“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?” (The Noble Quran 29:2)
My first reaction to this deceitful ‘Hamas on campus’ video was pure and utter disgust followed by horror. I immediately felt very small and vulnerable, as if someone had just put me in the hot seat. It is unsettling to think that a worldwide platform like YouTube is broadcasting such hateful nonsense.
How can someone compare a monstrous group like ISIS to a community of post secondary Muslim students (specifically the Muslim Student Association or MSA) who are just trying to find a family of friends where they can find support? How can someone even say that a group like ISIS is a Muslim “brotherhood”? If most people accepted that that the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) isn’t really a Christian organization then why can’t they see that ISIS is in no way a Muslim group? Personally, I can hardly believe that both are even considered human.
Have we ever asked ourselves what it means to be Muslim? What makes us different? Obviously, there are some fundamental differences, such as prayer for example, but in essence: what is a Muslim? Simply, to be human is to have desires or wants and to be Muslim is to control them. Consider this, if these “people” cannot control their hands when dealing with people that they do not like or agree with, if they cannot control their tongues or their misdirected anger, then how are they Muslim? When they stop to pray and all make sujood (bow) in different directions, how can they be called Muslim? Why don’t we question the media, why aren’t we using our intellects, why do we just mindlessly allow the media to spoon-feed us this sort of blatant and shameless propaganda? Islam is for the thinking person, we are taught to question and to strive for knowledge and truth as it should be our constant and life long pursuit.
“They have taken their oaths as a cover, so they averted [people] from the way of Allah. Indeed, it was evil that they were doing.” (The Noble Quran 63:2)
There is an inexplicable amount of worry in my heart for my fellow peers, especially Muslim brothers and sisters who are actively participating in groups like MSA. After witnessing the loss of fellow MSA members who were martyred in the Chapel Hill shooting, the unease has only grown. Martyrs, because these dedicated individuals were far more compassionate and faithful than the average young adult as selfless and active members in their community, Muslim and Non-Muslim. They were charitable leaders and they were striving in the name of Allah in order to bring relief to suffering parts of the Ummah. They were brutally targeted in spite, because of their modesty, their patience in the face of abuse and outstanding work. Though it is incredibly heart wrenching, deep in my heart I feel joy for them, because they are the lucky ones. They died in the cause of Allah. Subhan’Allah, Allah granted them an honorable departure. May Allah continue to reward them in this life and in the next by granting them Janaat-ul-Firdous, Ameen. You may wonder why I mention them, but you see those three could have been anyone…it could have been you or me.
“And do not say of those who are slain in the way of Allah that they are dead. Instead, they are alive, but you perceive not.” (The Noble Quran 2:154)
Recently, we have had police officers attending MSA meetings and events, not only at my university, but universities everywhere have been experiencing this haunting presence over their shoulders. We’ve been stripped of our right to have a safe place where we belong. After a long stressful day, sometimes all you need is to surround yourself with believers and let them hold you together and strengthen your Imaan (faith). Are we not even allowed that solace anymore? I feel robbed of my right to belong and it is terrifying. Individual students are being called out; they are being investigated and have the police at their doorsteps questioning them and their families. I am so saddened to see my fellow brothers and sisters disappearing from the meditation rooms and the MSA events out of fear. It breaks my heart to see us being torn apart by hatred and ignorance. I am disheartened that when attending a secular institution the only place where we feel accepted may now be the reason our rights and lives are at risk.
“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you.” (The Noble Quran 3:103)
The only piece of advice I can give my fellow students and MSA members is that no matter what hold on tightly to each other and surround yourselves with believers. Surround yourselves with the people who remind you of Allah SWT and don’t allow that bond to be so easily severed. If there is anything I have learned from Deah, Yusor and Razan (Chapel Hill Martyrs) it is that as long as I stay true to Allah and keep striving in His cause, He will reward me both in this life and the next, I just may not know it yet. Even though their death was tragic their life is celebrated, because they always remained united, stayed true to their beliefs and continued to struggle towards peace in helping their community and the Ummah however they could. This was their jihad and they embraced it so beautifully. Wallahi, I have tears in my eyes as I write this, because I am truly happy for them. I hope that we all can learn from them and continue in our struggle, our struggle against ourselves and to stay together as an Ummah. There is no healing anywhere else except with Allah and who better to guide us than our believing brothers and sisters.
“And He found you lost and guided you…” (The Noble Quran 93:7)
It may seem difficult right now, in fact it may seem downright impossible, but Allah promises that He is All Knowing and All Seeing. Every tear you shed is noticed, every pain you suffer is acknowledged and you are not alone. He is with us, nothing is impossible for Him and we must trust in Him. May Allah make this easy for us and grant us the most excellent rewards for our struggle, may He give the families of not only the Chapel Hill victims, but all others who have suffered and lost loved ones as they strived in the cause of Allah, Ameen.
“The believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger then they doubt not and struggle hard with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah; they are the truthful ones.” (The Noble Quran 49:15)
Aima Khan is a nineteen year old Science student residing in Ontario, Canada. She is a member of her university’s MSA and Best Buddies (volunteer program for working with special needs adults and children). She is a philosophy, politics, and women’s rights enthusiast who reflects deeply on faith and always tries to strive in the way of Allah.