My view: In the name of God?

Written by: Khosrow Semnani, posted in the Deseret News

Today there are burnt out homes in a small village in Nigeria. The fathers murdered. One hundred eighty-five women and children kidnapped.

In Pakistan today, there are empty classrooms filled with bullet holes, blast patterns from suicide vests and the blood of 132 innocent children, most between the ages of 12 and 16.

What feelings can anyone have looking at such scenes but horror and shock? What depths did the perpetrators have to go to in order to carry out such carnage? How much hate does it take to cause someone to do such things?

The perpetrators of both atrocities appeal to religion to justify their barbarity. The Boko Haram organization in Nigeria and the Taliban in Pakistan proclaim themselves as followers of Islam. Their acts, however, prove the opposite.

The Koran says: “O you who believe! Be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice, and let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety” (Koran 5:8). It says that whoever kills someone “it is as though he slew all men” (Koran 5:32).

As a Muslim, I utterly condemn such acts. The terrorists say they are committing their massacres in the name of Islam, but it is not in the name of Islam. It is hard to come up with language that can express this with enough strength to match my feelings.

Part of the reason these groups adopt terrorism is precisely because they are so small and weak. They have little to no influence on the vast majority of the world’s 1.57 billion Muslims who recognize immediately that they are not of Islam. Without terrorism, their message of hate is confined to a few hundred or thousands and would die off. To be heard, they spread terrorism.

There is no more reason to take the word of people who kill children that they are followers of Islam any more than if they said they followed Christianity or Buddhism. Their acts are in direct contradiction to the teachings of Islam. People who have political, economic and aspirational goals will use whatever they can, including the name of Islam, to accomplish their cynical desires.

But what can be done to counteract what seems to be turning into a one-upmanship of horror among these groups? The voice of the majority must be heard. This means that all Muslims must speak out and condemn the hate and killing. This means all must join in that condemnation. Silence is not an option.

And, above all, we must be on guard to not allow hate into our own hearts. If the terrorists can divide us, they will have succeeded. Muslims, Jews, Christians and other people of peace and goodwill must stand together.

Khosrow B. Semnani is a Utah businessman and a member of the Muslim faith community