By Ishola Balogun
The hearts of Muslims all over the world ache at the heinous attack on Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday. In the video that went viral, Harrison Tarrant, 28, loaded his car with semi-automatic weapon; headed for the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, strapped a camera to his head, and began shooting at anyone who came into his line of vision in the mosques.
In one fell swoop, Tarrant killed more than 40 worshipers at the Al Noor mosque, about seven kilometres away and no fewer than 10 at the Christchurch’s Linwood mosque. Altogether, 50 people were killed, and several others wounded. Many of those killed gave themselves as shield to save others.
For all those killed in the attack, our consolation is that they will earn the ultimate reward in paradise. Just as we can correctly say those who gave out themselves as shield to save others are heroes, all that died in the mosque attack have been martyred. In Islam, martyrdom is one of the great ambitions of a true believer. Before anybody gets any funny ideas into his head, let me explain that martyrdom does not include suicide or anything related to it. This is because taking your own life in the first place is an unforgiveable sin. Killing others who have not waged a war against you is also a massive sin.
These 50 Muslims have been martyred and abundant rewards await them.
“And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision. Rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, and they receive good tidings about those [to be martyred] after them who have not yet joined them – that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. They receive good tidings of favor from Allah and bounty and [of the fact] that Allah does not allow the reward of believers to be lost.” (Q3:169-171)
But why so much hate against Muslims around the world in spite of the peace and love they share with others except some few deviants who may not pass as Muslims?
Harrison Tarrant though pulled the trigger of his modern weapon alone; he is certainly not alone in his hatred of anything called Islam. Those who failed to call the killer by its proper name – a terrorist, but rather paint it as white supremacist, are not only showing a jaundiced prejudice but a horrific hate against Islam.
It is this same ideology that motivated a right wing extremist who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011 that has spread around the globe.
The white supremacists have proven to be no less dangerous than the ISIS or the Boko Haram insurgents. They maim, cause grief and anguish to people, and their actions result to mass murder. In fact, white nationalists are racists and bigots impelled by fervid and chronic intolerance. What else does ISIS do that is not a stock in trade of the so-called white nationalist supremacists? Absolutely nothing! It is those who have ugly dislikes for different races, cultures, and religion give a narrative of violent ideology to justify their white supremacy. If not, why should anyone claim he is a supreme being to other person?
It is not unexpected that President Trump, against the backdrop of his Travel ban policy on Muslims to the United States, and his wall project against immigrants, yet, it is stupefying that at this time of monumental grief, Mr. Trump, on that same day, commenting on the development said he does not regard white nationalism as a problem. Eighty to 90 per cent of the victims of New Zealand Mosque attack were immigrants. Although he has come under severe criticism by his countrymen, but his message to the world will not help to reduce the trend.
If an Abdullah anywhere in the world kills one person, he gets his second name from the bigots as Islamic terrorist but when a white man kills in the name of racial or religious discrimination, he becomes a white supremacist and a world leader will not have any problem with such appellation.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve and are all same. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white; none have superiority over another before the Creator except by piety and righteousness.
In March 2017, Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people on Westminster Bridge when he mowed pedestrians down and also stabbed a police officer who was on duty in front of parliament. He was immediately tagged a Muslim terrorist.
But now, Harrison Tarrant is an “an angelic boy,” (described by a section of UK media); nothing but a gunman, and above all a white nationalist supremacist (by the United States).
Terrorism, no matter the shape, and no matter the nation, must be collectively rejected and condemned the same way we condemn others.
While President Trump said he has no problem with white supremacist ideology, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison did not only describe the horrific incident as terrorist attacks, they have also vowed to treat it so. The dangerous side of the message of Mr. Trump is that racism at the top of society can create a permissive environment for extremism.
As we continue to grieve and try to come to grips with this barbaric atrocity, it is imperative that Muslims all over the world pray for the repose of the souls of those martyred. No doubt, the implications of the massacre for the families affected and the broader Muslim community will last a very long time and so, we beseech Allah to grant their families the serenity to bear the loss. It is indeed trying times for the Muslims and we must not relent in our daily prayer for them. If the intention is to stop the spread of Islam, or make the Muslims objects of hate, the sinister motive failed from conception, it will not shake the faith of the Muslims, it will rather embolden them more than ever before. Muslims have been by far the most victimised group by terrorism especially in the post-9/11 era, but Islam will continue to thrive even in the face of persecution.