I will not dance on Osama bin Laden’s grave

Published: May 8, 2011
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When everyone was out on the streets celebrating, chanting “USA” and firing fireworks, I felt like an outsider.

When everyone was out on the streets celebrating, chanting “USA” and firing fireworks, I felt like an outsider. When everyone was out on the streets celebrating, chanting “USA” and firing fireworks, I felt like an outsider.

I have been in the US for the past two years and in this time I have felt culture shock twice – the first, when I first arrived, and then again on the night of May 2, 2011.

Any supporter of peace would feel nothing but hatred for Bin Laden and his organisation, and I do hate him or I thought I did. But, Sunday night when everyone was out on the streets celebrating, chanting “USA” and firing fireworks, I felt like an outsider. I couldn’t join in – partly because it still felt wrong and partly because I realised instantly that any possible backlash from this was going to affect my country.

But above all, what I realised was that I couldn’t celebrate death.

I challenged myself to think of one person whose death would bring me to the point of happiness and celebration – no one.

My grandmother has been a victim of attempted murder twice. I would not celebrate if the people responsible were to die. I would only be relieved if they were behind bars. I would not feel happiness, instead I would be devastated if someone were to harm Terry Jones or anyone of the people who attempted to burn the Holy Quran or depict our beloved Holy Prophet (pbuh). This is because hate solves nothing, especially hate of the highest order, hate that can bring you to rejoice the end of a life. All hate does is provoke anger, and anger solves nothing. It is the simple fact that it angers Muslims when these lunatics disrespect our religion that causes them to do it again. They like making us angry; their purpose is to make us react.

Martin Luther King Junior said:

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

I was there in utter shock and confusion when on the morning of September 12, 2001 our sixth grade teacher in school in Islamabad asked everyone what the “hot” news was, with a smirk. My shock turned into bedazzlement when all the students mentioned the terrorist attacks in New York City with excitement. I was there when they showed people celebrating the attacks on the streets. I was there when people of the same age and education as me celebrated the death of the governor of Punjab, and I was there when people celebrated the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Today, I am proud to say that I took part in none of these celebrations.

The death of life should not bring joy, even if it is that of a murderer. This is because publicly celebrating death only instigates revenge. It does no good. Not only that, for a human being to celebrate the death of another human being is violating the very purpose of us being human in the first place. Being human means you have the power of choice and the ability to make that choice and return love in the face of hate.

I have absolutely no sympathy or respect for Osama Bin Laden or any person who kills other people. I can feel the pain of every person affected by September 11, 2001 and I can completely understand why they would feel the need to celebrate the end of Bin Laden. But, what I still feel is that people let emotions control themselves for the lack of a better act.

The celebration of death is only the first step for someone from the other side justifying more acts of terror, and somewhere I feel someone needs to stop this cycle. I agree that this was much needed closure for many, many people, but why not take this opportunity to instead mourn the lives of the countless people who have fallen victim to the direct impact or backlash of the things Osama did. It’s because in celebration, we take emotional revenge, and even Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said not to seek revenge or speak ill of the dead and said:

“all actions are judged by the motive prompting them.”

Abu Bakr Agha

Abu Bakr Agha

A software engineer, musician, writer and activist from Islamabad, currently based in Chicago. He tweets @AB_Agha (twitter.com/AB_Agha)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.