Imam Talib Shareef, leader of The Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad, the oldest Muslim community located in the capital of America dating back to the mid 1930s, responds to the Charleston massacre.
We join the President and all right-minded people across the nation who are offering condolences and prayers from the deepest place in their hearts and souls for the immediate and extended families of the nine innocent lives taken. And, as well those lives shaken, shattered and left void, by yet another senseless act of violence, the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC.
We continue to be outraged and troubled by acts of hate, terror, or extremism that gravely disturbs our souls. Nevertheless, it is tragedies like these that cause our collective souls to hurt and care for those affected as one human family. It is these experiences that usher forth the needs of our common life and shine a bright light on our unity and strength as a nation as we respond with a helping and embracive hand. These senseless acts of savage killings are drawing like-minded people together who are collectively using power to comfort, provide hope and secure peace here and abroad.
As some of the headlines read, “A young white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church…,” the immediate conclusion registers a racist act of hate which was met with the department of justice initiating a welcomed and appropriate hate crimes investigation. While “race” was the description used for the gunman, it could have been a “religious” or “ethnic” description. And while this is initially being labeled a hate crime, with a different description used it may have been labeled a terrorist act. Same act against civilians but classified differently, yet the behavior meets that of terrorism. It appears we are creating an environment that doesn’t provide a comprehensive view of the threats due to the seemingly major terrorist problem being those with religious labels, particularly Muslim. While in fact the majority of deadly acts of terrorism committed in the United States are by dangerous, bitter racists and anti-government extremists. In the interest of heightening awareness and protecting human life, consistent references should be used; it’s a matter of our safety.
This was a young man, 21 years of age, the likes of those ill-inspired by groups like ISIL. What group or what misguided sentiment in the society ill-inspired this young man? It is certainly apparent that a racially charged atmosphere has been prevalent in our society. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter who attackers are or what they claim, all acts of violence, whether committed by people claiming a race or faith, or committed against people of different race or faiths, are criminal, inhumane, desperate attempts for legitimacy and recruitment to their causes and are not condoned by civil societies, or by the religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any of the other beautiful faiths. Any person, no matter how desperate their situation, whether real or perceived, there is no justification for them to murder and make helpless, vulnerable innocent humans the target of their terror, their hate or their violence.
There is no excuse and no time, in which such senseless and inhumane acts should be carried out. There is a great deal of pain, frustration, and unanswered questions. As a human and a member of this great nation, I feel it is part of my duties and obligations to assist in any efforts to create an environment that encompasses our shared freedom space, in which such a climate of violence, whatever the motive, does not exist. We will continue to work with our partners in local and federal law enforcement, as well as our interfaith community. Our Acting United States Attorney for the District stated that this horrific attack reminds us of the importance of discussing ways to improve safety, even within the most sacred of places and assemblies.
We must look at these mass killings and learn from them, so they do not continue to occur. Whether it is gun laws, violence in video games, media, magazines, or concerns in areas of mental health; we cannot close our eyes to the signs we are given. Nor can we close our eyes to the roles that our actions, thoughts, words, products, and services play in nurturing the minds of our fellow citizens.
We must continuously ask ourselves what we can do to better ourselves, our communities, and promote change and excellence. All of us should strive for and be motivated by our best human motivations and the best excellence that G-d has created and caused us to inherit from the best of human beings; those who went before us and passed away. If we do that, we will have a better, beautiful and wonderful world.