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OPEN LETTER

By Nov 16, 2015

Zaytuna

Salaam alaykum.

On behalf of everyone at Zaytuna College, I want to express our deepest sympathies to all the people of France, many of whom are Muslims, in the wake of these horrific criminal acts inflicted upon the people of Paris, and by extension, upon people throughout the world. Any act of violence against innocent people is an act of violence against all innocent people. Security is a great blessing of civil society, and to intentionally undermine that security is an act pleasing to the Devil alone.

In the wake of the carnage in Paris, some will no doubt say that the violence inflicted upon predominantly Muslim countries by Western governments, with their bombs and drone strikes is the same thing. There are problems with such a line of reasoning, not the least being the aphorism that two wrongs don’t make a right. At this time, it is inappropriate to bring up past grievances, and altogether appropriate to simply feel the pain of our fellow human beings in France, not to mention those suffering across the world from senseless violence. Paris is yet another addition to the long list of places wracked with mayhem and misery.

Our hope is that this pain and torment we are witnessing will transform us and make us more empathic people, allowing us to truly sense, in a personal manner, the grief and sadness that now afflicts people in so many places across the world: Crimea, Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Greece, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Darfur, Chad, Mali, Myanmar, and the list goes on.

These painful moments should also be moments of reflection on how we ought to respond collectively. Should we fight back in a “merciless” and “pitiless” manner as the French President, in a perfectly understandable moment of agony, expressed? Or should we respond with empathy, love, and charity to counter the hatred that fueled these horrors? By this, I don’t mean toward the heinous thugs who unleashed the bloody terror across Paris, but rather toward the innocent victims living under the cruel conditions – conditions which also engendered these horrific responses from those whose heads were already filled with hate, and who needed only the stones to strike the cold flint of their easily inflamed hearts.

At such a time, it is worth recalling what Aeschylus, the great Greek playwright of tragedies, wrote about war-torn Greece:

 

 

“Wisdom comes through suffering.

Trouble, with its memories of pain,

Drips in our hearts as we try to sleep,

So men, against their will,

Learn to practice moderation,

With a grace that come to us from God.”

 

Hamza Yusuf

President, Zaytuna College

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