By Sidra K. S. Hashmi
In light of the recent terrorist attacks that have shaken Paris, innocent and unrelated Muslims around the globe are under verbal fire and scrutiny for the errors of those far and few extremists. The entire Muslim community is expected to take responsibility for these heinous crimes committed by men who identify as Muslims, but who do not behave in ways that adhere to Islam’s teachings at all.
The teachings of Islam, just as of Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, Christianity’s defined “Seven Deadly Sins”, and every other religion’s wisdoms, principles, and guidelines, are clearly defined for its people follow. Like many religions, Islam is a way of life, and the morals taught in this religion are ones that affect every waking moment of a believer’s life.
The Five Pillars of Islam form the basic foundation of being a Muslim. The first pillar is the “Shahaada”, the testimony every Muslim makes accepting and declaring that there is no god but God and that Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was His final messenger. The second pillar is “Salah” (prayer), this includes the five obligatory daily prayers as well as the optional extra ones. The third pillar is “Zakat”, the charity that Muslims are obliged to give. The fourth pillar is “Soum/Siyyam”, the fasting that Muslims are required to do throughout the calendar year. The last and final pillar is “Hajj”, the pilgrimage to Makkah required to be made at least once in the believer’s lifetime.
To make the testimony is the base of the faith, being the first pillar, and it is truly a humbling oath to make. To submit yourself so completely to your creator and understand that our time in this world is temporary and can barely be called ours at all; there is beauty in being able to make such a powerful pledge and many are brought to tears when they say it for the first time after grasping the true meaning behind it.
This humbling experience does not go away, as the Shahaada is said twice at different parts in each prayer made, the second pillar of Islam. Prayer is a heavy topic as it has an innumerable amount of benefits that cannot be understood from a few sentences. The get-away that prayer provides to every Muslim, to throw all thoughts of worldly troubles and occupations out and to focus solely on conversing with your creator as His creation and servant; you are humbled, honored, and left in a state of absolute peace.
Giving charity is also part of being a Muslim as it benefits others in need as well as builds your own character towards being selfless, generous, and caring for the world at large. Fasting also builds character and as all the other pillars, builds your relationship with God, as you become ever more aware of the blessings that most take for granted (food, water, etc.) and all you have to thank Him for. Hajj can be considered as a spiritually cleansing trip as it leaves the participant with a clean slate from all previous sins and it is as though you have been given a second shot at life.
A true Muslim exhibits an immense amount of love for all living things as they are all God’s creations; a genuine selflessness, generosity, humbleness, kindness, and an ingrained respect for all people as we are all equals in the eyes of God- and it is not our place to judge our equals. These are the things Islam teaches as the most important parts of being a true Muslim: to love for others what you love for yourself. This being said, it is safe to assume that these people are barely Muslims even by a basic definition. There is a line in the Qur’an that states that killing one man is the same as killing all of humanity.
As humans, we condemn the killings that are happening all around the world, including this case. As Muslims, we condemn the killings that are happening all around the world, including this case. We, as a religious group, are not responsible for these attacks. We, as a species, are responsible.
Although Muslims do not support the dishonor and humiliation upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad that Charlie Hebdo published and promoted, we stand in solidarity with the individuals who lost their lives unjustly.
However, where many are openly supporting the company with declarations of “Je suis Charlie Hebdo (I Am Charlie Hebdo)”, the blatant racist sentiments expressed in many is not positive, and should not be supported.
With that in mind: if asked “Êtes-vous Charlie Hebdo?” I would respectfully say, “No. I am not Charlie Hebdo.”