‘These vile murderers seek to divide our society and instil fear; we will ensure they fail. We implore everyone to unite: we are one community. In the face of such dastardly cowardice, unlike the terrorists, we must uphold love and compassion.’
The words of over 130 Imams and religious leaders from across the UK, who have not only refused to perform the traditional Islamic prayer for the terrorists that killed 7 people in London on Saturday, but have also called on others to do the same, because they say such indefensible actions are ‘completely at odds’ with the teachings of Islam.
‘We are deeply hurt that a spate of terror attacks have been committed in our country once more by murderers who seek to gain religious legitimacy for their actions. We seek to clarify that their reprehensible actions have neither legitimacy nor our sympathy.
‘Though at no time is it acceptable, that such ruthless violence was perpetrated during the season of Ramadan, in which Muslims worldwide focus on pious devotion, prayer, charity and the cultivation of good character, demonstrates how utterly misguided and distant the terrorists are from our faith and the contempt which they hold for its values,’ said the Imams in a statement.
The unprecedented move is a welcome one; the only effective response to the recent attacks is unity against those who seek to end lives, devastate families and rip apart communities.
It will take religious leaders, communities, and governments to work together to root out extremism. United we stand, divided we fall.
Education, too, will play a role, as a conference at NUI Galway will hear this week. UNESCO and counter-extremism organisations have worked with radicalised youths around the world to teach them about empathy, and seen these angry young people instead become peace activists.
Those responsible for the vandalism at Galway’s Maryum Mosque on Monday too would benefit from such ‘empathy education’.