As I was sitting in my neighborhood coffee shop the other day, sipping coffee and reading notes for an upcoming test, I got an alert on my my phone. I assumed it would be a message from a friend or maybe even family, but my heart dropped when I glanced over and read what was actually a news alert.
“Attack in London involving a van injuring pedestrians on the London bridge and stabbings in a popular London market. Many have died and others taken to nearby hospitals.” I thought to myself, “Oh no, not again. This is horrible and so unfair.“
It had been only a couple of weeks since the gruesome attack outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and a few months since the attack in Winchester. I pondered about the London attack, read as much as I could about it, and then decided to leave the coffee shop because I could no longer focus on studying for my medical exam.
The next morning an Uber driver pointed out the increasing police presence on a popular beach in Chicago as we drove by. The driver noted that the police patrol was not usually so prevalent. I mentioned it might have been because of what happened the night before in London.
My Uber driver nodded and we grievously discussed the “need for peace“. He questioned why so many attacks have been happening around the world and “for what“?
I did not have an answer for him, but we both agreed the increasing violence around the world was extremely unfortunate and then parted ways. I was not expecting such a morose conversation, but it made me think more about Islam and the horrific attacks carried out in the name of God.
As you may know, it is the holy month of Ramadan. This is an important time of year for Muslims to fast and pray. It is supposed to be an extremely spiritual month for Muslims and the crime rates in many Muslim countries actually drop during Ramadan.
It makes me wonder why so called “Islamic people” continue to harm both Muslims and non-Muslims during this month or any month, while the majority of Muslims focus on fasting, praying and carrying other modern day responsibilities.
It is very clear that the people who wreck horrendous havoc within our communities are radical Muslims who have misinterpreted Islam and its teachings; these are people who would rather harm others, and spread their nonsensical and unethical ideas, than practice and interpret real Islam.
What can be done to prevent such attacks in the future? The majority of Muslims are against terrorism and are frequently the ones being terrorized. How can we build a dialogue of peace and promote modern Islam in the Middle East and around the world? These are questions with complicated answers we have not yet fully formulated or implemented.
However, it is clear that something must be done. We must come together, regardless of our religious beliefs and condemn those who preach terrorism; those who fund it, follow it, and even sympathize with it.
We should also hold politicians and leaders accountable when they carelessly spread fear and Islamophobia by using extremist groups, such as ISIL, to represent all of Islam. Islamic terrorism is immoral and wrong, but so is Islamophobia. Fear is not the answer. Violence against innocent people is not the answer and it never should be.
In recent weeks, it has been incredibly touching to see how Muslim imams in the U.K. have come together to promote peace and condemn terrorism. I strongly believe that Muslims and non-Muslims must continue to work together when tragedies, such as the fire at Grenfell Tower in London, occur.
Despite what some of the media and xenophobic politicians want you to believe, I am a Muslim American and every day I wish for peace. It is truly up to us, all of us, to create a peaceful end to our story.
Editor’s Note: Do you want to learn more about Islam and how you can help strengthen the dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims in your country? Sign up for the Middle East Collective newsletter to get more tips and stories straight to your inbox. Thanks for reading!