Celebrating in the Shadows of World Politics
The Vatican said the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, a man who sowed division and hatred and who caused “innumerable” deaths, should prompt serious reflection about one’s responsibility before God, not rejoicing.
‘Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions to this end” Father Lombardi said. “In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.’ (Catholic News Service)
The Vatican is holding firmly on to its commitment to realizing the ideals of common respect and tolerance between Islam and the Church as articulated in the historic document “A Common Word Between You and Us.”
From our side, let us remind ourselves as Muslims that our celebrations, festivities and commemorations need to be configured within the orbit of Islamic Spirituality. This was the want of some of our greatest leaders in the past such as Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin d. 1193), Omar Mukhtar of Libya (d. 1931) and al-Amir al-Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri (d. 1883). The latter is known to have freed his French prisoners purely on the grounds that he did not have enough food for them to eat! In July of 1860 – whilst in exile in Syria – he saved thousands of Christians from slaughter by the Druze. For this the French honoured him with special favours. Moreover, acts of humanitarianism during times of war by the former two are far too many to be mentioned in a short piece of this nature. Suffice it to say that they all gained the greatest respect both within the Muslim World and beyond. While some of them lost the battle and others won gloriously, the modus vivendi of all these great saints and warriors stand us both proud and as vitalizing nodes of inspiration for whoever wishes to fight and struggle in the name of Islam.
There is a well-known saying amongst Muslims that declares: ’ala al–mar’i an yasa’ wa laysa ‘alayhi idrak al-najah (It is compulsory for one to try one’s best; but it is not compulsory to succeed).