Responding to the Woolwich attack

I was sickened to hear the news of the now infamous Woolwich attack, and I’m amazed at how truly disturbed these perpetrators are. This further illustrates the lack of knowledge and miseducation amongst some Muslims on their own religion. When all of the ulema (scholars) unanimously condemn these type of murders, how does a Muslim think that this is acceptable and pleasing to Allah? The neo-Kharajites have seriously gone off the deep end. They seem to be only moved by rage and resentment. All of the nuance and wisdom of Islam is thrown out the window in their desire for revenge. What makes this murder even more bizarre is its gory nature. Instead of killing quickly or efficiently (which would still have been a despicable crime), these guys felt the need to chop someone up with knives. What’s next for these so-called “jihadis”? Dismemberment? Cannibalism? How brutal must they prove themselves to be? My mind is blown by how coldly they conducted themselves, and how ignorant they were to Islamic laws of conduct, even in the battlefield (which the streets of the UK is certainly not part of). Have they been possessed by Shaytan (Satan)? Have their hearts been completely hardened? Only Allah knows if this is the case, but I can’t wrap my brain around the mentality that would lead one to think an act like this is service to God.

Some notable responses to this brutal murder from the Non-Muslim perspective come from Glenn Greenwald (of course) and Russell Brand (yes, that Russell Brand). Greenwald continues to ask tough questions that should make us all think. In this piece he points out the flimsy definition of “terrorism”, which apparently now means any killing committed by a Muslim. Well, it’s not quite to that point yet, but it’s clear that in the immediate aftermath of the Woolwich attack the question of whether this was terrorism or not was really, “Were the perps Muslims or not?”

Brand argues against the English Defence League and their use of this event to further their propaganda against the Muslims of the UK. Although he does not give the Qur’an its proper due when making one of his analogies and seems to gloss over that “piddling little bit in Leviticus”, Brand does show surprising insight:

What I think is that all over our country – all over our planet – there are huge numbers of people who feel alienated and sometimes victimized by the privileged and the powerful, whether that’s rich people, powerful corporations or occupying nations. They feel that their interests are not being represented and, in many cases, know that their friends and families are being murdered by foreign soldiers. I suppose people like that may look to their indigenous theology for validation and to sanctify their, to some degree understandable, feelings of rage.

The best response I’ve seen from the Muslim community is from Shaykh Abu Aaliyah Shurkeel. In his crucial essay, “Terrorism is to Jihad as Adultery is to Marriage”  he eloquently illustrates the evil and un-Islamic nature of this type of violence. I think the title alone is brilliant, but the content is even more compelling.

“…the chorus of condemnation from Islam’s textual sources and religious authorities, against acts of terror, must continue to ring out urgently and loudly. If we wish to be dissenting voices on any issue of domestic or foreign policy, we must find legitimate ways within the democratic process to voice such dissent…It is to their credit that Muslim scholars, despite differences between them on a whole array of theological and legal issues, have come out so unanimously against terrorism.”

May Allah guide our ummah to a clearer understanding of our religion, and give us wisdom. Ameen.