To the angels of Peshawar, you are not dead.
Dearest angels of Peshawar,
It’s been a year since you stopped the world in its tracks. It’s been a year since Dec. 16, 2014 — a date ingrained into the memory of humanity, especially in the memories of your families, friends and neighbors, the Pakistani nation.
We remember that day very clearly. It felt as if the Earth itself had stopped breathing. We held our loved ones tight, tears rolling down our cheeks, eyes glued to the television as we watched in horror what was happening to you.
148 of you were massacred by a team of barbaric savages who fought their war with children — men who claimed that religion had something to do with their horrendous actions; Men who punished you for being students at a school inside a military base. But today, I write not to discuss those monsters or their political goals. I write to remember you, the children and teachers of Peshawar.
I won’t say that you were killed. Nor will l say that you are dead. You are martyrs and martyrs live among us. Allah (SWT) reminds us in the Qur’an (2:154), “And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, ‘They are dead.’ Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not.”
We are reminded that you live when we see children everywhere walking to school with their bags slung over their shoulders, chasing their friends and laughing till they can’t breathe — especially the ones in green uniforms.
We are reminded that you live when the courage with which your family and friends continue to face their loss inspires us to be brave in the face of our own challenges.
We are reminded that you live as we witness the reconstruction of your school building. Every inch of it preserves your footprints.
We are reminded that you live when we see teachers sacrifice their time and energy so that their students can excel, drawing their inspiration from teachers who sacrificed their entire selves so that their students could live.
Dear angels of Peshawar, we cannot physically see you or touch you but we know that your memories and spirits live within us. We also know that your souls rest in beautiful gardens of paradise with other martyrs — children and adults from all over the world who were robbed of their right to life too.
We pray that we can do your cause justice. We hope that we can end the epidemic of terrorism. We hope that we can make education a right that is enjoyed by children in every corner of the world, especially the children of the very terrorists who punished you for exercising your right to learn.
That will be the ultimate revenge.
Rest in peace, angels.