A girl takes part in a vigil to commemorate victims of a mass shooting at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016.
Adrees Latif—Reuters
By Nihad Awad
June 14, 2016
IDEAS

Awad is the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations


We have just witnessed one of the worst attacks on American soil in history in Orlando, and we are still in shock at the scope and magnitude of the violence. If words cannot express the pain we feel in witnessing such loss, I cannot fathom that of the families of the victims. My prayers for their comfort have kept me sleepless.

What we have just witnessed is a hate crime against an already victimized community, and it violates our principles, both as Americans and as Muslims. I join the millions of Muslims in our country who are repulsed by such an affront to our or any faith.

In the wake of such atrocity, we have two paths that we can choose to take.

The first path is one of darkness—the way of division and broad generalizations blaming millions of peaceful innocents for the actions of a perverse few. This path may be politically convenient, and even expedient, but it goes against our history and values as Americans, and is not the way we must choose.

Instead, we must adopt the much harder path—that of redoubling our efforts to love, comfort and serve one another, regardless of race, religion or creed. It is easy to join with others in times of ease and joy. It is far harder to share with them their pain. But this is what we must do.

For years, the LGBTQIA community stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Muslim community as we have faced hate crimes, bigotry, marginalization and discrimination. Today, we stand firmly and resolutely to declare that this support goes both ways; that we are there for all communities who are the victims of violence and persecution in our country.

The liberation of the American Muslim community is inextricably linked with the liberation of all minority groups—Black, Latino, Gay, Jewish, Trans and every other community that has faced discrimination and oppression in this country. We cannot fight injustice against some groups, and not against others.

Homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and Islamophobia are all interconnected systems of oppression, and we cannot dismantle one without dismantling the others.

As a Muslim, I may not subscribe to your faith or your lifestyle, but I am obligated to respect your choice.

“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.” (The Holy Quran, 2:256)

As Muslims, and as Americans, now is the time to speak out and make it clear that we will not give in to hate. We will not give in to fear.

Gun control and mental illness are just two of the main issues we cannot whitewash in the effort to prevent future gun violence.

The criminals, terrorists and extremists behind these kinds of attacks only mean to divide us and turn us against each other. We cannot afford to let them succeed. Divided we fall; together, we stand.

As it states in the Quran, Islam’s holy text: “O humankind! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.” (49:13)

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