When tragedy happens whether it is a violent tragedy as the mass shooting in Paris or a police officer unjustly gunning down an African American youth or a social tragedy as poverty and homelessness, we are all being tested. Victims, observers, and even perpetrators are being tested. During adversity we are being asked, “Now, how will you respond?”
Certainly, We shall test you with fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient – those who, when afflicted with calamity say, “Truly to Allah we belong, and truly to Him shall we return” [2:155-156].
As a Muslim, when public tragedy occurs and the news identifies the suspected as Muslims, we cannot help but to think of the implications that it will have for us. With growing tactics of Islamophobia, it is natural to wonder how the public receives news of that nature. But, again we have to remember that this is a test from God and we are being called on to respond from a place of faith.
Each time Islam becomes under scrutiny for some violent attack, there is a tendency for us to place ourselves on the defensive by constantly saying to the world, Muslims are not terrorists and that Islam promotes peace. Outside of the fact the Islam means much more than peace, by responding in this manner, we are unintentionally being apologetic for something we did not do. And in that, means attaching ourselves to something we have no attachment to. This may be driven by a desire to eliminate backlash, which is understandable. But the reality is, those who will choose to use these situations to further their ignorance will do so irrespective of how many tweets or facebook posts there are confirming that Muslims are not terrorists. We do not have to reassure folks about who we are for their comfort or ours or because we fear what someone could do to us.
This is not to say we should not be concerned about the portrayal of Islam. However, the way we represent Islam is by upholding its tenants through correct practice for our Creator’s sake. As Muslims, God tell us in the Qur’an “…And God is the Protector of those Who have faith” [3:68]. We do not have to walk in fear. Yes, it would be irresponsible to be unaware, but to worry- No!
My advice to myself and my other fellow Muslims is to remember that life is a test. Situations will appear to test our faith and test our reactions. Will we use these moments to remember our Lord and reflect on ways we can positively impact society? If we place ourselves in a position of defensiveness or engage in fear, we may miss an opportunity for growth.