On Friday, March 15th, 2019, a white terrorist walked into a masjid in New Zealand and fifty people were brutally killed. In times like these, we need allies. This terrorist attack caused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to change New Zealand’s gun laws after approximately 24 hours.
Muslims should not be terrified to attend Friday prayers.
On Sunday, April 21st, 2019 there was a terrorist attack in churches and hotels across Sri Lanka. It was Easter.
Christians should not have to be afraid to go to churches.
On Sunday, April 28th, 2019, just one week after the tragedy in Sri Lanka, a woman was murdered and three were reported to be injured during a synagogue shooting in California via CBS.
Jews should not be afraid to go to their synagogues.
As Muslims, we consider each and every one of these horrendous crimes to be hate crimes, and we do not condone them.
There’s an ayah (verse) from the Holy Qur’an that makes it known, in no uncertain terms, how vile the act of murder is. It states: ““…if any one killed a person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind…” – The Holy Quran (Chapter Five, Verse 32).
Perhaps you’re not a person of faith, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t be an ally. Here’s how YOU can be an ally to the people of faith in your life:
1. Be Aware and Read the News so You Know What People of Faith Are Going Through.
In light of the horrific events in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, California, and the rest of the world, it’s important to be up-to-date on current events. How can you help if you don’t know what’s happening?
2. Check in With Your Friends of Faith If You Have Any.
Tell us that you care, and that you know we matter too. Show solidarity by talking to the religious groups who are affected by the heinous things happening. Offer your condolences. We will do the same.
3. If You Don’t Have Any Religious Friends, Visit a Local Place of Worship and Offer Your Support.
In light of recent events involving houses of worship around the world, visit one and voice yorr support. Write about your experience or talk to your friends about it. My local Imam, Mufti Saliman Yusufi said, “For those of other faiths who want to be our allies, keep coming to the masjid. Don’t just make this a one-time thing.”
4. Attend Interfaith Sessions to Get to Know Your Religious Neighbors.
Chances are, you don’t know who we are. This is the perfect opportunity to change that.
5. If You Have the Luxury to Say That Politics Don’t Affect You, You Should Understand That Not Everyone Is so Lucky.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to say, “This doesn’t affect me” or “I hate discussing politics,” then you should be aware of your privilege. We’re not all as lucky as you are. Be an ally. Support us!
“We should never sit back and watch any injustice take place. Any issue in the world today should be a concern to all of us. We want to prevent terrorists committing these hate crimes from ever committing them again. We have to be the ones to end this hate.” New Jersey ICMC Imam Mufti Saliman said.
6. Write Comforting Letters to the People of Faith in Your Community.
Comforting words mean a lot to us, too. If you’d rather write something down, write us a letter!
7. Simply Saying, “You’re Not Alone” Can Be Enough.
Princeton University chaplain Sohaib Sultan says, “To be an ally to Muslims at this time means to listen, empathize, and be present. It means to stand up for Muslims when they hear anti-Muslim bigotry.”
8. Simply Giving Us Company During Difficult Times Can Be Enough.
If you are able to, simply being in our presence can be enough.
9. Making a Point to Say That We Are All Humans, Whether Religious or Not, Can Be Enough.
The media dehumanizes us and it’s heartbreaking. Telling us that you’re here for us and that know we’re worthy of being treated with dignity too means a lot!
10. Be Actively Involved in Your Communities.
If you don’t know what your community is going through, how can you help anyone else? Being involved in your community helps you and others around you.
11. Be Dedicated to Combating Prejudice.
It’s not easy when you’re dealing with constant prejudices. Be an ally to us and we’ll be your ally.
12. Understand the Difference Between Culture and Religion.
There’s a constant misconception in which many people seem to think that Islam is the same as culture. Understanding that this isn’t the case is a step in the right direction.
13. Just Listen.
Communication is key.
14. Ask Questions About the Qur’an.
We’re more than happy to answer your questions as long as you’re respectful.
15. Be Willing to Understand That Stereotypes Don’t Represent Truth.
We’re not the stereotypes you know. Attending vigils and interfaith sessions are a good way to educate one another.
Overall, this massacre was traumatic for the Muslim community. As an American Sri Lankan Muslim, I know that I wasn’t the only one who had difficulty sleeping the night the incidents happened in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and California. It’s scary when you know that copycat events are a possibility. It’s outrageous that the media humanizes the murderers by giving them a sob story. It’s important to attend vigils to show solidarity.
Knowing that we have allies makes me have hope in communities. We are all better united, than divided.
Inna lilahi Wa Inna Ilahi Rajioon. To Him (God) we belong and to Him we return.