I applaud Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for quickly condemning the massacre, and I know that many, many Muslims, including some whom I count my friends, are grieved at the continued, senseless loss of life. Yet, I am both astonished and horrified to note that President Abbas’ reaction was not shared by the inhabitants of Gaza, where news of the seminary killing was greeted with celebratory gunfire, cars honking their horns, and people passing out candy in the streets.
Islam, I am told, is supposed to be a religion of peace; indeed, the very root meaning of the word “Islam” is “peace”. I have met many devout Muslims in the
Yet, these truly peace-loving Muslims whom I have met must, I fear, be counted themselves a minority among their religious brethren, for this is neither the first time, nor shall it be, I fear, the last when the tragic, truly evil murder of innocent human beings has been met in Muslim communities around the world with joy and celebration. No man’s death is occasion to celebrate, for every death is an evil, to be mourned either for the senseless loss of an innocent life or for that the death of a guilty man was made necessary in the first place.
I am forced, therefore, to ask this: can Islam today truly claim to be a religion of peace when so many of its followers rejoice at such evil? I wish it were not so; I wish with all my heart that every Muslim on this earth embraced the peaceful tenets of his or her religion and shunned any pretense to unholy violence in the name of God. Let us all, therefore, pray to God that He might effect a change in the hearts of men; that He might blot out with His Holy Light that restless shadow that overcasts their hearts and encourages them to revel in the evils of destruction; that he might bring peace to our time so that we might all greet one another in peace in His Holy Name, recognizing His image in each other, and embracing humanity according to the precepts of His Love.