Sri Lanka’s Muslims woke up to a rude shock on Easter Sunday, 21st April and reacted with disbelief to the news that churches and hotels had been bombed while our Christian brothers and sisters were celebrating Easter.
As Muslims we are expected to show utmost compassion and tolerance to people of other faiths. Christians especially occupy a very dear place in Muslim hearts, being the followers of one of the most revered prophets of Islam, Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him). In the Qur’an Christians are called the nearest to Muslims and praised for their piety and devotion, while we know from the life story of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) how he was assisted in his mission by Christians and how far he went to win their trust including giving a covenant guaranteeing their religious rights for all time.
As such, it is shocking that a group of misguided extremists purporting to represent our noble and tolerant faith have chosen to commit this sacrilege in a place of worship and a holy day held dear by Christians all over the world, taking over two hundred innocent lives. What is also deplorable is the manner the terrorists struck in suicide attacks, especially since we all know that suicide, like the taking of innocent lives, is completely prohibited in Islam.
We reach out to our fellow countrymen and countrywomen and our dear Christian brothers and sisters and join them in this time of grief and pray that no more such vile acts in the name of any religion sullies the holy ground we stand on and this beautiful country we live in.
At the same time, we call on the government to clamp down on all forms of extremism and terrorism and take severe action to annihilate these hate cults at the earliest. We also call on the government to investigate as to who were behind these barbaric attacks since there are many vested interests intent on harming the image of Islam and giving Muslims a bad name. Totally annihilating extremism in all its devious form, whether in the name of religion or nationalism, is the only way we can live in peace and harmony with one another.
Ilyas Haniffa, President Asiff Hussein, Vice President- Outreach
Centre for Islamic Studies