On the afternoon of August 17, countless lives were devastated after a van mowed down unsuspecting pedestrians on Las Ramblas, a popular tourist attraction and the most famous street in Barcelona, Spain. The following day, another pedestrian was killed in a subsequent attack involving a vehicle in Cambrils. The death toll of bystanders reached fifteen, which tragically included a seven year old boy. In addition to the fatalities, well over one hundred others suffered injuries of various degrees.
The attacks in Spain were allegedly committed by a terror cell comprised of both Moroccan immigrants, as well as at least one Spanish citizen. The “Islamic State” has claimed responsibility for the attack. It should be borne in mind that the terms “Islamic State,” and by extension the acronym “ISIS,” are deceptive misnomers considering the behavior of these individuals is absolutely contrary to the tenets of the Islamic faith. This premise has been proven again and again. If one simply reflects on the kidnapping of Muslim schoolgirls in Nigeria or the cold-blooded massacre of Pakistani school children (both in 2014), the burning of a Jordanian pilot while he was still alive (2015), or the numerous instances of bombs being detonated in mosques while worshippers prayed, it becomes abundantly clear that these terrorists do not represent Islam or Muslims. Their extreme and misguided ideology serves no one, aside from themselves. In an attempt to hijack Islam, these criminals and miscreants have defamed our religion and have caused great harm. This sadistic pattern of behavior needs to be viewed through the proper lens. These are not “radical Muslims.” These are “radicals” who are killing Muslims, amongst many others.
Sadly, these cowardly and appalling events are yet another example of the misrepresentation and distortion of Islam, its values, teachings and principles. Lest anyone be deceived, the perpetrators of these ungodly acts are abject enemies of Islam and Muslims, and to civilization, as a whole, for that matter. The detestable actions of these terrorists are the antithesis of the example set by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who was a consummate humanitarian. Throughout history, Muslims have made countless contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of philosophy, medicine, astronomy, physics, chemistry, geometry and algebra. The benefactions of Muslim researchers, scientists, engineers and physicians have had an immeasurable impact on our way of life from the far East to the West and all points in between.
True and sincere Muslims are unfairly juxtaposed between radical extremists on one side, and Islamophobes on the other. Ironically, both the extremists and the Islamophobes have been known to justify their exploits based upon the actions of those on the other end of the spectrum. Muslims are no less potential casualties than anyone else who may happen to frequent a market, a cafe, or any other public venue throughout the course of their day.
For the sake of our religion, and in the interest of peace and prosperity, Muslims must continue to speak up and speak out against terrorists with radical agendas that are masked with the veneer of fighting a “holy war” in the name of Islam. There is nothing holy about murdering innocent people and destroying families. To be clear, Muslims have, and will continue to, categorically denounce and condemn, without any equivocation, these abhorrent acts of violence and extremism.