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Sunday, April 9th, 2017 – Today as Christians around the world observe one of the holiest days of the year on Palm Sunday, powerful bomb blasts struck packed Coptic Christian churches in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt in an assault claimed by ISIS.
The timing and brutality of the attacks are shocking and no words can express our grief and outrage over once again attacks against the sanctity of not only houses of worship which Islamic law declared sanctified, but the violation of a holy day that is dear to all Christians.
Once again these attacks show the level of depravity and inhumanity which has characterized ISIS time and again. As Muslims, people of all faiths, and leaders across the world swiftly and fully condemn these attacks, we reaffirm the following values and principles that are central to our religious understanding and practice:
- We affirm and uphold the sanctity of all human life, the taking of which is among the gravest of all sins.
- We affirm the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and speech.
- We affirm the right to security in one’s livelihood, profession, and residence.
- We believe that God created us with all the diversity of race, religion, language, and belief to get to know one another, not to despise or hate one another.
- We believe that Islam is above all a religion of peace and mercy, and that Muslims are obligated to model those traits in their lives and characters and to work for the good of our homeland and society, wherever that might be.
The three Abrahamic faiths share a long tradition and commonalities that are affirmed by numerous Quranic verses. In fact the Qur’an refers to Jews, Christians and Muslims as People of the Book, and repeatedly affirms respect for religious diversity and pluralism as clearly emphasized in the following verses:
“For each of them, We have established a law, and a revealed way. And if God wished, God would have made you a single nation; but the intent is to test you in what God has given you. So let your goals be everything good. Your destiny, everyone, is to God, Who will tell you about that wherein you differed.” (5:48)
“And had thy Lord so willed, He could surely have made humankind one people; but [He willed it otherwise, and so] they continue to hold divergent views, except those to whom your Lord has shown mercy. And it is for this that God created them.” (11:118-119)
“The Muslims, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the last day and do good have their reward with their Lord. There is nothing for them to fear; they will not sorrow.” (2:62)
“…Among the people of scripture is a community that is upstanding; they read the signs of God through the hours of the night, prostrating themselves. They believe in God and the last day, and they enjoin what is fair and forbid what is repugnant, and they race to good deeds; they are among the righteous. And whatever good they do, they will not be denied it; God knows the conscientious.” (3:113-115).
The Qur’an specifically mentions houses of worship and the imperative to safeguard them and worshippers in the following verse:
“Had God not restrained one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, temples and mosques wherein God’s name is oft-mentioned would have been destroyed.” (Qur’an, 22:39-40)
Today we stand together in solidarity against the forces of hate and evil who attempt to promote their intolerant vision of humanity and spark divisions among us based on their twisted world vision. We pray that instead that such heinous acts instead inspire us to greater love, interfaith understanding and harmony and the turmoil, violence, and pain in the world may evoke in us compassionate hearts and compassionate action, not anger, fear, or frustration.