London Bombings: A Muslim Perspective
by Anisa Mehdi
first thing I did when I heard the horrifying news about the
bombing in London was to call my cousin who was born
in Britain and lives and works in the capital. Nigel's dad
their homeland, Iraq, in the 1940s. His dad moved to England
and mine came to America.
He told me everyone was fine: my aunt, my other cousins, their
spouses and children. Fortuitously, Nigel had given his employees
the day off, so no one was caught in transit. But they were emotionally
shaken, disgusted and aghast, relating now all too keenly to
the previously struck citizens of New York and Madrid.
of mine had left London only 12 hours earlier. He’d been
doing business on the street where the bus blew up. Other e-mails
assured me my friends and colleagues in the
news business were safe, each one with some story to tell. But
more than 50 families are in the deepest mourning, and hundreds
of others are worried sick about their wounded loved ones.
My emotions are complicated in the wake of this evil. I battle
feelings of guilt -- guilt by association because I am Muslim
and Muslims are the likely suspects in this case.
I felt a similar guilt as a white person watching white policemen
hose down black American civil rights protesters in the 1960s.
There was a guilt reading reports of massacres in Bosnia and
Rwanda when my great nation might have stepped in to stop the
crimes, and guilt at seeing it happen again in Darfur, again
on my watch.
There is guilt seeing the destruction my tax dollars are bringing
to my father's homeland, Iraq. But being associated by faith
with people who may be behind this unjustifiable bloodbath is
Muslim Americans I know are tired of defending our faith in
the wake of ongoing terrorism claimed in the name of Islam. We keep reminding our fellow Americans that there are bad apples
in every barrel. That with five Muslims in one room you may get
We point out, too, that maybe, just maybe, we're jumping to
conclusions -- although in my heart of hearts I am resigned.
Yet Catholics from the Irish Republican Army terrorized Great
Britain for years. And a Jewish terrorist assassinated Israeli
Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin. Homegrown Americans blew up the
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Remember that terrorism is political, not religious -- and even
if people who are Muslim are indeed the perpetrators of this
atrocity, neither Islam nor the billion-plus Muslims in the world
are all to blame. It's just a few too many deranged and dangerous
criminals who don't understand that Islam is a religion of mercy.
And that is something I do understand, as do most other Muslims.
Let me reiterate
something I've written before: These
crimes against humanity are in no way a "jihad." They
are in no way a struggle or striving to do God's will. These are
acts of what we call in Arabic hiraba. Terrorism. They are acts
that defile Islam.
In the light of this tragedy in London, the stories about desecrating
the Quran in American military institutions pale. Destroying
or disrespecting a book, no matter how precious, cannot be compared
If Muslim individuals are indeed behind the slaughter of innocents
in London, it is they who truly commit sacrilege against Islam's
holy book. They are the ones who are truly trashing the Quran.
Every Muslim individual and organization I know condemns these
acts of terrorism.
Anisa Mehdi is a journalist and documentary filmmaker living
in Maplewood. She specializes in religion and the arts.