I am a straight Muslim man and I cried this morning when I heard about the lives that were lost earlier today. As much as many would like to condemn my faith and attribute it to this horrendous act by painting my people as homophobic or inhuman, I want to remind everyone at the end of the day, our hearts are one.
When a senseless act of violence like a mass shooting breaks in the news, the first thing the media does is attempt to make sense of it through attributing it to a familiarity that seems “logical”. Often times that attribution is that the shooter is Muslim or has ties to Radical Islam. They see a Middle Eastern name and immediately leap to tying in Islam as part of the problem. The vast majority of deadly shooting incidents are not related to any political or religious motivation.
Today, Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump gave himself a big pat on the back for ignorantly classifying radical Islamic terrorism as the problem and yet again classifying all Muslims as terrorists. There is no such thing as Radical Islamic terrorism, I cannot stress this enough. Islam does not advocate terrorism. Islam does not advocate hate. Islam does not advocate abuse. Want to know who advocates all those things? Ignorant people like Mr. Trump who can’t see the humanity in Muslims and lack humanity themselves.
Anyone who carries out atrocious acts of violence and claims to be a Muslim knows nothing about Islam. As a practicing Muslim and a fellow human being, I can tell you there is no part of my faith that justifies senseless killing. I will not acknowledge the shooter’s name because anyone who perpetuates malicious violence to this capacity lacks any humanity and should not be given the value of being identified. That man was an abusive homophobic coward whose actions shame real Muslims across the globe.
June is significant in that it is not only Pride month but also Ramadan. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Currently millions of Muslims across the globe are fasting from dawn to sunset. However Ramadan isn’t solely about fasting, it’s also about enriching yourself by embracing the faith and exercising self-control, sacrifice, and compassion for those who are less fortunate. While this horrendous attack was taking place, many Muslims on the East Coast were preparing to pray and eat their last meals with their families before dawn. They were practicing their faith while this man who claims to identify with my faith carried out an action that not only conflicts with the practices of Ramadan but also goes against the very principles of Islam.
Terrorism is part of no religion. After every mass shooting, I am reminded of that when members of various communities come together to help victims. Many members of the Muslim community identify as LGBTQ and in response to today’s shooting, the Muslim civil liberties organization asked for blood donations to help those injured in the attack despite the fact that many Muslims are fasting.
It is hypocritical that politicians want to have a conversation about protecting the LGBTQ community when members of the LGBTQ community have faced abuse and threats on a daily basis before this attack. Ignorantly trying to scapegoat Islam as an opportunity to speak out against injustices goes against the very fabric of our justice system.
A few days ago the nation mourned for a Muslim hero and it seems as if now we have forgotten that Muslims could be seen as anything other than terrorists. When Jeff Daniel’s character Will McAvoy from "The Newsroom" is asked why America isn't the greatest country in the world, he responds, “the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.”
It should not take the most deadly shooting in America to unite people in condemning Homophobia, Islamophobia, and unrestricted access to guns.
Mohamed Hassan is a digital contributor for NBC NEWS and the TODAY Show. He formerly worked in broadcast at MSNBC covering multiple shootings and both Paris Attacks. Before that he was was a film critic.