Imam Talib Shareef, of The Nation’s (America’s) Mosque, Masjid Muhammad, the oldest Muslim community located in America’s capital dating back to the mid 1930s, responds to the Orlando massacre.

We join the President and all across our nation who are offering condolences and prayers from the deepest place in their hearts and souls for the immediate and extended families of the victims whose lives were taken, shaken, shattered and left void, by yet another senseless act of violence. We strongly condemn this atrocious hate-terrorist attack in Orlando and any of such attacks anywhere in the world. We continue to be shocked and pained by these futile, savage attacks against humanity and they must be stopped.

While the Killer is said to have claimed allegiance to ISIL and identifies with the religion of Al-Islam, our position, the position of Islam, is that it doesn’t matter who the attacker is or what misguided sentiment in the society ill-inspired him or what he claims, his actions are criminal, inhumane, and are an outright betrayal of and not condoned by Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any of the other beautiful faith traditions. Any person or group, no matter how desperate their situation, no matter what their cause, there is no justifica­tion for them to murder and make helpless, vulnerable, or innocent humans the target of their hate or their inhumane actions. The Qur’an states that ALL life is sacred, and that the value of one life is equal to all of humanity. In the words of the great humanitarian, man of peace, the people’s champ (may the Almighty rest his beautiful soul):

I’m a Muslim. I’ve been a Muslim for 20 years. . . . You know me. I’m a boxer. I’ve been called the greatest. People recognize me for being a boxer and a man of truth. I wouldn’t be here representing Islam if it were terrorist. . . . I think all people should know the truth, come to recognize the truth. Islam is peace.

We ask the people of our nation to not reciprocate the killer’s hate or his actions because his actions were created by hate, and hate just produces more hate, just as extremes produce extremes. It is experiences like these that usher forth the needs of our collective souls and our common life, and shine a bright light on our unity and strength as a nation. So, let us respond with a helping embracive hand.   Let us maximize the best of our good nature and faith teachings of love, mercy, compassion, peace, universal brotherhood and concern for humanity and human life. Together, united upon that inherent goodness and love we can reduce these small worlds of hate and evil, and create environments where such a climate of violence does not exist.

This massacre comes on the anniversary of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, and upon a series of too many others. We must look at these mass killings and value our intrinsic nature to live intelligently and learn from them so they do not continue to occur. Whether it is gun laws, violence in games, media, or concerns in areas of mental health; we cannot close our eyes to the signs we are given. Nor can we close our eyes to the roles that our actions, thoughts, words, products, and services play in nurturing the minds of our fellow citizens.

I end this with a quote mentioned in the wonderful memorial service and life of the great humanitarian and people’s Champ, Muhammad Ali:

We all have the same God, we just serve him differently. Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, oceans all have different names, but they all contain water. So do religions have different names, and they all contain truth, expressed in different ways forms and times. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew. When you believe in God, you should believe that all people are part of one family. If you love God, you can’t love only some of his children

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