Responding to Reports of Terror Attacks
How Should We React to News of Terror Attacks?
And know that among you is the Messenger of Allah. If he were to obey you in much of the matters you put forward to him, you would face difficulty, but Allah has endeared to you faith (imaan) and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided. (49:7)
Allah Almighty says in Surah Hujarat that He made imaan appealing to the hearts of believers. Equally, mischief is not the characteristic of the believer nor is spreading mischief.
To contain mischief we need to be aware. And to this end, this surah teaches us many about relationships as well as authenticating any news we receive.
‘O you who believe if you receive the news from a wrongdoer, authenticate it, (fatadayan) straight after’
Verify the News
We cannot believe every piece of news we receive. In this ayah, Allah Almighty is describing the reality which we are facing, through political campaigns which are disseminating lies and misinformation, and consistently through irresponsible media reporting. Thus we need to be vigilant, and cannot rush to conclusions the first instance we receive information.
In any case, Allah Almighty tells us not to rush or be hasty in every aspect of our lives, as haste is from shaytan. So we have to be considered in our approach, and act with care and deliberation.
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
The media is quick to jump to conclusions and this is very evident when they immediately brand people Islamist terrorists as breaking news without even having clear details about the perpetrators. Instead of dealing with crimes as crimes, they categorise crimes as terror attacks. Yet the culprits are so often either criminals or mentally unstable, having been in and out of prison, so why are they being defined foremost as Muslims with a subversive agenda?
Don’t Give Undue Publicity to Terrorists
There are several problems with the media’s reporting of so called ‘terror attacks’. Firstly it plays into the hands of terrorists by giving them the publicity they crave. It supports terrorism – giving them 24 hour coverage on every channel. By contrast, during the attacks by the IRA, as journalists have themselves described, media coverage was limited so that terrorists would not receive more publicity than they deserved.
Why do we need to give so much coverage to ISIS? Why give credit to them for crimes which they haven’t even claimed as theirs? A crime is a crime and should be reported as such, not blown out of proportion and used to reflect on an entire community.
Don’t Divide Communities
The sense of hysteria that the media creates spreads fear and hatred in the community. The result is not just a divided community but a loss of plain common sense.
One leader commented after an attack was that the attack was against ‘democracy and our freedom’ Really? You believe this person did this crime because of democracy and freedom? Don’t fool us with such comments. If leaders fail to understand the reasons behind such actions, how do they propose to figure out the solution? When atrocities occur, let’s face our reality with real bravery, and be honest and transparent
To give disproportionate coverage to random acts of idiocy, and to relate them to ‘Islamists’ and ideologies doesn’t make any sense. Unfortunately we have some stupid people in our community, but it’s not the exclusive property of the Muslim community to have such stupid people! It is present in all communities.
Feel Empathy when Atrocities Occur
Our thoughts and our prayers are always with those who lose their loved ones, and those who are suffering from injuries.
Allah Almighty commanded us to respect human life without doubt. It goes with saying that this applies to every single human, not only to every single Muslim. Killing anyone goes against humanity and against common sense as Allah Almighty stated in the Qur’an.
We belong to the human community, all together, and if anyone is suffering here we feel their suffering; if anyone is suffering elsewhere we feel their suffering too. May Allah Almighty unite us, bring our hearts together, and protect our communities from traitors and from sick people.
I still remember a statement by Shaykh al Ghazali said, ‘It’s not necessary to be a traitor to serve the enemies; it’s enough to be an idiot to serve the enemies.’
Though there are have plenty of idiots, unless we are reasonable and understand how to face the threats they pose, we spread the harm.
As Allah Almighty stated that He has beautified imaan in our hearts, we should spread the culture of love in our community. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The best amongst the servants of God, are those who love Allah Almighty and make Allah Almighty more beloved to people’.
The Prophetic Way
We have to present our message in the best form – closest to the prophetic way.
Showing the true message of Islam. Unlike the bad publicity which are all over the place, whether it is Al-Qaeda or ISIS or whatever comes next, it’s an on-going challenge.
The true believer loves imaan and hates, mischief and rebellion. Mischief includes anything that goes against the commands of Allah Almighty and His Messenger (peace be on him), including fake news, spreading rumours, or any criminal acts. It’s embedded in the teachings of the Qur’an, and the sunnah, not to spread mischief, not to be a mischievous person, not to spread corruption.
United in Humanity
We should to come together as a community regardless of our differences- colours, nationalities, backgrounds which is the beauty of the human community – rather than just focusing on any one particular community. We are a human community, so let’s fight the enemy of humanity and this is what would unite us.
Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim
Transcribed by Sana Zuberi
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September 18, 2020
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