Dear Brenton Tarrant,
You don’t know me. I didn’t know you too till you grabbed the global headlines with your “heroic”, “courageous” act that Friday afternoon. By shooting so many innocent worshipers inside a mosque, you have earned universal “admiration.” May Allah, sorry whichever God you invoke and believe in, reward you with His justice.
Let me begin with why I chose to write this missive. My seven-year-old daughter, who is like the seven-year-olds everywhere, not much aware of the many unkind things, including terrorism, in our world. This morning, while I was watching the news, she saw your face on TV and asked me, ”Daddy, is he the man who killed so many people yesterday?” I just nodded, unable to explain much to the child. Believe me, I didn’t want to poison her mind. But then I began thinking.
From what I have gathered from the reports, you harboured and, perhaps still harbour, some deep-rooted complaints against Islam and Muslims. I am not going to defend Islam or their practitioners here. There is a lot to be debated about the conduct of Muslims. Let us leave that debate for another day.
Let us talk something mundane.
You chose the city called Christchurch to bring “honour” to your name. I have never been to it. But spare a moment with its very name—Christchurch. Christ is a prophet revered everywhere. He is one of the prophets the Quran speaks glowingly about. When I was a child I heard many stories about Christ from my grandmother. I am sure you too had heard those stories from your grandmother. Did you remember any of those stories, teachings, gospels, values Christ and Christianity stand for before you began shooting indiscriminately. Did you remember what does a church mean? In a blind rage, you forgot all the values that Christ, Christianity and church stand for.
You deliberately chose Friday the day of weekly Islamic mass prayers. Perhaps you couldn’t have found so many worshippers at one place on any other day in a year except if you had decided to exhibit your unique “bravery” on one of the two Eids—Eidul fitr which follows the holy month of Ramadan and Eidul Azha the annual day of sacrifice. You chose Friday knowing very well that your targets would be unarmed, closeted and unsuspecting. You have changed the rule now. Will worshippers to massive congregations everywhere ask for permission to carry weapons for self-defence?
You chose Mosque Al Noor. I don’t know if you had visited the mosque earlier. I too have not seen it. But a mosque is not just about azaan, prayers and minarets. Like all places of worship, mosques symbolise a faith. Mosques normally don’t stock anything except prayer mats, rosaries, copies of the Quran and Hadiths. It is not a battle zone or a war room. It is, like all houses of worship, a place to submit and surrender to the Almighty. It is an arena to seek divine blessings.
The worshipers enter a mosque only after they have performed wadu or ablutions. Why? Not because they come physically unclean and so need to clean themselves. More than the mandatory washing of feet, hands and face, wadu is an exercise in spiritual cleaning. It is to prepare a worshipper to be able to stand before his/her master. To confer with and confide in the Almighty with a clean conscience. Well, it is also about getting a feeling that one is now ready to chant the verses and perform the rituals in a prayer. A mosque is practically open 24X7. You can come and go anytime you choose but it certainly follows the routine of namaz five times a day. But you chose to hit on a Friday to cause maximum casualties.
You chose the mosque named Al Noor (God’s light). How did the divine light which is free and omnipresent didn’t reach your heart? How did your heart remain so deprived and darkened, stony and cruel as to not get wrenched at the massacre that you staged? Your brutalities have benumbed the civilized world. Your atrocities have scarred the soul of humanity.
The New Zealand PM has assured the world that the perpetrators of Christchurch massacre will be brought to justice. We will wait. Those who succumbed to your barbarity are not there to see what treatment is meted out to you. The survivors of the satanic show, dance of the devil will carry the memories of those horrifying moments forever. They will remember when a human-turned-beast opened live munitions out on group of unarmed people engaged in prayers. It will be difficult for the survivors and their dear ones to forget those dreadful, dreary moments. They expect justice, here and hereafter!
As for my seven-year-old daughter, I have decided not to tell her the gory tale. I don’t want her to grow up with even an iota of hatred and animosity against you. She will find her own way to make the meaning in the “marvellously supreme task” you performed that Friday afternoon.
[Mohammed Wajihuddin is a Senior Journalist associated with The Times of India, Mumbai. He can be contacted at [email protected]]