Dr. Aneesah Nadir –
In the aftermath of the latest mass killings in Colorado Springs, San Bernardino, Savannah, and throughout the world, we ask why? There is no justification for taking the lives of innocent people. Every life is precious. The killing of one person is like killing all humanity.
Take care of yourself and your family. Exercise caution when going out but don’t let the racists, Islamophobes and fear-mongers prevent you from living a fulfilling life. Limit the amount of television you and your children watch. Constant negative news can lead to an identity crisis, self-hate, self-doubt and depression. It is important to know what is going on but keep it balanced. Also be careful about the messages you convey about your fellow Americans and American society. All Americans don’t hate Muslims. In fact Muslims are Americans. Americans of various faiths have protected the mosques around the country including in Phoenix. Many Muslim converts have family members that are Americans of various faiths including Christians and Jews. Remember, children model their parents’ behavior and perspectives.
It is important to express sadness and genuine concern as human beings. We don’t need to apologize or make excuses for people who misrepresent Islam and engage in horrific behavior. Remember every religion has members who have misrepresented their religion. When you’re asked why Muslims don’t speak out or do something about “our fellow Muslims,” remember that Muslim leaders and organizations like CAIR, ISNA and Sound Vision are speaking out and working together to let our society know that this behavior is not acceptable. Many of us are proactive rather than reactive, working to contribute to our community every day.
Participate in your community. When people know us as Muslims who are caring neighbors and coworkers and classmates, they too will speak against the hate speech. My own brother who is not a Muslim shared his experience of hearing some guys he knows talking against Muslims. He said, “Wait a minute, my sister is a Muslim.” My brother is a strong man who stood up for Muslims because he knows Muslims to be good people and do good works. Be known as a Muslim person who does good work at your job, at school and in your community. Get involved in service activities with people of other faiths. Help the homeless, the hungry and those in need. Participate in local campaigns. Engage in interfaith events. Build coalitions and stand together with others fighting injustice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” When we stand with others inshaAllah (god-willing) they will stand with us.
Learn and be prepared to exercise your legal rights should you be treated unfairly. Build a relationship with an attorney or law firm expert in addressing issues of discrimination. If you are approached by law enforcement or FBI agents respectfully let them know that you will speak with your attorney before speaking with them. Retain an attorney or obtain affordable quality legal plan coverage with 24/7 emergency access. The worst time to secure an attorney is when you need one.
May Allah have mercy. May He give comfort to the survivors and give all of us resolve and wisdom to liberate our country from violence, fear, hate, and anger. And make our world a more peaceful world. Ameen.