New Zealand Attack
5 Things Muslims Must Know
Everyone has heard of the atrocity that took place in New Zealand on Friday the 8th of Rajab 1440, corresponding to 15th March 2019. The harrowing terrorist attack on two Masājid left at least 50 innocent Muslim worshippers killed and scores more injured.
As the dust begins to settle and the world begins to come to terms with this egregious event, below we outline some key lessons to equip Muslims around the world and particularly in the West with the appropriate mind-set moving forward.
1. We have to have Active Patience
We begin by offering our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured. We exhort Muslims to embrace active patience (Sabr), rather than passive patience. The latter is to passively accept the news of a calamity because one is left with no choice; whereas active patience is to internally accept and be content that it happened by Allāh’s pre-ordained decree, thereby attaining the fullest reward. On that form of patience, Allah says in the Qur’ān:
“We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘We belong to Allāh and to Him we will return.’ Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided.” (2:155-157)
All communities are likewise affected by tests of this nature. Shootings at the hands of extremists are sadly commonplace in the world, harming Muslims and non-Muslims. Each and every community has borne a share of this pain. It is, however Allah’s blessing on us that we enjoy comforting hopes of immense rewards and compensation in the hereafter we believe in, something many other communities may not internalise. As Allah says:
“…If you feel pain, they too are feeling it just as you are, but you hope for something from Allah which they cannot hope for. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (4:104)
New Zealand’s victims were killed in the Masjid, the most beloved place to Allah, on a Friday (Jumu’ah), the most beloved day to Allah, during the Salah beloved to Allāh.
May Allah shower them with His immense mercy and elevate their status in Jannah. We also ask Him to give them the best recompense for their families and loved ones.
2. Islamophobia is not new
The first point to note is as the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils elucidated precisely, moments after the event:
“This massacre today is the product of the ever-increasing Islamophobia and marginalisation of Muslims and is a reminder to all concerned, including political leaders and media commentators, of the horrific consequences that an atmosphere of hate and division can lead to.”
Those same white supremacist structures and trends have for decades forced the international community to scapegoat and focus on so-called “Islamic extremism” as a fosterer of terrorism. Countless programmes, schemes, curriculums, conventions and even large-scale military operations have been conducted on the back of this current iteration of the ancient Orientalist myth. Is there an equivalent amount of focus on the driving forces of terrorism committed against Muslims internationally, despite being on the receiving end of most terrorism? Are such anti-Muslim atmospheres and catalysts being criminalised in the same way? Clearly not.
3. We fear only Allah
Despite the first point above, we should not allow fear to penetrate our hearts and reside therein. Such fear is of the worst enemies of man and is a sensation that can destroy them even before anything transpires. Apart from natural, temporary fear, we as Muslims should strive to drive out every other fear existing in our hearts save that for Allah the Almighty:
“Those to whom people said, ‘The people have gathered against you, so fear them.’ But that merely increased their Iman and they said, ‘Allāh is enough for us and the Best of Guardians.’” (3:173)
We should never allow our emotions to take control of our reactions. On the one hand, we should not behave as if we were anticipating such events in order to continue mourning. Some Muslims treat mourning as an objective and presume that the more we mourn, the better and this absolutely wrong.
4. They are not all the same
We should not presume, that all white non-Muslims approve of or celebrate this crime, or allow our words or reactions to emit such an assumption. Yes, there are indeed white supremacists, Christian extremists, Neo-Nazis and others today who hold considerable jealousy and ancient hatred for Islam and Muslims, that has precipitated in acts and policies of barbarism for hundreds of years.
But just as there is a long tradition of hatred of Islam and Muslims in western Europe, there have also been a number of enlightened thinkers, policy makers and average citizens who opposed this shameful history, who are neutral (if not warm to Islam) and desire justice for all—including Muslims.
In the Qur’an, Allah confirms this diversity and cultivates in us this lens of justice when forming our presumptions about members of wider society:
“And among the People of the Scripture is he who, if you entrust him with a great amount [of wealth], he will return it to you. And among them is he who, if you entrust him with a [single] silver coin, he will not return it to you unless you are constantly standing over him [demanding it]. That is because they say, “There is no blame upon us concerning the unlearned.” They tell a lie against Allah while they know [it].” (3:75)
5. Now is the time to reach out
We should utilise this challenge as an opportunity to give Da’wah to non-Muslims. Many are now sympathising with Muslims, others want to know more about Islam; why we gather for sermons and Allah’s worship on Fridays, why we are calling those killed ‘martyrs’ and why we strengthen one another as to their going to a ‘better destination’ despite the grave worldly losses. Now is the opportune time to address this curiosity.
We ask Allah to forgive us and those who preceded us in faith and to shower his mercy and forgiveness on the victims of this horrific atrocity and all of those killed unjustly around the world. Ameen.
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) Council of Muslim Theologians