Honoring the lives we lost
Originally published in the The Santa Clarita Valley Signal
On this anniversary of 9/11, it seems there is more to be concerned about now than to alleviate us from the wounds inflicted 13 years ago.
Sept. 11 has come to symbolize terrorism, cruelty and injustice. Over the course of the previous year we have seen an astounding rise in all of these vices around the world.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has seen the worst hostilities in living memory. The outbreak of conflict in the Ukraine has ominous implications and threatening dimensions.
And the phenomenon of ISIS has taken terrorism and ethnic cleansing into darker corners.
At a time like this, as an Ahmadi Muslim, I try to draw some ease from the teachings of prophets of God Almighty from across religions and time periods. Prophets who preached great messages of love, peace and reconciliation in the face of opposition.
It is a message that continues to inspire many, even today, thousands of years after; a message delivered by the likes of Buddha and Jesus who hold a great parallel in their lives and teachings.
Non-violence is at the heart of Buddhist and Christian teaching. Buddha once stated, “the only way to cure hate is with love.”
Similarly, Jesus stated, “if your enemy strikes your cheek, turn the other one also.” Both of these religious personalities faced and condemned environments infested with violence and prejudice.
During the times of Buddha, as the Paurava Empire had disintegrated into divisions, a fragmented landscape of kingdoms and republics took to violence for dominance.
The Brahman orthodox ideal of a caste system also created prejudices and the subsequent resentment of the lower castes in society.
Likewise, during the times of Jesus, extremist Jewish group like the Zealots followed an ideology of hatred, violence and ethnic-cleansing supposedly to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth.
The rise of religious violence during the times of Jesus Christ was so intense that the legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus was compelled to call it the “Fourth Philosophy,” in addition to the Jewish sects of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes.
In this, I would argue, is a remarkable parallel to how some extremist Muslim groups such as ISIS use violence in the name of religion. The ideals of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda form a spitting image of those of Judas the Galilean and his band of The Zealots from the times of Jesus.
Both these heavenly guides, Buddha and Jesus, gained a remarkable legend and reverence for their great teachings that courageously challenged these dangerous ideals.
As an Ahmadi Muslim, I believe that the greatest tribute we can pay to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and our greatest weapon against terrorism is to renew teachings of love, kindness and reconciliation taught by all major religions.
In this spirit, The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA has launched its fourth annual “Muslims For Life” campaign as a response to 9/11. In the last three years, the campaign has collected over 33,000 pints of blood expected to save 100,000.
That is the response of The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, (1835-1908) who claimed to be the Messiah to reform the Muslim world as Jesus had with love and justice.
Just like the Zealots and other forms of aggression faded into infamy, so will these contemporaries. But the beautiful teachings of Buddha, Jesus, Ahmad and other prophets will continue to live in honor.
And it is armed with this love that we must never waiver to fight extremism in all its forms. What better way to combat their destructive ideology than with saving lives? Join us in this fight by visiting www.muslimsforlife.org.