On the 22nd of September 2013, two-suicide bombers detonated their explosives belt at a church in Pakistan, killing over 75 Christians who were attending Sunday mass.
Obviously as Muslims we should be outraged at such an atrocity, after all when right wing minded extremists attack mosques in the west, we are outraged and condemn such incidents, so that such an attack against a church takes place in the Muslim world, should also cause outrage and condemnation from the Muslim community.
Though the perpetrators of the church bombing may claim to have a mandate from Islam to carry out such actions, the fact of the matter is that such actions have no place in Islam. To put it bluntly, Islam does not sanction the attacking, or in this case, the bombing of another place of worship, such a church, or even a synagogue.
Other places of worship belonging to other religious groups are to be respected, and left alone from an Islamic perspective. If one for example were to look at the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) dealing with the Christian community, one would see that he specifically guaranteed the protection of their belongings, and places of worship. This conduct done by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was carried on by his successors and companions, who ensured that the Christian and Jewish communities would have their places of worship safeguarded and protected.
One great example is that of Umar al-Khattab, the 2nd caliph of Islam. After the Muslims had captured Jerusalem from Christian control, the Christian leader of the city told Umar that he could pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but Umar refused arguing that future Muslims might use this as an excuse to turn the church, and one of Christianity’s most holiest places into a mosque, and Umar didn’t want to deprive Christians of this.
So if this is the example of the early Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions, then what should the example be of other Muslims? Exploding bombs at a church killing dozens of Christians attending mass? Off course not!
The perpetrators of the church bombing will attempt to justify their attack, they have already tried to explain their actions citing America’s drone strikes, and their attack is in response to America’s drone strikes. Without a doubt it is wrong when America carries out drone strikes in Pakistan that kill innocent Pakistanis, but Islamically, two wrongs do not make a right. In no circumstances is one allowed to kill innocent people just because the other side may do so, Islam puts clear stipulations and guidelines on how Muslims are to conduct themselves in a conflict, telling Muslims not to kill women and children, and to not cross the limits.
Secondly, it makes no sense to attack a church killing innocent Pakistanis who have nothing to do with drone strikes. The drone strikes are ordered by the American government, and carried out by the CIA, this has nothing to do with Pakistani Christians. In fact if we want to use such faulty logic, then one could apply it against Muslims too, and start attacking innocent Americans Muslims in America for what some extremist Muslims have done in Pakistan, yet as we all know that’s absurd! We as Muslims often complain that the entire Muslim community is tarnished and targeted because of the actions of a few, so how sensible is it for some Muslims to now employ the same tactic, blaming Pakistani Christians for what the American government is doing.
Just because some members of the American government responsible for drone strikes may be Christian, does not automatically condemn all Christians, including Pakistani Christians, who have no say or control in the drone strikes carried out by the American government. Furthermore if the perpetrators of the attack think that America will cease drone strikes because of bombing churches, then they are deluding themselves, if anything such attacks will only give the American government a further pretext and justification to carry out their drone strikes, and many will even sympathize with their case.
In conclusion, we as Muslims must and do condemn such heinous crimes, they have no place in Islam, and the people who carry out such attacks in the name of Islam, certainly do not have a mandate from Islam, and certainly don’t represent the Muslims, no Muslim elected or selected these attackers as their representatives, these extremists only represent themselves.