My younger brother has recently made it a habit to attend our local mosque in order to pray every fajr and isha prayer. This means that every morning and every evening, he walks up the steps to the masjid to pray with the few brothers and sisters who join in for the same prayers.
Every Friday afternoon, five of my brothers make it a priority to attend Jummah prayer at the local mosque. Every Ramadan, my mother and I go and pray taraweeh with dozens, if not hundreds of other Muslims at our local mosque.
When Eid arrives, we attend morning prayers with hundreds, if not thousands of fellow Muslims celebrating the holiday.
Understand, that I am one Muslim woman, talking about one Muslim family and our relationship with our local mosque.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, each with their own unique experiences and relationships with their local mosques. So, when we watched as 50 of our brothers and our sisters and our children get shot to death in a local mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, it’s very easy for us to imagine the same thing happening at our own local mosque because there is so much of us that we see in them.
A worldwide collective of people from all walks of life bound by the same tragedy, terrified, as we saw decades-worth of hatred spewed at our people physically manifest into a violence we cannot contain. And that is the crux that hovers over this entire tragedy. We may spend all the time we want remembering the victims, humanizing the heroes, and praising the white leaders for their responses, but the truth is there is a hatred in this world that haunts Muslims around the globe, and we are learning that open, unchecked, violent hatred only breeds more of the same.
The evidence is here for all to witness. The aftermath of the New Zealand mosque shooting saw multiple attacks of mosques across the U.K. and the U.S. Five days after the Christchurch Mosque shootings, five different mosques throughout the city of Birmingham were attacked by currently unknown assailants who reportedly used sledgehammers to smash windows at the masjids. One published article mentioned, “In the week following the shootings, which killed 50 people, hate crimes targeting Muslims in the UK increased by 593 percent, according to the charity Tell Mama.”
Additionally, on the 24th of March, The Islamic Center of Escondido in Southern California reported an attempted arson. A suspect is yet to be found and charged, but they left behind some graffiti referencing the Christchurch shootings they were honoring. A representative from CAIR commented, “It is disturbing enough that some sick individual would attempt to burn a house of worship to the ground, but referencing the slayings in New Zealand is beyond the pale,” Dustin Craun, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in San Diego, said in a statement.”
If we take anything away from the escalating acts of violence against people of faith, particularly in light of the recent attacks against churches across Sri Lanka, it’s that we cannot succumb to divisive tactics adopted by those determined to hate. After all, innocent lives are at risk.