Director’s Desk: Nagasaki + 76

Seventy-six years ago today, the Japanese city of Nagasaki was destroyed by a single American atomic bomb, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945.

Nagasaki + 76 Graphic

Upwards of 40,000 human beings died instantly from the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, with even more than this amount dying from radiation poisoning in the months and years ahead (mostly) after being diagnosed with cancer.

Historians still debate whether the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to bring a Japanese surrender and a swift end to World War II. What we do know is that these previously unimaginable weapons ushered humankind into the terror of the Nuclear Age, adding a whole new vocabulary to our language: “mushroom cloud,” “mutually-assured destruction,” “nuclear winter,” “Dr Strangelove,” “doomsday machine,” “fallout shelter,” “WMDs”; and demarcations on a map of disasters — Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima — we forget at our peril.

Although the USSR is no more, and the Cold War is over, the danger from nuclear weapons is ever present. In spite of disarmament efforts by some of the planet’s nuclear-armed nations, there are still over 70,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and the cost of their production and safeguarding run into the trillions of dollars. Nuclearized India and Pakistan dangerously face-off in Kashmir, the Biden Administration attempts to restart nuclear negotiations with Iran (irresponsibly and unilaterally cancelled by the previous administration), and Israel, ignoring world opinion, still refuses to acknowledge its own nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, more and more nations, and many Muslim-majority countries (like Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, and Turkey) lured by the siren-call of nuclear power, are considering joining the exclusive nuclear club.

As usual when the subject matter is Islam and Muslim opinion, so-called “experts” in the West carry-on about the existential danger of the “Islamic bomb,” these “experts” would be the first to point out the anti-Jewish tinge to the phrase “Jewish bomb.”

From the time of their invention, first at Los Alamos, NM in the super-secret Manhattan Project, to the present day, the intrinsic genocidal nature of these weapons has been recognized by Jewish and Christian religious scholars and clergy. (See: Muslim scholars and clerics have followed, noting that the Qur’an explicitly bans the killing of innocents:

“Islam, the religion of tolerance, holds the human soul in high esteem, and considers the attack against innocent human beings a grave sin, this is backed by the Qur’anic verse (Al-Ma’idah, 5:32 ) which reads: Who so ever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.”

Yusuf al-Qaradawi

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its fundamental religious and legal beliefs, would never resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction… In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran

The first Caliph, Abu Bakr, referenced the principle of not harming God’s creation in the delivery of a speech to the Muslim armies assembled for the military campaign to capture Syria in 632:

“Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire … Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for food.”

“Bring no harm to the trees!” Can we actually try to imagine a world where natural resources are not solely exploited for the plunder of humankind, but a world in which we live in balance with the planet, and in balance with each other, staying true to the spirit of the Qur’anic injunction of “competing with one another in the doing of good deeds.” (5:48), and to imagine a world without nuclear weapons. This is the challenge before us, whether civilization dies a slow death from climate change, or an instantaneous death from an accidental or premediated nuclear war, or changes course and heeds the words of the Prophet Muhammad: “The Earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it.”

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