As a Muslim Imam (Religious Minister), I find myself in a bind each time an atrocious act against Humanity is committed. Whether it is an act of terror or an act of injustice. That is because my eight years of formal training in the Qur’an, Sunnah, Hadith, and authentic teachings of Islam have no basis for these atrocities. In an act of terrorism, an individual attacked Parliament killing 4 and injuring 40 others. I cannot but take this as a moment of reflection.
There’s a narration, Hadith, of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that binds every Muslim after seeing any sort of injustices, abuse, atrocities being committed to deal with it in three ways: to physically prevent, voice against, or at the very least feel bad about these acts of terror, atrocities, and injustices. Thus as Ahmadi Muslims, followers of true Islam, we condemn this barbarity as un-Islamic and unconscionable. We preach the true Islamic message of “Love for All, Hatred for None.” There is no place for such violence in this world. Our sympathies and prayers are with the people of London and all those affected.
I also try my best to educate and inculcate the virtues of morality and civility taught by Islam to my congregants and non-congregants. It is my binding duty, not as an Imam, nor as a Muslim, but as a human being. If one were to objectively study the life of Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions, you would find stellar examples of how to live with others from different faiths and ideals. The Jews, Christians, Pagans, and Muslims were respected and honored. The Prophet himself who was sitting with a few companions when a funeral possession of a Jew was passing by showed an illustration of respect due to others of different faiths. The Prophet stood up out of respect, in spite of the inquiries of his companions, who’d notified the Prophet that the deceased was a Jew, “Why stand?” In response the Prophet replied, “Was he not a soul?”
The Qur’an unequivocally states, “Whosoever kills an innocent…it is as if he has killed all of mankind” (5:33). It is statements like these and many more that deranged beings who commit such atrocious acts fail to comprehend. Islam is in the business of conquering heart, through reason, dialogue and understanding. We are commanded, “And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge.” (6:109) Muhammad (pbuh) had taught his followers to seek knowledge wherever they may find it (and from whomsoever), for it is a lost treasure of a believer. Thus the ties of humanity predicate that we come together on a common platform, getting to know and educate ourselves of each other, for we have been created with our similarities and more importantly, uniqueness. (49:14) Without this pursuit of understanding and recognizing of each other, the vacuum of ignorance and intolerance is without limits.
The city of London holds a very special place in my heart. I’ve visited it over thirteen times. It’s a city like no other, with its history and unique reliance. It is also the city that gave refuge to the Khalifa of Islam, after he was persecuted in his own country. This wonderful city is the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and where the worldwide head of the community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad resides. His Holiness has time and again condemned violence in the name of Islam and championed a path to world peace by expounding on the true teachings of Islam. He states, “One who sheds the blood of the innocent has nothing to do with Islam & its Prophet.”
Here in the U.S., the community has dedicated itself to this mission of promoting understanding and breaking down barriers. As the oldest organized Muslim Community in America, we are working on the #MeetAMuslim campaign, where members take to the streets to answer any questions non-Muslims may have about Islam and its true teachings. I am fortunate in the sense that I am the Imam of one of the oldest standing mosques in America: Al Sadiq mosque located in the south side of Chicago on 4448 S. Wabash Ave. This was the community that welcomed us back in the 1920’s and it flourished. The south side is notorious in the media for its record crime rates, but this is where we have been a staple in the community, trying earnestly to make a difference with the guidance of Islam. I humbly would like to encourage you to attend our coffee, cake and Islam programs held every Tuesday night from 7pm-8pm.
I wish to end with Islam’s version of the golden rule, a Hadith that states, “Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.” (Abu Dawud)