Michiana Muslims call Libya attack horrific, appalling, and senseless

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Atrocious, horrific, and appalling; this is how Muslims in Michiana are reacting Wednesday to an attack on a U.S. Consulate and the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya.

At the Islamic Society of Michiana in South Bend, Imam Mohammad Sirajuddin said he was saddened when he first heard the news. “My first reaction of shock and sadness, and then feeling sorry and sympathy to the lives lost.”

A few miles away, members of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Notre Dame were likewise upset. “It doesn’t in any way reflect the broader sentiment of the Libyan people or of Muslims as a whole,” said Kenan Rahmani.

Of the many lessons the Qur’an teaches Muslims to value life; protect innocents; forgive; and to have mercy are chief among them, according to Sirajuddin.

Sirajuddin pointed out that the Prophet Mohammad was attacked and abused during portions of his life, and the way he reacted to it is supposed to act as a guide for Muslims who find themselves in similar situations.

But following Mohammad’s example is no easy task, mirroring a sentiment many Christians feel when asked to follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Protests over the depiction of the prophet Mohammad in a low-budget American made film erupted in Egypt and Libya.

For Muslims, portraying any of the prophets is forbidden because it is considered an extreme disrespect.

Imam Sirajuddin condemns the attack of the consulate and murder of Ambassador Stevens saying this is not what Muslims are taught in the Qur’an. “It does not mean that if somebody insults them, you react in this way,” said Sirajuddin.

But he also condemns the makers of the film, saying they are trying to cause division between God’s people.

Muslims, like Sirajuddin and Rahmani are in favor of freedom of expression; but they say just because you have the right to say whatever you want, does not mean you should.

They also believe there are extremist groups in both ideologies, Islamic and Christian, and that they are both terrible; yet they both should not be used as a representation for the religions as a whole.

Just as Terry Jones is despised by many Christians, for his plans to burn the Qur’an on the 10th anniversary of 9/11; so too are jihadist groups like Al Qaeda despised by many Muslims.

Both religions have existed side by side for thousands of years, though not always on the best of terms; but that doesn’t dismay Rahmani. “For me, a young Muslim-American here at Notre Dame; I feel an incredible amount of optimism for the future of the coexistence of these two religions,” said Rahmani.

A recent convert to Islam, Gene Stowe shared something he has learned from his time studying the Qur’an. “Anyone who kills an innocent person is guilty of killing all of humanity; and anyone who saves an innocent person is credited with saving all of humanity. That’s Islam’s view of the protection of innocent life,” said Stowe.

Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans killed during the attack on the consulate were innocent, according to Sirajuddin; they played no part in making the film that sparked the protest that was used as a diversion for the attack.

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