Shocking, Senseless And Cowardly Paris Attacks
19 November 2015
By Grand Mufti
I was as shocked as any sensible human being would have been when I learned
about the senseless, heinous, appalling and cowardly act that took place in
Paris this week.
This attack is shocking, and offends the conscience of every sane person,
regardless of their religious identity. I wish to stress categorically and
unequivocally our complete solidarity and unwavering support for the French
people in their plight and their determination to combat terror. The innocent
victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers. The whole Muslim
community is in a state of mourning like the rest of the French people since
an attack of this magnitude is in reality an attack on all humanity as our
Holy Book emphasizes.
Terrorist groups flagrantly use religion as a cloak to cover up for their
cowardly acts of violence. Their ideological fallacy reveal their warped
logic and ill-informed and unauthentic sources which they turn to in order to
derive their justification for their insatiable desire for power, control and
bloodshed. These ideologies of hate and terror must be challenged and rooted
But where did all this begin? In both Islam and other religions we are
witnessing a phenomenon in which self-claimed people without a sound
foundation in religious learning have attempted to set themselves up as
religious authorities, even though they lack the scholarly qualifications for
making valid interpretations of religious law and morality. It is this
eccentric and rebellious attitude towards religion that opens the way for
extremist interpretations of Islam that have no basis in reality.
Not educated in Islam
Furthermore, and this is very important, is that none of these extremists
have been educated in Islam in genuine centers of Islamic learning. They are,
rather, products of troubled environments and have subscribed to distorted
and misguided interpretations of Islam that have no basis in traditional
Islamic doctrine. Their aim is to create havoc and chaos in the world
There is, it must be said, another part to this equation. I have been
absolutely clear and unequivocal in condemning all acts of terrorism and
vigilantism like this one, and I reiterate that Islam stands utterly against
extremism of all kinds. If we wish to tackle this problem however, we must
make an effort to properly understand the many factors that provide a
rationalization for terrorism and extremism of all kinds in the modern world.
Otherwise, we run the risk of never being able to properly address and
eradicate this scourge. There is no option but to understand this if we are
serious about building a better future, one which confronts and puts an end
to this grave situation that threatens people in all parts of the globe.
We must remember, however, that as recent events in many parts of the world
indicate, violent extremism knows no particular faith. It is rather a
perversion of the human condition, and must be dealt with as such. We are all
responsible, collectively, for fighting against such deviance. Muslims,
Europeans, Americans, Asians– we all have homework to do to eradicate this
menace, and the burden must be shared by all of us.
It is because a true spirit of cooperation is absolutely indispensable at
this critical time that I worry about the exploitation of raw emotions by
fanatical groups to place the very existence of Muslims in Europe in
jeopardy. Blaming an entire religion, and targeting a diverse and
overwhelmingly peaceful religious community because of the acts of few
outcasts is not only patently unfair, but counterproductive in achieving our
shared goals of combating terror.
It is important for us at this time of great sadness to stand together and
process this horrific incident in a way that is fair and just. It is
important that we refrain from demonizing Muslims without cause – not because
it is good for Muslims, but because our future ability to eradicate the
courage of terror depends on it.
Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam is the 19th and current Grand Mufti of
Egypt through Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah, educational institute founded to
represent Islam and a center for Islamic legal research. He received his PhD
in 1996 from the Al-Azhar University in Jurisprudence and Sharia law. Prior
to his appointment, he served as the chairman of the Department of
Jurisprudence at the School of Sharia at Al-Azhar University's Tanta branch.