Violence is not dependent upon a person’s race, ethnicity, place of origin, but one can be negatively influenced by cultural beliefs pinned to cultural religious views.
First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims at the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. As we learn more about the lone gunman behind the shootings, as a progressive leader in the Muslim community I want to point out that there are certain things that must be understood to put this in proper context – particularly why here in America, why in the southern state of Florida, and why under the current “us versus them” political atmosphere that promotes radical thinking and violent reactions?
We do not have all the facts to have a clear and distinct understanding why this man did what he did. Even if his beliefs disagreed with sexual diversity, it is continuously becoming more and more clear that diversity of sexuality is a natural phenomenon. As more and more diverse groups of religious leaders understand this scientific information to be true, even when some in our country do not embrace the changes in this belief over the past fifty years, it is making the United States a more welcoming society.
I denounced any form of violence in general, and emphasize that violence is never an answer to resolve issues of political, religious, racial or ethical differences. I believe acts like this emphasize the importance of having and supporting institutions like MECCA Institute, institutions that are working with the Muslim communities by teaching a kinder, more humane Islam that is inclusive of all members in our communities.
Unfortunately, inclusive Islam is a kind of Islam that people are not accustomed to hearing. Inclusive Islam is an alternative message that counteracts the extremist message they are being bombarded with on social media and even in some religious circles. Our alternative understanding of an inclusive Islam will help our youth stay away from such extremist messages, because they are antithetical to the greater Islamic ethics that never calls for violence against those who are different; Islam is diverse itself.
As we continue to learn more about the background of the attacker, and is revealed from where he may have derived his political, religious, and personal understanding of his faith, we must emphasize that such violence is not dependent upon a person’s race, ethnicity, place of origin, but one can be negatively influenced by cultural beliefs pinned to cultural religious views.
Daayiee Abdullah is the Executive Director of MECCA Institute, a progressive Islamic institute with a think tank and a school.