In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting, Malik Nadeem Abid and several other Long Island Muslims decided it was critical to present a Muslim response to the tragedy.
“We want to be part of any solution, any effort to bring down the pain and suffering of the community,” Abid, a Valley Stream businessman, said before he and about 35 people — most Pakistani immigrants or their children — prayed at a Hempstead village seniors club and spoke of the need for more gun control.
“We are part of the mosaic of society on Long Island,” he said.
Abid, New York chapter president of the California-based American Muslim Voice Foundation, said the event also was to “fight against the stereotyping” of Muslims as violent. After Nikolas Cruz, who is not believed to be Muslim, allegedly killed 17 people Feb. 14 at a Parkland high school, many said the slayings stemmed in part from Cruz’s likely mental illness.
“If a Muslim walks into the nightclub and starts shooting, that becomes Islamic terrorism,” Abid said. “That’s unfair. We do not condone any violence or terrorism.”
Mufti Muneer Ahmed Akhoon, an Islamic scholar and chairman of the Queens-based Al-Muneer Foundation, prayed in the Pakistani language of Urdu for the victims of the Parkland massacre and others killed by gun violence, said translator Syed Fahad Hussain, administrator of the foundation.
“Islam as a religion does not allow any innocent killing,” Akhoon said through the translator. “It does not even allow the killing of a small ant unnecessarily.”
Before the prayers were calls for stricter gun control laws, including universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
“Change the law so it becomes very difficult to acquire the weapon,” said Asif Rehman, an Oceanside doctor.
Abid said he was shocked when his 6-year-old daughter recently came home from school to say she had to hide under a table during what teachers and the principal at Hamza Academy in Valley Stream said was an active-shooter drill.
“Active-shooter training, first grade,” Abid said. “When she told me what happened, I couldn’t stop crying.”