Armed with three assault rifles, high capacity ammunition magazines, and with a five gallon bucket with chemicals capable of forming a deadly explosive, a camouflaged man set out with the goal of causing as much damage as possible to an LGBT celebration. If you've only read the news headlines, you would be thinking that I am talking about the tragedy in Orlando.
In reality, I am talking about James Wesley Howell, an Indiana man who had the intention of causing harm to the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade this weekend. Had police not apprehended this suspect, the potential damage of multiple assault weapons and a five-gallon bomb would have been devastating to a parade as large as the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade.
The common thread between Howell and Omar Mateen in Orlando is that they follow an ideology of hatred. The violence that Mateen caused is a crime against humanity. It is a crime that is absolutely reprehensible. The pain felt by the mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and other family of the victims can never be fully appreciated by words. It is also absolutely reprehensible for Mateen to claim that his violence is backed by Islam.
As a Muslim, I fully condemn the violence that Mateen has perpetrated. The Qur'an and the practice of Prophet Muhammad starkly contrasts any acceptance of senseless violence. The Qur'an clearly states, "... Whosoever killed a person...it shall be as if he had killed all mankind" (5:33). The Prophet Muhammad was also an advocate for peace instead of violence. Prophet Muhammad once said that the strongest among you isn't the one who can win a wrestling match, but who can control his emotions when aroused. Islam is a religion that at it's core is about taming those base emotions that incite one to violence, and to serve God's creation: mankind. As the Holy Qur'an states, "let not a people's enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness" (5:9).
Rather Mateen's actions are the opposite of what Islam teaches. He was a person who abused his wife during his marriage. Islam teaches the exact opposite. Prophet Muhammad has stated that the best among you are those who are the best to their wives. There is not a single instance in the life of Prophet Muhammad in where he abused any of his wives. On the other hand, Mateen's ex-wife stated, "He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn't finished or something like that."
As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, our slogan is "Love for all, Hatred for none." No group deserves to be killed strictly because of their beliefs or lifestyle choices. Islam has always been a religion of peace, not one of hatred. The reality is that any mass murderer who claims religion as their motivation is merely using it as a mask to hide their actual agenda of hatred. Howell, Mateen, and any other murderer only follow the ideology of hatred. Islam, on the other hand, literally means peace.