water and flame

by Aqeela Naqvi

“categories of stupid people:
1) who terrorize under the banner of religion.
2) who target retaliation on the religion itself.”

nothing justifies the murder of innocent people.
and nothing justifies the demonization of innocent people either.

as a person of faith – as someone who has consciously chosen to believe in the faith that i do – i choose to adhere to certain principles and beliefs (even when they differ from, or are not palatable to, the masses).

but though my principles may differ from others, at their very core is this: that i will never justify nor accept the persecution of an innocent human life, simply because he/she may not share in my beliefs.

how can i?

when my Prophet teaches me that the believer who has completed his faith is the one who is “the best in manners.” that the best of the believers is “the one whom the people are safe from his tongue and hand.”

when the great souls who walk in his footsteps teach me: “be attentive to the sanctity of the human souls! never should you do to them something which God has not deemed permissible…non-Muslims are under the protection of the Muslims…the Muslim must protect his non-Muslim neighbors in the same manner and vigor as he would when he protects his own family…let your righteous actions…serve as an example…do not resort to oppression. corruption can only be cured by justice. it may be the case that when you adhere to good conduct and discipline you suffer losses. this, nevertheless, is more spiritually rewarding.” [ayatullah sistani]

any act of oppression, whether through the hands of individuals or the dollars of governments and big businesses – deserves to be brought to justice. perverted ideologies and those who use them as a cover for personal agendas must be condemned. but in doing so, we must be careful not to set masses or belief systems on trial, demanding apologies for crimes that have no basis in their principles.

if we are not only to dream of, but also act toward, a peaceable world, we must learn as a society to be revolutionary, not reactionary – we must foster the vision necessary to see beyond the remnants of catastrophe. beyond blinding anger, finger-pointing, and media-fueled rage.

we must look at situations in broader contexts, even if – especially if – those contexts make us uncomfortable. we must question. question everything. we must never accept what we hear as fact, but conduct our own research, listening to the voice of our conscience with logic, rationality, and empathy.

we must do precisely what so many would try so hard to keep us from doing:

we must seek an individuality which searches for the purity of water to put out the flames, rather than a mob mentality which perpetually shovels more fuel into hatred’s fire.