What does the local Islamic comunity think of the London bombings? This morning's Sunday Star-Times carried a message [offline] from two local Islamic leaders condemning the atrocities and denouncing the misuse of Islam to justify violence:
We believe, as do more than a billion other Muslims, in a faith that teaches us to enjoin good and forbid evil. We share the same respect for human life as do all reasonable people. Yet there are a tiny minority who say they practice the same faith that we do, but whose actions contradict its teachings. We say to them, there is nothing in Islam that can possibly justify taking innocent lives.
The faith and way of life that the overwhelming majority of our co-religionists and follow [sic] is one of justice, mercy and peace. In the Koran, God exhorts Muslims to be patient in adversity, and never to retaliate in anger. Indeed, he tells us to "return good for evil, so that your enemy will become as your closest friend".
Islam is committed to justice and Muslims are obligated to exercise peaceful means to achieve it. Our faith also recognises that a peaceful solution is not always possible, no matter how badly we want it. So if we are attacked by armed combatants, we are commanded to "fight against those who fight against you", as a last resort to defend justice and liberty.
But every possible path to a peaceful solution must be exhausted before taking up arms. When there is no other option, only then are we permitted to engage in an armed struggle for justice. And we simply cannot envisage harming innocent civilians if we must resort to arms. Islam's standards about this are clear and high, and principles are paramount.
It's particularly sickening then to see that four Islamic centres and Mosques in Auckland were vandalised overnight. New Zealand Muslims did not commit the atrocities in London, and targetting them in "revenge" displays exactly the same toxic idea of "collective responsibility" used to justify terrorism. No doubt the hatemongers who committed this petty act of "revenge" believe it is wrong to indiscriminately target Londoners for the actions of their government. But then is it not equally wrong to indiscriminately target Muslims for the actions of those who pervert their religion to justify murder? Responsibility attaches to individuals, not to groups. The perpetrators of these crimes must be punished, but those who merely share their (assumed) religion have no part in the guilt.
We're supposed to be a better country than this, damnit...