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At times like these, people of faith and goodwill need to offer hope—a difficult challenge when our nation faces mass shootings that have become almost routine, and still more when religion, however perverted, appears as a potential driving force behind them. Just last week, a gunman seemingly motivated by a twisted notion of Christian values, took four lives at a Planned Parenthood clinic; and now a young couple, apparently influenced by ISIS’ horrifying perversion of Islam, have senselessly killed or wounded dozens of people in San Bernardino, CA.
Yet all the world’s spiritual traditions do offer hope. Facing up to humanity’s potential for evil—whether they call it “sin,” “ignorance,” or some other name—they also insist on the presence within us of a power for good that likewise goes by many names and that has a power greater than any evil can muster. It is in that spirit that we confront the events of these past few days.
We want to call, above all, for people of all faiths or of no religious faith to stand together in rejecting the ignorance and fear that would set us against one another in the name of religion, race, ethnicity, politics, or any other factor that draws boundaries between us. We must remember, and act on, our common humanity that transcends anything that may divide us.
Acting from our sense of shared humanity is above all essential in confronting terrorism in all its forms. Terrorism is rooted in anger and fear—anger (sometimes quite legitimate in itself) at perceived injustice, and fear of an Other perceived as threatening the core of one’s being. Succumbing to, let alone promoting the growth of, anger and fear is, therefore, precisely what we must avoid when terrorism confronts us. Otherwise we shall merely produce an endless cycle of mutual retaliation, as victims and perpetrators feel ever more justified in their anger and fear. Only a solidarity that moves across all the dividing lines of race, religion, nationality, and ideology can break that cycle.
As we head into winter time in the northern hemisphere, we see cultures and faiths across the world celebrating the triumph of light over darkness. The oil used by the Macabees outlasted its physical capacity to light up the darkness of the nights, Jesus was born in the darkness of the Roman occupation of Palestine, and Ram defeated Ravana against all odds. Our human community has a deep commitment to hope. We have the choice to invest in peace and justice through a stubborn pursuit of hope that lightens the grasp of fear and anger on our hearts and encourages us to look for the good that lives in all of us.
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 we have previously emphasized:
- 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.
ING and ING Affiliates
December 4, 2015
American Muslims Respond:
Fundraiser for San Bernardino Families
A collective of American Muslim leaders and groups have launched an effort to raise funds for the victims’ families. They wish to respond to evil with good, as their faith instructs them, and send a powerful, united message of compassion through action. All fundraising proceeds will help with the immediate, short-term needs of the families, such as funeral expenses. Check out the fundraiser on LaunchGood.
Join the ING Interfaith Allies
(A New Initiative for Getting to Know Our Neighbors)
In light of the latest news, and with Islamophobia spiking in our country and around the world, it is more urgent than ever that people of all faiths and worldviews have opportunities to meet, learn about each other, and stand up together for understanding, respect, and harmony. The ING Interfaith Allies initiative will publicize existing opportunities and highlight new interreligious engagements that involve American Muslims and people of all backgrounds in conversation and dialogue as well as cultural and social events. Express your interest in shaping the vision for this initiative by completing this form. We look forward to collaborating!