Originally Published in Daily Bulletin Column on December 15th 2016.
On the one-year anniversary of the Dec. 2, 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, we gathered in our places of worship and civic venues to honor those taken from us by two people who called themselves Muslims, but who violated God’s sacred laws in the Quran and chose instead the path of hate — choosing the evil of murder over the sanctity of life.
There are some who think the two people who perpetrated the heinous and unspeakable atrocities a year ago were, in fact, true followers of the religion and teachings of Islam. But this is not true.
In chapter 5, verse 32 of the Quran, God relates the powerful truth He first gave to the children of Israel when He said: “Whosoever unjustly kills a person. … it shall be as though he had killed all mankind. And whosoever saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved all mankind.”
The foundation on which the sanctity of life is based comes from God’s requirement that we, as His highest creation, strive to be just in all matters. God states this clearly in chapter 16, verse 90 of the Quran:
“Verily, God enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving in charity as though to one’s own family; and He forbids indecency and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression.”
From just these two verses, it should be clear what Islam commands and condemns, and what it upholds as being right and wrong.
On the anniversary of a tragedy, it is natural to grieve and to weep for those we have lost, and to seek help and solace in prayer for those who are thankfully still with us, but who rightfully suffer in the pain and sorrow of their wounds, both mortal and of the heart.
Our reflections in these difficult times naturally bring back the immediacy of what we all experienced on that awful day one year ago — the shock, the horror, the overwhelming sadness and grief. And yes, the anger and the hunger for vengeance that is normal in the aftermath of evil.
What is vital in this time of reflection is to understand the past and its participants, and to use that wisdom to maintain vigilance in the present to prevent future tragedies. This requires engagement from all us — we must come together in unity of purpose to combat hatred and its causes with love and all its power and purity.
Most of us have heard the quote by the philosopher Sir Edmund Burke: “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
To update Mr. Burke to the modern age, let us all then, as good men and good women, join together so that good may triumph over evil. We can do this by standing for what is right and against what is based in fear and hatred and the demonization and exclusion of the “other.”
Let us always remember that love is God’s ultimate power over evil. He blesses us with this capacity within our hearts so we may love and seek understanding and connection with each other. It is this love that can remove our fears and animosities.
It is this love that can tear down the walls of stone and belief which we so often fashion to keep ourselves isolated and alone.
Let us strengthen our bodies, minds and spirits with this love, so that together we may prevail against the forces that seek to keep us in darkness and distrust.
It is only with this God-given power of love that we can be empowered and enabled to truly honor, reflect and rebuild our way to a better America.