Some Thoughts on Massacre of Muslim Worshippers in Christchurch
“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory.”
– Howard Zinn
Late American historian and distinguished scholar of peace, justice and humanity
Tragic Insanity at Place of Worship
Killing innocent people undoubtedly is a heinous crime against humanity. The global political consciousness is obsessed with terms like ‘terrorism’, ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘extremism’, knowing neither its reality nor how and why it is happening across the globe. The 21st-century global humanity is conscientious as to how some political propagandists feed people with false flags and imagery to incite hatred, violence and human destruction in societies having liberal democracies. Often leaders make or break the abstract imagery of the merchants of catastrophic evils with racial overtones as if colour and ethnicity are superior to the equality of human norms. The Christchurch killer Brenton Tarrant was greeted at the Al-Noor Mosque entrance with “Assalam-o-Alaikum brother” (Welcome to peace, brother), but this savage, blood-thirsty man gunned down the very person who welcomed him to the mosque. Tarrant live-streamed his callousness and insanity on social media for more than 30 minutes to ‘entertain’ millions of sick minds with cruel ‘revenge’ on the innocent Muslim worshippers. The men of God had no idea what was in waiting for the ultimate insanity to be performed.
This terrorist attack reflects hatred and inhumanity in its worst form and action. Not surprisingly, Tarrant’s ‘manifesto’ corresponds to the prevalent policies and practices of the far right white supremacists in the Western societies as it does to the stance of President Donald Trump. The attacker believed that Muslim refugees were there to take over the European culture and civilization. Islamophobia is not an abstract phenomenon; it is a highly organized sociopolitical pursuit in many Western cultures and is aimed at dehumanizing the Muslim population with unrelenting fear and hatred. Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man) said it wisely: “Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of Government. … and instead of seeking to reform the individual, the wisdom of a nation should apply itself to reform the system.”
We the People vs. We the Humanity
As informed, rational global citizens, we look for, out of this unexcitable shadow of darkness, the unity of human consciousness in situations of abnormal crisis and bloodshed. An ideal specimen of humanity and compassion was extended by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, who took immediate action to protect the beleaguered Muslim community with sympathy, understanding and protective measures. It was convergence of all humanity on shared moral and religious sentiments that we are ‘One Humanity before God’ and that benevolence and freedom of worship unites us in bonds common across the universal landscape. Contrary to the attacker’s imagination and plan, the people of New Zealand, Australia, UK, Canada, USA, Turkey, Pakistan and Russia, as well as the Scandinavian countries and other parts of human civilizations poured in condolences and resolved that the mosque’s killings were a despicable act of terrorism that is unjustifiable and unwarranted in the civilized world. The global reaction appeared rational in a spirit of universal compassion and understanding.
What motivated the attacker to target Muslim worshippers at the two mosques in Christchurch? The answer lies with a thorough police investigation currently in progress, but the agenda and the manifesto of the attacker (sent to the Kiwi Premier) leaves no room for speculation except the reality of the Islamophobia pretext. An important feature of the world we live in today is that all human actions are interconnected to the socioeconomic and political environment that we encompass. Our thoughts, faculties and values are the possession and means by which we compose our outlook, behaviour and priorities. If the attacker was inspired by the overwhelming Western pursuit of “Islamophobia,” and he wanted to secure some hallmarks by acts of sadistic brutality against the innocents, he was wrong and foolish. His action instead created a global will and resilience to be united against the perpetuated evil and insanity. In fact, it revived a moral and intellectual capacity and passion to stand against the evil-mongering, white supremacy and religious intolerance. Agreeably, the notion of evil does have an idea of force and power across the 21st-century world. We have seen it happening in America under Trump administration, and also in Eastern Europe during the recent refugee and migrant crises.
Are We Seeing a Decadent Human Culture?
Recall that during the two World Wars in Europe, millions and millions innocent civilians perished in aerial bombings, political tyranny and forced displacements. History is living, not dead. We, the conscientious and informed citizens of the 21st-century, must realize to eliminate insanity, tyranny of destruction, ethnic conflicts and religious bigotry. Prophet Moses (AS), Prophet Jesus (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preached the unity of mankind, respect and tolerance in adversity. None of the Messengers of God taught evil, intolerance and disrespect against the believers. If we are witnessing it in the 21st-century liberal democracies and immature leadership, it cannot flatten the moral, intellectual and political landscape as “No Man’s land” of the white supremacists; be it in America, NZ or elsewhere. Violence, killings and maltreatment of the citizens cannot be transformed into virtue of democracy or clash of fanaticism disguised in any political ideals of the individuals, political agendas or the so-called leaders. There is nothing good in evil for the mankind and it does not correspond to the nature of things within the universe that we co-exist in except thoughts, shapes and forms of individual human behaviour. It was an overwhelming ethnic and religious hatred against the believers at the two mosques. Sanctity of human life and its sole purpose must be preserved. Brenton Tarrant should have known that Islam teaches respect, compassion and honour for the faithful in religions like Judaism, Christianity and others. It reminds Muslims that they are all equal before God – the followers of Abraham (AS), Moses (AS), Jesus (AS) and Muhammad (PBUH) — and it is one religion, one Ummah (Nation) to whom God enlightened with the divine revelations, be it the Torah, the Bible or the Quran. You are one nation in the sight of your Creator. The focal message of Islam (Al-Qur’an, Chapter 2:136) highlights the essence of natural bonds:
“Say ye, We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob; And the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all Prophets from their Lord: We make no difference, between one and another of them: And we bow to God (in Islam).”
Rebuilding Historic Flaws of Moral and Intellectual Gaps?
There are political tensions between the Western powers and Muslim countries that came to the fore in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The “Clash of Civilizations” theory had its own mythological impact. But for centuries, the Islamic world has been the victim of European colonization. Its identity, culture and values were destroyed by the European imperialism and its borders were the outcome of planned European policy of “divide and rule” across the larger part of the Islamic world. Muslims were subjugated to prolonged tyranny of domination and destruction. Those who convientenly blame Muslims and Islam for “extremism” and “terrorism” should rethink and read the living history for truth, honesty and justice. Western doctrines that led to colonization and terrorization of the Muslim people and their culture are unparalleled in modern history. Yet, you will find across the 21st century that Islamic people are open to communication, realist and compassionate to respect others and ready to mend the bitter past for a better future and peaceful co-existence. We need to be people of reason and balance between the obvious competing tendencies of political hegemony of any ethnicity, and equality of all human beings as One before the Almighty God – a common belief and value amongst the Jews, Christians and Muslims of the Abrahamic faith. We are living in a dangerous era of political change and exploitation, and cynicism about politicians is endemic. It is a wake-up call for all believers to show their inner soul and strength that they all stand together in unity and in peace to defeat the white supremacy and its policies and practices to pursue the far-right white supremacy agenda.
Rationality needs objective reasons. Reflecting on the power of righteousness supplemented by demonstration of compassion and understanding that masses of the New Zealand, the churches and synagogues in NZ and Australia, and public gatherings in other parts of the world showed character of magnanimous forbearance and understanding, rejecting the fallacy of Islamophobia and treacherous ambuscade of the attacker that Muslims were problematic in any rational context of contemporary affairs. We the people, especially thinkers and scholars, as bearers of the message of unity, wisdom and benevolence must reciprocate and build a universal capacity to usher an era of peace, compassion and unity for the good of all everywhere – in all mosques, churches and synagogues. All intellectuals, politicians, social thinkers and planners know the encompassing reality and imperatives of rational actions for human unity, societal harmony and peace: “If you think rationally, surely, you will find the solution.” Ferocity of killings, horrors of ethnic supremacy and religious-political animosity have no place in the contemporary world, and are an object of degeneration. Human blood should not be shed upon precarious motto of the white supremacy anywhere or by anybody.
Late Professor Howard Zinn outlined the futuristic imagination of humanity in the following words:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”