Translator: Els De Keyser Reviewer: Christel Foncke
I am Mohamed El Bachiri,
Muslim and resident of Molenbeek.
With this name, these religious convictions
and the reputation of the town where I live,
I am considered, by part of the population and the world,
a potential terrorist.
And that has quite an impact on me.
I am also the spouse of Loubna Lafquiri,
the love of my life,
my friend, the mother of my children,
who passed away during the attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016.
a woman of incomparable beauty and infinite goodness.
Her eyes on me, her smile, her presence
made me the most handsome,
and the happiest of all men.
Today, my sadness is unquantifiable,
and love is the only thing that keeps me going.
The love I have for my wife,
for my children,
and for humanity.
A love that inspired me
to call for 'jihad'
one evening, in a church,
where Muslims, Christians, and others had shared a meal as brothers.
Yes, I called for 'jihad'.
not just any 'jihad'.
I refer to the jihad that knows no hatred,
as hate is a heavy burden that blackens our hearts.
I am talking about the true, the noblest, most beautiful battle
who oppose terror.
This jihad encourages us to go to the other,
our brother who is different,
to smile at him, understand him and show him our empathy.
This jihad loves in order to exist,
seeks to embrace in order to snuff the flames of resentment,
and does not impose its truth,
as it is said in the Quran:
La ikraha fi dine.
No constraints in religion.
This jihad, my jihad,
cries out its love for the West,
this part of the world where I was born and which has given me so much.
I am a child of the universe, your brother in humanity.
This jihad should be the answer
Muslims give to those who seek to divide us
and to propagate violence and terrorism.
As if they were on a battle field,
the agonising cries of the defeated
were a symphony to the glory of a victorious God.
Cursed be the war, cursed be terrorism.
I return to the essence, love,
this cornerstone which should support all ideas,
all beliefs, all humans.
It should be a universal force
and the basis of all communication between us human beings.
In this relationship based on love,
nothing has the pretence of holding the real truth,
much less the will to impose it.
This quest for truth
is inside every one of us.
It is one of the characteristics of 'the rational creature' that we are.
The journey I chose is Islam.
But this road,
I chose with the objective of reaching what the Greeks called
'ataraxia', the state of having a tranquil soul.
I wish that for every one of us.
The journey I chose is Islam,
but I chose this road, because I am, above all,
a human being.
So, it is only logical
to put my humanity above my Muslim identity.
My humanity, with all its humanistic values
that come with it:
the sanctity of life, free will
and the brotherhood of man.
Being a Muslim humanist means accepting, savouring
and considering it a privilege
to live in diversity.
It is also the capacity
to put into perspective certain texts of the Quran,
more specifically the passages on war,
and to consider them as historical accounts typical of the 7th century,
which shouldn't, by any means, be used to hurt or kill other people.
Being a Muslim humanist means
taking an interest in our common history,
the history of humanity,
with all the great men who made the world advance.
These men of Ancient Greece, of Mesopotamia,
of Rome, of China, of the East and the West.
It means stopping for a moment to look at the heavens,
to turn to our neighbour, to smile at him and to understand him.
And even if my neighbour
is the antithesis of my thoughts, my beliefs,
this is all right.
As Heraclitus said:
there is truth in everything and its opposite.
I, myself, am a contradiction,
divided between reason and mysticism, conviction and scepticism.
But always, and until my last breath,
carried by love.
In these difficult and uncertain times, I call for dialogue and exchange,
and rather than lingering on the madness and the hatred of some,
let us turn toward the genius and the goodness of humanity.
Those are and will remain the true sources of inspiration and hope
for those who will inherit the Earth:
I would also highlight the importance of culture,
as it opens our minds.
When I see Averroes, a Muslim philosopher
the translation of numerous Greek texts,
and provided commentaries on them,
who ensured the transfer
of a great deal of Aristotelian thought to the West,
which contributed to the Renaissance...
When I see him immortalised at the Vatican Palace
in a fresco painted by Raphael,
I can only be overpowered by emotion
and conclude that we, Muslims,
can and have already contributed to the grandeur of the West
And that, in the end, there is no 'clash of civilisations',
but rather, magnificent encounters. I would like to conclude
with a text I wrote shortly after losing my wife,
as a response to those who have destroyed my life.
It is titled 'Allahoakbar'.
I believe it is the Allahoakbar of most Muslims.
Allahoakbar soft murmur from the heart
that can't be heard,
but is so much more true than the one used to destroy.
Allahoakbar for the love I have
and for the Cherifian kingdom.
Allahoakbar for beauty,
for art, for this oeuvre that releases such a strong emotion
that it would make the coldest of hearts melt into tears.
Allahoakbar for all this diversity,
these people with whom we discuss, exchange and accept that, in the end,
each one of us has his truth in a spirit of brotherhood.
Allahoakbar when we disapprove of violence
and we work toward peace and friendship between peoples.
Allahoakbar when I smile
the atheist or the Christian.
Allahoakbar for those who have understood
that God is love and the salvation of men
will only come through this universal force
expressed for our neighbour.
Allahoakbar, sweet thought and prayer
for you, Loubna, my love
and for all victims
who will forever live in our hearts and our memories.