Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK
A picnic in the park. What could be a more natural, safe pastime for a family? Something we have all done as children and continue to do with our own children. But there are children from Lahore who will never experience a picnic again after their young lives were cut short by the cowardly act of a suicide bomber. Neither will those that emerged alive, broken and bleeding, be able to relax in a park in future without fear. Families on a day out are an easy target, no security to bypass, just walk right in and press the button. What a hero, what a model human to take innocent lives in such a way.
Terrorist attacks are cowardly in any case because they are designed to cause terror among people and those most likely to be terrorised are innocent people, not soldiers fighting a war. Many terrorist attacks we hear about in the media these days are carried out by supposedly Islamic groups. But what does Islam actually say? What would the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, have said. How would he feel to see the appalling acts carried out in the name of Islam?
It appears the target for this particular attack were unsuspecting Christian families out on Easter Sunday but the victims included many Muslims. In February there were reports of Boko Haram attacking villages in Nigeria including Dalori where villagers were shot and burned in their homes. Survivors recalled hearing the screams of children burning to death.
Innocent people are killed in attacks all over the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. To what end? Here in the West we see the backlash against Muslims and Islam with the rise of far right political groups and increasing cases of Islamophobic attacks. After the Brussels attacks USA Republican party leadership contender Ted Cruz called for the routine policing of predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods while Donald Trump has advocated the return of waterboarding for suspects; and all this in a country where extremely few attacks are by Muslims.
The media is often accused of prioritising attacks against Western targets while those in the rest of the world do not receive the same blanket coverage. This is reflected on social media; the Paris and Brussels attacks were followed by supportive #PrayFor messages while there were considerably fewer for other attacks. #PrayForLahore was trending after the Lahore attack but it was noticeable that it was used by few Western sounding names.
Those that carry out un-Islamic atrocities must take a lot of the blame for the ill treatment of Muslims and Islam in the Western world. The fact is their acts are far removed from true Islam and no devout Muslim can believe Islam or the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, would advocate their actions.
It is written in the Holy Quran:
“…whosoever killed a person … it shall be as if he had killed all mankind:…
Chapter 5, verse 33
How then can the killing of innocent people be justified?
The Holy Prophet of Islam, on whom be peace, was clear about the rights of Christians. In a letter to Christians of all times he stated:
This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; And by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet.
Verily, they are my allies.
They have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.
The Muslims are to fight for (Christians).
If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
Their churches are to be respected.
They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day.
Do the suicide bombers and those that send them not feel they have disobeyed the Prophet, peace be upon him, in Lahore? Some Muslim nations are known to persecute, imprison or kill Christians by using blasphemy laws; do they think they know better than the Holy Quran and the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him?
For the future we must continue to pray that the terrorists don’t win, that the world can unite and stand shoulder to shoulder against them. And maybe there is hope for the future as seen in the Eiffel Tower lit up in the colours of Pakistan; social media can convey signs of unity such as this across the world and make it real.
For now with the blood of Lahore yet to be washed away we are left to mourn for more innocent lives lost so brutally and live in dread of the next terrorist atrocity.