In the name of Allāh the Most Gracious, Most Merciful. May Allāh’s peace and blessings be sent upon His final prophet and messenger, Muhammad (salla Allāhu ‘alayhi wasalam).
Everyone has heard of the atrocity that took place in New Zealand on Friday the 8th of Rajab 1440, corresponding to 15th March 2019. The harrowing terrorist attack on two Masājid left at least 50 innocent Muslim worshippers killed and scores more injured.
1. We have to have Active Patience
We begin by offering our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured. We also extend our condolences to the victims of Israel’s ruthless aerial bombardment of Gaza that occurred simultaneously. We exhort Muslims to embrace active patience (Sabr), rather than passive patience. The latter is to passively accept the news of a calamity because one is left with no choice; whereas active patience is to internally accept and be content that it happened by Allāh’s pre-ordained decree and ontological will, thereby attaining the fullest reward. On that form of patience, Allāh says in the Qur’ān:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ
الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ
“We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘We belong to Allāh and to Him we will return.’ Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided.”
When presented with these difficult events, we cannot but be reminded of the nature of this life, that it is nothing but a test of many levels and types. Allāh says:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ
“He who created death and life to test which of you is best in action. He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving.”
All communities are likewise affected by tests of this nature. Shootings at the hands of extremists are sadly commonplace in the world, harming Muslims and non-Muslims. Each and every community has borne a share of this pain. It is, however Allāh’s blessing on us that we enjoy comforting hopes of immense rewards and compensation in the hereafter we believe in, something many other communities may not internalise. As Allāh says:
إِن تَكُونُوا تَأْلَمُونَ فَإِنَّهُمْ يَأْلَمُونَ كَمَا تَأْلَمُونَ ۖ وَتَرْجُونَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَرْجُونَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا
“…If you feel pain, they too are feeling it just as you are, but you hope for something from Allāh which they cannot hope for. Allāh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
New Zealand’s victims were killed in the Masjid, the most beloved place to Allāh on earth, on Friday (Jumu’ah), the most beloved day to Allāh, during the congregational Salāh beloved to Allāh. May Allāh shower them with His immense mercy and elevate their status in Jannah. We also ask Him to give them the best recompense for their families and loved ones.
As the dust begins to settle and the world begins to come to terms with this egregious event, below we outline some key lessons to equip Muslims around the world and particularly in the West with the appropriate mind-set moving forward.
2. Islamophobia is not new
The first point to note is as the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils elucidated precisely, moments after the event:
“This massacre today is the product of the ever-increasing Islamophobia and marginalisation of Muslims and is a reminder to all concerned, including political leaders and media commentators, of the horrific consequences that an atmosphere of hate and division can lead to.”
Those same white supremacist structures and trends have for decades forced the international community to scapegoat and focus on so-called “Islamic extremism” as a fosterer of terrorism. Countless programmes, schemes, curriculums, symposiums, conventions and even large-scale military operations have been conducted on the back of this current iteration of the ancient Orientalist myth. Is there an equivalent amount of focus on the driving forces of terrorism committed against Muslims internationally, despite being on the receiving end of most terrorism? Are such anti-Muslim atmospheres and catalysts being criminalised in the same way? Clearly not.
Take Gaza as an example. The almost decade-long besieged territory was at the receiving end of an onslaught Israeli occupying forces that targeted some 100 targets, including many civilian facilities, at around the same time as the attack in New Zealand. This is despite all resistance factions outright denying responsibility for the “rocket attacks” on “Tel Aviv” used to justify the blitz. The illegitimacy of the assault needed not be brought to light by influential international actors, because as far as Gaza is concerned, Zionists are implicitly endorsed by default to carry on. For Gaza, there pre-exists an atmosphere of legal endorsement for the European colonists to assault that particular people in the “largest concentration camp in the world”. When it is sensed that such an atmosphere is global, belligerents will presume that if their primary targets are Muslim, they can simply ‘get on with it’ with impunity.
3. We fear only Allāh
Despite the first point above, we should not allow fear to penetrate our hearts and reside therein. Such fear is of the worst enemies of man and is a sensation that can destroy them even before anything transpires. Apart from natural, temporary fear, we as Muslims should strive to drive out every other fear existing in our hearts save that for Allāh the Almighty:
الَّذِينَ قَالَ لَهُمُ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُوا لَكُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ فَزَادَهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَقَالُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ
“Those to whom people said, ‘The people have gathered against you, so fear them.’ But that merely increased their Iman and they said, ‘Allāh is enough for us and the Best of Guardians.’”
إِنَّمَا ذَٰلِكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ يُخَوِّفُ أَوْلِيَاءَهُ فَلَا تَخَافُوهُمْ وَخَافُونِ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
“It was only Satan frightening you through his friends. But do not fear them – fear Me if you are believers.”
This fear leads to one internalising the feeling of subjugation which is the key attitude of defeated people. Leaders do not accept subjugation. The Prophet’s companion Khabbāb b. al-Aratt reported:
“We complained to the Messenger of Allāh regarding the persecution inflicted upon us by the disbelievers while he was lying in the shade of the Ka’bah, having made a pillow of his cloak. We submitted: “Why do you not supplicate for our prevalence (over the opponents)?” He replied, “Among those people before you, a man would be seized and held in a pit dug for him in the ground and he would be sawed into two halves from his head, and his flesh torn away from his bones with an iron comb; but, in spite of this, he would not wean away from his Faith. By Allāh, Allāh will bring this matter to its consummation until a rider will travel from Sana’a to Hadhramaut fearing none except Allāh, and except the wolf for his sheep, but you are in too much of a hurry.”
We should never allow our emotions to take control of our reactions. On the one hand, we should not behave as if we were anticipating such events in order to continue mourning. Some Muslims treat mourning as an objective and presume that the more we mourn, the better and this absolutely wrong. More on this is outlined later on.
4. They are not all the same
We should not presume, even subtly, that all white non-Muslims approve of or celebrate this crime, or allow our words or reactions to emit such an assumption. Yes, there are indeed white supremacists, Christian extremists, Neo-Nazis and others today who hold considerable jealousy and ancient hatred for Islām and Muslims, that has precipitated in acts and policies of barbarism for hundreds of years. Many thinkers have pointed out the unity of the Orientialist discourse running through some sectors of western European thought from the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Colonialism all the way to the so-called “War on Terror” and far right Islamophobia today. There is a reason this terrorist reportedly had Crusader slogans on his weapons, spoke with the vocabulary of the War on Terror and also issued threats to the stereotypical enemy of white Christendom—Turks (including Erdogan himself).
But just as there is a long tradition of hatred of Islām and Muslims in western Europe, there have also been a number of enlightened thinkers, policy makers and average citizens who opposed this shameful history, who are neutral (if not warm to Islām) and desire justice for all—including Muslims.
In the Qur’an, Allāh confirms this diversity and cultivates in us this lens of justice when forming our presumptions about members of wider society:
وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مَنْ إِن تَأْمَنْهُ بِقِنطَارٍ يُؤَدِّهِ إِلَيْكَ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ إِن تَأْمَنْهُ بِدِينَارٍ لَّا يُؤَدِّهِ إِلَيْكَ إِلَّا مَا دُمْتَ عَلَيْهِ قَائِمًا ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا لَيْسَ عَلَيْنَا فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ سَبِيلٌ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
“And among the People of the Scripture is he who, if you entrust him with a great amount [of wealth], he will return it to you. And among them is he who, if you entrust him with a [single] silver coin, he will not return it to you unless you are constantly standing over him [demanding it]. That is because they say, “There is no blame upon us concerning the unlearned.” They tell a lie against Allah while they know [it].”
5. Be the Best Ummah to Lead Mankind
We should view these atrocities and calamities from the lens of Allāh’s preparing us to take a leadership role in this devastated world. Allāh chose this Ummah to lead humanity for its objective characteristic of commanding right, forbidding wrong and Īmān in Allāh:
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُم ۚ مِّنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and have Īmān in Allāh. If only the People of the Scripture had Īmān, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient. 
Allāh does not allow matters to occur arbitrarily and without great purpose. The first is of course to elevate the status of the victims in the hereafter, forgive their sins, to give them the best compensation in this world and the next, and so on. But for those still living, the primary objective is to prepare them for a leading role and as Allāh’s stewards of the earth. It is not possible to attain leadership without experiencing trials and tribulations and this is indeed a divine law. Such events should direct our focus to creating a real and powerful Muslim voice on the global level that appreciably impacts global laws and governance, for the benefit of all.
This position of leadership will not be given to weak, defeated Muslims but to those who are strong and resilient; strong in their beliefs, emotions and all else. The Prophet (salla Allāhu ‘alayhi wasalam) said:
“A strong believer is better and dearer to Allāh than a weak one, while both are good.”
6. The world needs a strong Muslim voice
The absence of a strong Muslim voice in the world today is what is causing humanity at large to suffer. This simply cannot be achieved unless the Ummah is united. In turn, this macro unity between different sects, countries and societies cannot be achieved unless micro unity within small communities and between individuals is realised. Unity is one of the key principles Islām calls for. As Allāh tells us:
وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
“Hold fast to the rope of Allāh all together, and do not separate. Remember Allāh’s blessing to you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts together so that you became brothers by His blessing. You were on the very brink of a pit of the Fire and He rescued you from it. In this way Allāh makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be guided.”
The many steps required in the direction of unity can be addressed in another article insha’Allāh and here we lay out general principles.
7. Now is the time to reach out
We should utilise this challenge as an opportunity to give Da’wah to non-Muslims. Many are now sympathising with Muslims, others want to know more about Islām; why we gather for sermons and Allāh’s worship on Fridays, why we are calling those killed ‘martyrs’ and why we strengthen one another as to their going to a ‘better destination’ despite the grave worldly losses. Some will want to know how we Muslims view life and death and now is the opportune time to address this curiosity.
Muslims in the West in particular should accept that they are now western Muslims. Their involvement on a socio-political level is a must. We should involve ourselves in each and every debate that takes place, and make our voices heard. Isolation does not help us, nor does it help our countries become more accommodating of our needs and, more importantly, safer places for us and the rest of the society at large.
We ask Allāh to forgive us and those who preceded us in faith and to shower his mercy and forgiveness on the victims of this horrific atrocity and all of those killed unjustly around the world. Āmīn.
 Qur’an 2:155-157
 Qur’an 67:2
 Qur’an 4:104
 Qur’ān 3:173
 Qur’an 3:175
 Bukhari on the authority of Khabbab ibn al-Arat rady Allāhu ‘anhu
 Qur’an 3:75
 Qur’an 3:110
 Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah rady Allāhu ‘anhu
 Qur’an 3:103