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“We are reminded once again that beauty can never be served by ugliness, that peace can never be served by militarism and violence, that Truth can never be defended or supported by perversion and falsehood.”

This quote is Dr. Timothy Gianotti’s response to the Orlando shootings on June 12, 2016. As a Muslim community, let’s take a moment to ponder on his eloquent words. The largest mass shooting in American history shocked the world and for a while many thought this stemmed from Omar Mateen’s religious background – Islam.

Monotheistic religions frown upon homosexuality. Some take it so far as to put the law in their own hands and feel as if it is their responsibility to punish those who are a part of the community. Originally, it was suspected that Mateen did just that. So, where do we as Muslims stand?

Islam is a peaceful religion and as we are reminded: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though you have killed all mankind, whoever saves a life, it is as though you have saved all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32).

As Muslims, we can choose how we react and represent our religion: we have the choice to be pro-active and to condemn any acts of violence; we have the choice to have compassion with our prayers for the victim’s families as well as all those traumatized. As Muslims, we are reminded that God has created all creatures equally and with love. Islam is a religion of community, peace and generosity. We must reach out and raise awareness of humanity in the world.

After the devastating attack in Orlando in June, Muslim communities donated thousands of dollars to support families of the fallen. As Muslims, the role is not to judge or to punish – our opportunity is to promote an environment full of love, peace and harmony between all mankind.

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