A Condemnation of the Ottawa Terror Attack and an Advice to Canadian Muslims
In the Name of Allāh, the Ever Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy
In the name of Allāh to whom belongs all praise, may He make good mention of and bestow peace upon His Messenger.
Yesterday's brazen attack on the Canadian parliament and the killing of an army reservist has caused a shockwave of anxiety and fear across the country. The lunacy and cowardice of the assailant and whoever may be associated with him is beyond words. Details are yet to emerge as to the background, motives and whether there was indeed a network behind the individual identified. This may become clearer in the coming days or like other many acts of terrorism, it may never become clear. Nonetheless, what has emerged is that a Muslim was involved. He was unsuccessful in his bid to storm the parliament building and was swiftly killed. Whether he was mentally ill or not, a practising Muslim or not, the outward reaction by many in society will be: Islām made him do it.
Being aware of all of this, it is important for Muslims who follow the Qurʾān and Sunnah upon the methodology of the pious predecessors to keep the following in mind:
- Qadr Allāh wa mā’ shā’ fa`al - This fateful and evil act was decreed to pass by the Lord of all mankind. It is a trial for all those affected by it and will be a trial for Muslims in Canada at large.
- Do not dwell on reading media reports which often glamorise or chastise for the purpose of selling media. Do not dwell in debating and arguing in comments attached to stories. Do not rely solely on the media to tell you the truth and do not likewise turn to conspiracy theorists to reveal the truth. Simply get on with your life in a positive manner, seeking the pleasure of your Lord daily through righteous actions.
- At this time of increased stress and focus on Islām and Muslims, be proactive. Exemplify the good manners of Islām, show your neighbours, family, co-workers etc. the beautiful code of conduct that exemplifies Islamic manners and morals. Do not shy away and cower; do not be afraid to show your Islām at a time like this, if you do, then groups like ISIS (or any copycat groups) have succeeded in marginalising you in society. Likewise, anti-Islamic movements will be happy with your feeling of ostracisation. When 9/11 happened, we immediately took to the streets of Toronto, wearing identifiably Islamic garments and engaged fellow citizens about Islām, about terrorism, and about ibn Ladin. The reaction was very positive; many people thanked us for simply being out there and explaining things. Even though we sought to clarify the reality of extremism and expected some harsh reactions, we generally didn't receive them. People approached us and said: We know Islām doesn't promote these things. One lady became tearful and said she felt sorry for what we would have go through (as Muslims) because of what some extremists may have done in NY. The point being that if you dwell in the gutters of tabloid media and debate with ignorant people who spew hatred towards Muslims on blogs or newspaper comment sections, it will absorb and waste your time. However, if you engage Canadians positively, face-to-face, at the local store, at work, at school etc., it will show them what it really means to be a Muslim. Inform them what our Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) mentioned about a people who would appear - calling them "khārijites" (renegades), isolating themselves and terrorising society, and how they would depart from Islām. Teach them the central message of Tawḥīd (pure monotheism) and you will likely find a very positive result in shā’ Allāh.
To duck your head, to move around in fear, to become shy about your Islām (as some did around 9/11) will only support the idea that Muslims are outsiders in Canadian society. If you do encounter ignorant comments or harshness, then reply to them with good manners. Even if a person won't desist in his harshness, others will see the behaviour of a Muslim in the face of oppression. Our Messenger, Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) was most patient in the face of personal attacks or insults. Remember that our Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “There is nothing heavier in the Scales (on the Day of Judgement) than good character” [Jāmi’ at-Tirmithī (2002)]
Consider how vile a presentation of Islām groups like ISIS present. In reality, they are not a representation of us, their behaviour is in sharp contrast to manners of our prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), as Allāh has mentioned, “Verily in the Messenger of Allāh you have a fine role model” [Sūrah al-Ahzāh, 33:21]. The Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “I have only been sent to complete upright moral character” [Musnad Aḥmad (2/381]. So at a time like this, when Islām is being questioned in the hearts and minds of Canadians, even under difficult circumstances, it is an opportunity to show society the purity of tawḥīd and the uprightness of the Islamic creed and how it produces an impeccable, upright character. Indeed those renegades who terrorize society only do so because of a corrupt underlying creed that is alien to Islām, its Book and its prophet.
The Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “I swear by Allāh, he does not believe! By Allāh, he does not believe! By Allāh, he does not believe!” They asked him, “O Messenger of Allāh! Who?!” He replied: “The one whose neighbour is not safe from his atrocities” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (6016)]. In a similar narration, Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him), mentioned the wording in Sahīh Muslim (46): “Anyone whose neighbour is not safe from his atrocities shall not enter Paradise.” The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) advised his beloved wife Umm Salamah, “(The one with) good manners gets the best of this life and the hereafter.”
So it is an Islamic obligation, commanded by our Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), to exemplify the rights of good behaviour with our neighbours and those in society at large. These are codes of conduct we live by. This is what Islām teaches us. These are the textual proofs and evidences that have eluded those misguided youths who have sought Islamic learning by watching YouTube extremist propaganda videos through the hours of the night and not by seeking it from the mouths of orthodox Scholars of Islām.
Islām is a religion of fairness, justice and rights; a religion that provides safety and sanctity to society. Those who have sought to enact a jihādist version of Call of Duty on the streets of Ottawa are ignoramuses; misguided individuals who have strayed far away from the merits of Islām. Allāh mentions in the Qur’an the likes of those who kill innocent people: “It would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole of mankind” (Sūrah al-Mā’idah, 5:32].
These misguided individuals have distorted the texts of the Qurʾān and the Sunnah to fulfil a politicised objective that is foreign to Islām, and that is one of violent revolution, indiscriminate killing and terror. In turn, they harm themselves, they harm innocent people, and they bring about more damage upon the image of Islām than any think tank, conspiracist or disinformation agency could muster comibned.
We recommend that our brothers and sisters pay attention to and distribute the following documents and sources. They will help you to understand these issues and to engage Canadians in a positive way:
1. Upright Moral Character by Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn
2. Words of Advice Regarding daʿwah by Shaykh ‘Abū al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Bāz
3. The Methodology of the Prophets in Calling to Allāh by Shaykh Rabī’ ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī
4. The Rise of Jihadist Extremism in the West by Salafī Publications
5. A Glimpse at the Deviated Sects by Shaykh Ṣāliḥ ibn Fawzān al-Fawzān
-Articles and Audio-
1. The Message of the Prophets by Abū ʿUways
2. Wisdom in Giving daʿwah by Shaykh Muḥammad al-‘Anjarī
3. Qualities the Caller to Allāh Must Have by Shaykh Aḥmad an-Najmī
5. Manners of the Caller by Imām ibn Bāz
9. Shaykh ʿʿUbayd al-Jābirī Warns Against Anwar al-Awlaki by Shaykh ʿʿUbayd al-Jābirī
10. The Khawārij of the Era by Shaykh Rabī ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī
1. www.islām.ca (basic information for non-Muslims)
4. www.salaf.com (portal)