It has only been a few days since the news of Nabra Hassanen’s abduction and murder was released. Much of our community is still in shock, and the usual waves of grief, anger and fear are overcoming us as we process the fact that yet another young Muslim life was unjustly ended.
But I’m noticing a certain message circulating around social media (in various forms) which is being associated with Nabra’s death, when it actually has nothing to do with it — one that stresses the need for Muslim men to step up their game and protect their Muslim sisters-in-faith. And although that may or may not be true, I think this is the wrong time to be saying it. These thoughts should not be a reaction to this innocent 17-year-old’s death.
Saying this immediately after her death, especially in an accusatory tone, implies that Muslim men are to blame or that Nabra would still be alive if she had Muslim brothers surrounding her. Nabra was with a group of friends; she wasn’t walking alone completely unprotected. Even if she were with a group of strong Muslim men, her death would not have been delayed — it was her time to go, and we believe that with certainty as Muslims. Yes, maybe the manner of her death would not have been so violent and terrifying, but we don’t know for sure. She was brutally murdered in cold blood, and that is nobody’s fault except the killer’s.
There are also people blaming her friends, saying that they shouldn’t have run away, especially if some of them were boys. I am seeing people posting online that they want to raise their sons in such a way that they will protect women no matter where they are and what dangers they are faced with. But the “fight or flight” response of the human mind and body is extremely strong in dangerous situations, and none of us know what we will do when faced with a threat to our lives until we are actually in that situation. These were kids. It was normal, natural and expected for them to run away, even if some of them were boys. And from the information that is out there so far, it doesn’t seem like Nabra was being targeted specifically by the killer at first; rather, she tripped and fell, which made her fall behind the group. The rest of the group probably didn’t even know that she was left behind, since they were all running for their lives.
Some people are also saying that all Muslim women should take self-defense classes, and while I agree with this, once again I think it is the wrong time to be saying it. Our community is in shock, and those of us who wear the hijab are experiencing a heightened level of fear. We need time to process everything that happened to this innocent girl. It also implies that maybe this wouldn’t have happened if Nabra was trained in self-defense, which is yet another way to blame her, even if it is an indirect and unintentional manner. I have personally taken a pretty lengthy self-defense class in the past, but at a moment like that, if an enraged and violent murderer were chasing after me with a weapon, I honestly think I would just run.
It’s natural for human beings to look for an answer or for someone to blame when this kind of tragedy occurs, we just need to channel those needs in the right direction. Our answers and solace will come from Allah, and the blame is only to be placed on the killer and anyone who directly enabled him. The entire Muslim community, men included, are suffering and grieving as a result of this loss. We must stick together and support one another instead of pointing fingers. This will also make it easier for us to collectively seek justice for Nabra’s death.
“We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient: those who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.’ Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” [Qur’an 2:155-157]
May Allah (SWT) grant Nabra the highest ranks in Jannat al-Firdaus and help her family as they try to cope with this massive loss. And may we, as an ummah, always look for avenues of unity, not division. Ameen.
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