I would like to convey my deep condolences to the American people for their grief, which is really the grief of the humanity, due to this terrible tragedy. May God soon heal all the wounds, and protect us from any evil.
My first reaction to this tragedy was to recite a verse of the Qur’an. Islam, the religion of tolerance, holds the human soul in high esteem, and considers the attack against innocent human beings a grave sin, this is emphasized by the following Qur”anic verse: “… whoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption and mischief in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah”s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth” (the Qur’an, 5: 32). In fact, Muslims serve for life, not for death.
We must not forget what the Qur’an states: “Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another” (6: 164). There is a universal rule of law: No one can be punished without evidence. Another important rule: Freedom from guilt is principal, i.e. everybody is innocent unless the opposite is proved.
The Prophet, is reported to have said, “A believer remains within the scope of his religion as long as he doesn”t kill another person illegally.”
The meaning of Islam is “peace.” This signifies that one can achieve real peace of body and mind only through submission and obedience to Allah, and a human being can be a perfect Muslim if he or she lives in peace and harmony with society. Such a life of obedience brings peace of heart and establishes real peace in society at large (the Qur’an, 13: 28-29). All the Prophets of God, who guided man to the right path, preached this message.
The Prophet said: “These three things are also enjoined upon the faithful:
– to help others, even when one is economically hard-pressed,
– to pray ardently for the peace of all mankind, and
– to administer justice to one”s own self.”
The Prophet said: “All mankind is a fold, each member of which shall be a keeper or shepherd to every other, and be accountable for the entire fold.”
“Live together; do not turn against each other; make things easy for others and do not put obstacles in each other”s way.”
“He is not a believer who takes his fill while his neighbor starves. ”
“The believer in God is he who is not a danger to the life and property of any other.”
In short, Islam neglects neither the individual nor society – it establishes a harmony and balance between the two and assigns to each its proper due. The message of Islam is for the whole human race. God, in Islam, is the God of the Universe (the Qur”an, 1:1) and the Prophet is a Messenger for the whole mankind. In the words of the Quran:
“O People! I am but a Messenger from God to you all.” (7: 158)
“We have sent you only as a mercy for everybody in the universe.” (21: 107).
In Islam, all men are equal, regardless of color, language, race, or nationality. We can not deny the fact that such barriers have always existed and will exist in the so-called enlightened age. Islam removes all of these impediments, and proclaims the ideal notion for humanity as being one family of God. Islam is international in its outlook and approach, and does not admit barriers and distinctions based on color, clan, blood, or territory, as was the case before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad.
We, as Islamic scholars, condemn this mischief against human life. Our hearts bleed for the attacks that has targeted innocent people. The haphazard killing where the rough is taken with the smooth and where innocents are killed along with wrongdoers is totally forbidden in Islam. No one, as far as Islam is concerned, is held responsible for another”s actions.
I categorically go against a committed Muslim”s embarking on such attacks. Islam never allows a Muslim to kill the innocent and the helpless. If such attacks were carried out by some Muslims – as some groups claim – then we, in the name of our religion, deny the act and incriminate the perpetrators. We do confirm that the aggressors deserve the deterrent punishment irrespective of their religion, race or gender.
Let us suppose that you were on a ship, or in a house, with nine innocent people and one criminal. If someone were to try to make the ship sink, or to set the house on fire, because of that criminal, you know how great a sinner he would be. You would cry out to the heavens against his sinfulness. Even if there were one innocent man and nine criminals aboard the ship, it would be against all rules of justice to sink it.
We condemn these brutal and criminal acts which are anathema to all human conventions and values and the monotheist religions.
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Akgunduz
Rector, Islamic University of Rotterdam,
Chairman of Ottoman Researches Foundation