The whole world was shocked and grieved by the mass shooting that took place at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th, 2012. While the scenes of killed children became – unfortunately – common in countries such as Syria, Palestine and Burma, this crime was highlighted and had a larger impact due to the simple fact that it happened in the United States! In this article, I don’t intend to focus on the incident itself; I would like to spend some time exploring the mentality that leads a “quite, calm” twenty-year-old young man to become that violent and suicidal.
Inside the mind of the first killer
Let’s go back in time to the first murder to occur in history, when Qabeel the son of Adam killed his brother Habeel; Allah narrates that story in a manner that explains not only the outer physical appearance of events but also the inner feelings and thoughts, (and this is in fact one of the beauty elements of the Qur'an), Allah says:
“So his inner-self encouraged him and made fair seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers.” (Surah Al-Ma'idah, 5:30)
According to our fitrah (natural inclination), shedding the blood (or even seeing a bloody scene) is not something that we are born with; we don’t like it; we try to avoid seeing it (even if it was slaughtering sheep during `Eid Al-Adha); For Qabeel, his inner-nafs, aided by the Satan, exerted a lot of effort to twist that nature. The Qur'an uses the verb “tawwa`at” which is a very accurate description of that pressure. Among the meanings of this verb are: to make something obey, comply, being led, steered, and manipulated, and it is usually used with twisting steel and metals in general.
Killing the whole mankind
After narrating this story, Allah comments by saying:
"Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption that was done in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. " (Surah Al-Ma'idah, 5:32)
The logic given in this verse is: if someone killed one human being, then he has departed from that fitrah, and hence becomes a threat to the whole mankind. The young man who committed the mass shooting in Newtown, CT, had a huge amount of hatred and revenge towards all mankind. In Syria, the shabbiha (thugs utilized by Bashar Al-Assad to butcher Syrian people) wouldn’t mind to slaughter women, children, and old people in masses when given commands to do so. Those people are a clear manifestation of the Qur'anic verse, simply because they might kill the whole mankind if they got the chance.
The butterfly effect
It is said that "a butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo could cause tornadoes in California", in an attempt to prove how complicated and inter-connected our world is. If this theory is true for the physical events (such as the weather), it is definitely true for human beings, where the decision making “algorithms” are even more complicated. In trying to “decode” the mind of a killer, this complexity can be depressing for many, but at the same time it opens a wide opportunity for anyone who would like to attempt to stop such evil from being repeated over and over.
In other words, I don’t know what goes inside a killer’s mind, but I know that probably an honest smile in your face – which is by the way a charity – can remind him that there are some good people in this world who can help.
I don’t know what’s inside a lunatic’s mind who is about to commit a mass crime, but I know that having good righteous friends who are always there when you need them, will definitely reduce the likelihood of such things to happen.
I don’t know what’s inside a mass murderer’s mind, but I know that when we push the youth to their limits, in terms of bullying, insulting, and peer pressure, we cannot but expect crazy things to happen, especially after being exposed to violent movies and video games.
I don’t know how a depressed man thinks, but I know that reminding him about faith, hope, and the light at the end of the tunnel of this world (the afterlife) will help. Moreover, I know that the scary statistics of substance abuse and addiction in our communities suggest that we start action before it is too late.
The time bombs around us
I don’t know what goes inside a rapist’s mind, but I know that when porn movies, shameless music, tempting clothes and perfumes are everywhere in high schools, campuses, and gatherings, you cannot expect our young men and women not to be under huge pressure when they attempt to preserve their modesty and virginity.
I know some people won’t like this argument, but when a woman who is dressed immodestly gets raped, she and all other women who are dressed like her share part of the responsibility, in addition to the collective responsibility by the community, friends, and the media that allowed such behavior to become the norm.
The following Hadith explains how the whole community (or even humanity) is in the same boat, and how the responsibility is shared on everyone:
An-Nu`man ibn Bashir narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“The example of the person abiding by Allah's order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example of those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower.”
When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, 'Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving those who are above us from troubling them.' So, if the people in the upper part left the others do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe. (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Is every person around us a time bomb that is about to explode? Is everyone around you and me carrying a lot in their heart that might lead them to do crazy stuff? Probably not, but you know what: you can always be the source of inspiration to those who are around you, and stop the next massacre or suicide that is about to happen, probably by being the one who “donates” a sincere, honest smile to those around you.
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