With at least 30 people killed in Brussels and hundreds injured, and with dozens injured in Istanbul only a few days earlier, the world yet again watches, helpless in horror at the cruelty of the perpetrators and silent in mourning the innocent victims.
What will the response be after these latest attacks? Most people, no doubt, will mourn quietly, saddened at yet another human tragedy, for the spirit of humanity in general is always one of compassion and fortitude, even in the worst of times. However, on the other side of the coin, social media has already demonstrated that rationality will probably not be the only response. 'Keep the refugees out!' certain people may cry. 'No peace until Islam is gone!' they may scream. 'We told you this would happen,' they will retort. Individuals such as Katie Hopkins and Donald Trump have already used the attacks to further their own agendas of creating fear and panic.
Perhaps governments will react in the way they did when Paris was under attack a few months previously. Whether good or ill-intentioned, whether simply due to being gripped by fear or as an excuse to obtain more power, the authorities were given temporary permission to search anyone's house without a warrant, for people to be put under house arrest without trial, and for any website to be blocked. In the days after the Paris attacks, Muslim mothers with young babies were cursed and abused in the streets, mosques and restaurants owned by Muslims were vandalised and young Muslim girls were physically harmed.
Or worse, perhaps the Brussels attack will fuel further civilian deaths in the Middle East through increased bombing raids. We cannot, and should not fight terror with terror. We forget that if we continue dealing only with drones instead of democracy, then soon enough the wars we fuel will reverberate back to us like a devastating echo, or even stronger.
After each attack, each time a brutal terrorist group commits atrocities, the same questions are asked, same accusations levelled. Some seek to demonise an entire group - rather an entire belief system that has existed for over a millennium - for the actions of a few. Each time an attack is committed, the rift in our society grows silently stronger, the division in our communities grows ever worse, the thread that binds us all, as citizens, as human beings, gets ever thinner.
'Why are not more Muslims speaking out?' some people may angrily inquire. To them I respond, 'they are.' They speak out not only when an attack occurs, but in fact constantly. Just three days prior to the Brussels attacks the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community held its annual Peace Symposium, attended by Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of British life; politicians, soldiers, teachers and other dignitaries. The keynote speech was delivered by Mirza Masroor Ahmad, spiritual leader of tens of millions of Muslims worldwide. His speech painted a picture of Islam very different from that of terrorists:
"When Allah the Almighty is the Provider and Sustainer of all people and the Gracious and Merciful - how could it be that He desired for those who believed in Him to mercilessly murder, violently oppose or harm His Creation in any way? Of course the answer is that it is not possible."
Islam is not to blame for 'Islamic State'. The Prophet Muhammad quite literally spoke out against terrorism centuries before it even existed. "Religion is very easy," he said. "You should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded."
Today there are over thirty wars devouring vast swathes of the world, with only eleven countries currently free from involvement in conflict. These are desperate times. And those that are made to fight and witness the brutality and destruction, or those that get caught up in the facelessness of war, amidst the blazing terror, even if they survive, face the burden of carrying with them the pains and memories of their experiences for the rest of their lives. Using violence in response to violence should not be a decision made lightly. Whatever the reaction of the world after the Brussels attacks, it must be prudent. It must be steeped in reason and justice. Anything less than that will provide more 'justification' for extremists seeking to radicalise the youth. Anything less than that will mean that the blood of innocent people will be on our hands. Anything less than that will mean that we are one step closer to becoming that which we hate.