CAIRO - Seeking to bring a comfort to a shocked society, American Muslims have held prayers for victims of a deadly shooting spree at a school in the northeastern state of Connecticut.
We are praying people and believe in the power of prayer, Abdul-Majid Karim Hasan, imam of the Newtown Islamic Center, told The Middletown Press.We believe that prayer is the most powerful force known to man and today's prayer vigil was an effort to provide strength and support to all in Newtown.
At least 26 people, including 20 children aged 5 to 10 years old, were killed when a heavily-armed gunman stormed into their school in Newtown on Friday.
We need to ask Allah for protection all the time because we never know when something like this may happen to us or our children, Aliyah Amin, a Muslim member of the center, said.
We want to watch our environment and the people around us.
The gunman killed his mother at home and then went to the school, killing 20 students at a classroom, before shooting five other adults and killing himself.
Officials say the gunman was armed with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and used a semi-automatic rifle as his main weapon. He was also carrying two handguns, and a shotgun was recovered from a car.
The funeral services of the children killed in the school tragedy are set to be held on Monday.
This is what we are supposed to do as a Muslim community and as people of faith, said Muslim resident Mike Hasan.
It's tragic that a situation like this would happen in a school where our children would be, so we are here today extending our sincere support for the families of the victims.
A vigil was also held at Al-Fatih Academy in Reston, Virginia, in association with Muslim Mothers Against Violence (MMAV) and All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS).
"This type of senseless violence is condemned by all," the vigil's organizers said in a statement.
"As Muslims, we believe that if anyone kills one person, it is as if he/she has killed all of humanity, and if anyone saves one life, it is as if he/she has saved all of humanity.
"We must come together as People of All Faiths in solidarity and work to end gun violence and create safe and peaceful schools and communities.
Muslim leaders called for beefing up in-house security to help halt the growing domestic violence in the country.
We need to have more self-awareness of Allah, and the killing of children affects us all, Assistant Imam Yahya Abdul-Shakoor.
Security for us is very important in our places of worship and in our schools because of the times we live in.
This is a wake-up call for us to become more alert and also time to bring us closer together.
Mu'allim Abdullah, the center's director of security, underlined the need for safety and security in an uncertain environment.
Security for ourselves, for our members and our places of worship is critical in today's violent climate, Abdullah said.
But he reiterated that security sometimes is not about guns or martial arts.
Security is not a one-person thing, it's a community thing, he said.
The most intelligent weapon is not the gun or martial arts, but it's our human intelligence that we have to become more alert with our children and to make them aware of the importance of being security minded.
Mikkel Leslie, a 12-year-old student at Hamden Middle School, said that strict gun rules can be a help in the future.
I think it's unfortunate and I do believe we need to have strict gun rules to help keep people from buying guns and doing things like this, Mikkel said.
I don't know what I would have done if that were to happen in my class.
The student's call was already echoed by President Barack Obama during his speech at an interfaith vigil for the school victims on Sunday.
"We can't tolerate this anymore," Obama said.
"These tragedies must end and to end them we must change."
Hasan, the Islamic center's resident imam, said all human beings should stand as one family in the time of tragedies and overcome the slight differences.
We all come from one family and we are affected when tragedy comes to any member of the human family, he said.
We feel their pain and their hurt because all life comes from water and from water comes blood, and from blood comes all men, and from all men comes all nations.
Muslims are people who cross all racial lines no matter where we come from, we are one human family.The United States is home to a Muslim minority of between six to eight million.