Spread the spirit of
Time to seriously tackle racial hatred, hate speeches, Islamophobia, bigotry, racial supremacy, and be united, supportive and loving to all races in human brotherhood
“Assalamu-alaikum”. This is a greeting of peace in Islam. It means “Peace be upon you” It is the greeting of the Muslims at any time of the day or night. (The reply is “Waalaikum salam” which means Peace be upon you, too).
It is heartening for Muslims to hear this greeting coming from a sincere non-Muslim. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used this Islamic greeting in Parliament when she emotionally delved into the recent terror attacks at the two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 Muslims immediately and injured 50 others.
More than a week has passed since the brutal shooting tragedy in the New Zealand mosques, and during this time the world has surprisingly seen the natural inner beauty of the New Zealand people through their outpouring of emotion, support and love to the dead victims, the grieving ones and to all other shocked Muslims around the world.
The focus is also on the country’s Prime Minister who called the day of the mosque massacre as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”, and showed her affection in action by doing lovable and appreciative deeds. She banned gun sales and paid for the burial service of the fallen Muslims, donned the Muslim headscarf, gave prominence to the azan (Islamic prayer call), kissed grieving families, quoted from the Hadith (sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him, and greeted Muslims in the Islamic way: “Assalamu-alaikum” (Peace be upon you).
Consoling and supporting those who live to see their loved ones perish in the tragedy that killed Muslims while they were at prayer at the two Christchurch mosques, the New Zealand Prime Minister began her speech with the beautiful and meaningful Islamic greeting and said she finds it disgusting to mention the name of the person who murdered the innocents in those mosques, and indeed she did not mention his name throughout her address and said she would never want to mention his name.
To most people of the world, Muslims and people of other faiths alike, the perpetrator, himself a foreigner in New Zealand, did a cowardly crime by gunning down unarmed people – the elderly, men, women and children – from their back while they were concentrated in their congregational Friday prayer in a mosque. He said that he did it because of the Muslim “invasion” of western countries but he was certainly unaware that numerous westerners have become Muslims, saying they converted to Islam because of its beauty and logic.
I am happy to see (on TV news broadcasts) New Zealand students performing the haka (Maori) dance to honour the victims of the massacre. I also salute the tens of thousands of white New Zealanders who went to the two targeted mosques to offer condolences and laying flowers and candles at the sites and shedding tears of grief and sadness. Many hugged grieving Muslims, offering their support to them and condemning the depraved act of the gunman.
My wife and I, together with a few family friends, have been to that country (south island) some years ago. New Zealand is not only beautiful but also peaceful. So it was not only a great shock to me but to New Zealanders themselves when the terrorist mowed down men, women and children when they were performing their congregational Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in the city of Christchurch.
The affected Muslims received overwhelming condolences and support from around the world from Muslims and all the good people of other faiths. As for the perpetrator, his aim for heroic bravery and fame backfired.
Jacinda, darling of the Islamic world
The opposite happened. Ms Jacinda Ardern shot to fame with her compassion and love for all people of New Zealand. She became the favourite heroine of the Islamic world with her adorable words and actions. Dubai, giving tribute to her even beamed out an image of a grieving Jacinda from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
One of those who denounced the terror attacks was Mr Fred Dula, a non-Muslim Caucasian from North Carolina, USA. He said: “The Christchurch massacre was an incredibly insane attack on a peaceful people during their prayer time with God. How much worse than that get to be? No one, no matter their religion, should ever have to worry about being attacked at their place of worship. Let’s all say a prayer for those who died or were injured during this most heinous crime.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, quoting the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Islam, said that Islam is a peaceful and compassionate religion, and that the depraved acts of some recalcitrant should not be blamed on the majority of peace-loving followers of Islam.
Embracing unity in diversity and humanity
In Singapore too, condolences poured in. I am also greatly touched by the two New Zealanders who went to two different mosques in Singapore to show their concern to those killed in the two New Zealand mosques last Friday (15 March 2019).
One of them, Mr Graeme Merrall, went to the Al-Falah Mosque near Orchard Road. According to The Straits Times (“NZ duo visited mosques here deeply affected by shooting”, 19 Mar 2019), Mr Merrall said: “I wanted to show solidarity with the Muslims here in Singapore because what happened in New Zealand affects New Zealanders and Muslims globally.”
The other New Zealander is Mrs Kim Forrester who visited the Al-Huda Mosque in Bukit Timah. In condemning the massacre, she said: “There is no place for intolerance in New Zealand and the world.”
A Singaporean, Mdm Azizah Abdul Rahim, said: “My eyes misted reading about those Muslims in the two mosques perish under the hail of bullets from the gunman. May Allah elevate them to be the martyrs. They died on the holy day of Friday in Allah’s House and during Friday prayers. May Jannah (Paradise) await each of the martyrs, In Shaa Allah (with God’s Grace). My deepest condolences to all the affected people of New Zealand and thank you New Zealanders for the outpouring of love and sympathy you have shown during these sad days that shattered the good name of New Zealand.”
In the same 19 March The Straits Times article, Mr K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs and Law, said: “Our prayers are with the victims and their families. It is heartbreaking that people praying in a mosque should be mowed down.”
Singapore, as the world knows, is a beautiful country with its beautiful multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious people living together in unity and harmony – all because Singapore does not allow hate speeches and hate acts to take place. Singapore justice comes hard on anyone attempting to disrupt the peace and harmony that is being enjoyed by everyone living in this small but no-nonsense nation.
Also in the same article, Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob was quoted from her Facebook post as saying: “Hatred against Muslims and immigrants were the causes for the Christchurch massacre. When things go wrong or not as people desired, it is so easy to blame a community or a group instead of analysing the causes more deeply and finding the right solutions.”
She added: “We must stay united and do our utmost to fight against xenophobia and hatred in whatever form.”
Prayers for the dead
All countries in the world need to work together to eradicate terrorism, bigotry, radicalism, Islamophobia, terrorism and hate speeches. It is urgent – think of the children who will hate us adults if we pass the mess that we have created to them. As the world advances into maturity and civility, let us not go backward with narrow-thinking and destroy ourselves. Progress should mean in this civilised time as enjoying peace and harmony among all races in the country, and act fast to curb hatred and killings committed by the few zealots.
All people of Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority countries around the world need to be united, supportive and loving to all races like what we are witnessing happening in New Zealand in the days since the mosque massacre. Salute to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and all New Zealanders for showing the enlightened way.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon), in his “Last Sermon” before he passed away, in the year 633 CE, amongst other instructions and advices, said: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab over Arab, also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white except by piety and good action….Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”
The sermon of the congrgational Friday prayer (on 22 March) in Singapore centred on the terror attacks on the Christchurch mosques. The sermon prepared by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, known popularly as Muis, quoted the Qur’an to show that Islam values lives, thus: If a man kills an innocent person, it is as if he has killed the whole of mankind; but if he saves a life it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind. (Qur’an, 5:32)
Actually “Islam” means “surrender” or “submission” to Allah (the God), and “salam”, which means “peace”, is the root word of “Islam”. The word “peace” itself is mentioned more than 700 times in the Qur’an, the sermon stated.
The sermon went on to highlight the importance of forgiveness as given in the Qur’an and mentioned that “the beauty of the Christchurch incident is that, the families of many of the victims have expressed their forgiveness towards the individual who murdered their loved ones. Subhanallah! (Glory to God!) This, my dear brothers, is the epitome of unity and harmony…”
The Straits Times, 25 March, in “WorldBriefs” mentions that a national remembrance service for the victims of the mosque massacre and their families will be held this Friday (29 March). The brief report quoted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as saying that the service will provide an opportunity for “New Zealanders and people all around the world to come together as one to honour the victims of the terrorist attack.”
A Muslim man, as portrayed in “Spotlight Humanity”, said: “Thank you New Zealand for showing the world how to deal with hate.” Indeed we agree.
We need to spread the spirit of “Salam” (Peace) to the world and be Brother-in-Humanity.
26 March 2019
(Acknowledgements: Most photos were shots of photos from The Straits Times’ articles and screenshot of videos on Youtube used in this article for sharing of wisdom to improve inter-racial relationship.)