In the Name of Allah, the All Merciful, the Ever Merciful
A letter from the Imam of Downtown Denver Islamic Center, Masjid Al-Shuhada’ to community members, leaders and members of different faiths communities, neighbors and brothers and sisters in humanity and Law enforcement.
On Thursday, November 14th, 2019, Denver Police Officers arrested Benjamin Casillas-Rocha on suspicion of felony menacing with an assault rifle at our Downtown Denver Islamic Center DDIC (Masjid Al-Shuhada’). The violent action from Mr. Casillas-Rocha caused some trauma and fear among DDIC community members and Muslim communities in Denver and Colorado. Alhamdulellah (Thank Allah) that no one was hurt physically, however, there were many members who were traumatized by experiencing the action or even seeing it on the news.
Regardless of what motivated Mr. Casillas-Rocha, no place of worship should experience what happened, especially in a time of recent hate crimes in the US. The incident highlights the need to increase our security to ensure our community's safety, and more importantly to cooperate with Law Enforcement, leaders of other faiths, and civic society to raise awareness among all people about the sacredness and sanctity of places of worship. Therefore, as the Imam of DDIC, I echo my fellow Muslim leaders in Colorado in condemning any form of violence regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or nationality.
DDIC leadership and members including myself are grateful for the prompt response from the Denver Police Department to our call, arresting the suspect, increasing police presence at our Masjid (mosque) and ensuring that we overcome the trauma of the incident. I also echo Muslims in expressing our gratitude to all our brothers and sisters in Denver who expressed their support for our Masjid. We feel strong and safe with your presence on Friday November 15th, 2019. We are blessed to be members of the interfaith community who came and formed circles in-front of our Masjid. This incident demonstrates that we are on one hand against any violence. I also feel grateful to our neighbors who expressed their solidarity through many ways. We are grateful for your compassionate actions.
When the Qur’an describes our prophet and his message, Allah says, وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِين“And We did not send you (O Muhammad!) but as a blessing and mercy, for all beings”(Qur’an 21:107). This “all” in this verse includes all humans believers and non-believers, all imagined and non-imagined creatures.
Guided by this verse, I would like to reaffirm that this incident will not stop our mission as a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a peaceful and welcoming space of Islamic rituals and education for all. We will continue to serve our community and engage with our neighbors in Five Points and the large Denver community in serving all. We will continue to have our monthly open houses, prepare our charitable work for those in need, and partner with all to make Denver a better place for all. These incidents will not interrupt our mission.
May Allah, the All Merciful the Ever Merciful, protect us from all harms and shower all of with His mercy and blessings, Ameen!
Imam/ Muhammad A. Kolila
Downtown Denver Islamic Center