Here is one of my favourite stories about Prophet Muhammad. It is noted in a hadith that he and several of his companions were sitting down along a street in Medina. Suddenly, a companion spotted a funeral procession approaching the group. In respect of the dead human body, Muhammad stood up as the procession crossed in front of him. At that moment, a companion, who was still sitting down, said to the Prophet, ‘This is a funeral of a Jew. He is not a Muslim’. Upon hearing these words, Muhammad became upset and said back to the companion, ‘Is he not a human soul?’ The message here is clear: Prophet Muhammad respected human beings irrespective of their religion. He taught mankind that every human soul is important, whether alive or dead. This is Muhammad’s concept of dignity. He defended humanity.
Unfortunately, ISIS or its sympathizers do not care about humanity. In fact, they are the antithesis of humanity. In the very city where Prophet Muhammad stood in respect for the Jewish funeral procession, several people claiming to be Muslims blew themselves up at the Prophet’s mosque, one of the two holiest sites in Islam. The suicide attack killed four members of the Saudi Arabian security force. In comparing the two events, we can see that Prophet Muhammad honoured people who have passed away, while ISIS and their sympathizers are the reasons why funeral processions happen in the first place.
Any person in their right mind understands that there is nothing ‘Islamic’ about blowing yourself up and murdering other people. After all, the Quran is unequivocal: ‘You shall not kill yourselves’ (4:29). Suicide is so far outside the boundaries of ‘normative’ Islam that some people – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – have started to seriously question whether ISIS and their sympathizers are ‘anti-Islamic’, and not simply ‘unIslamic’, as they are popularly described. There is a difference between these concepts. ‘UnIslamic’ means that Muslims are acting in a way that opposes the basic principles of Islam. ‘Anti-Islam’ means that the actions of some Muslims are actually a threat to other Muslims and to the very essence of Islam – mercy, compassion, justice and peace.
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