Family members of the three young Muslims shot to death in North Carolina on Tuesday are grappling with the senseless tragedy.
During a powerful speech at a vigil on Wednesday night, the brother of one of the victims revealed that faith is what is keeping the family strong.
Farris Barakat told the thousands gathered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that he had planned to spend time with his brother, Deah, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. But Deah, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, never made it to that meetup. They lost their lives the day before, allegedly at the hands of a neighbor who identified as an atheist.
"I’ve seen people try to apologize for this act when trust me, as a Muslim, I know that one act cannot define a mass," Farris said, according to a video posted on Facebook. "Any time someone comes to me, and it’s been so many people, I tell them, 'Alhamdulillah,' which means, 'Praise be to God.' We say that in good and in bad, knowing that God is the most wise. Because I know I couldn’t make sense of it, I know many others couldn’t make sense of it either. So we depend on God the wise in this time."
The brother marveled at the fact that, in such a short time, Deah had managed to live an incredibly vibrant life: He was a dental student with a heart for helping other people. Farris encouraged the mourners to not "fight fire with fire" by responding to the violence with more hate.
"If, and it was quite possible, that this was an act based off of evil and a scared ignorant man, do not let ignorance propagate in your life," he said. "Do not reply to ignorance with ignorance. Become an amazing, bright intellectual leader that I know this university can create."
Read the full text of Farris’ speech below:
I’ve seen people try to apologize for this act when trust me, as a Muslim, I know that one act cannot define a mass.
I thank you all for coming here, I literally can’t see the end of the crowd. My family thanks you for coming here.
Yesterday, we got news that maybe my brother, his wife and Yusor’s sister, Razan, who was visiting, might be caught up in an incident here on campus. Our mom was comfortable with the idea, she said, "I feel good. I know nothing happened."
A little roller coaster ride later, we find ourselves in the same spot.
Any time someone comes to me, and it’s been so many people, I tell them, "Alhamdulillah," which means, "Praise be to God." We say that in good and in bad, knowing that God is the most wise. Because I know I couldn’t make sense of it, I know many others couldn’t make sense of it either. So we depend on God the wise in this time. We say Alhamdulillah because I know when I imagine my brother now, with his bride, Yusor, and Razan, they are elated and happy in the highest levels of paradise. We’re taught that life is a bridge. We don’t want to build on the bridge. We want to build when we get there. So my brother, his wife and Razan, lived a life when they were planning for the next life. They didn’t build for the bridge, they got to their destination. They are home. And you have no idea how much comfort that brings us.
Literally I’ve laughed at how amazing it is for my brother to first, get married before me and then become so passionate about dentistry and see him light up when he talks about his UNC buddies here. He always beat me, so he beat me home.
And I’m sure, the only thing that makes me cry, really, is when I see Yusor’s friends. It just that to me doesn’t make sense. When I see them cry, I just can’t handle it. Them, us, Abu-Salha family, we’re all in the same boat. We’re happy, we know life is short.
I plead that you live in their legacy, that you share the good that you know of them. And take the message my mom wanted to make public and do not fight fire with fire. If, and it was quite possible, that this was an act based off of evil and a scared ignorant man, do not let ignorance propagate in your life. Do not reply to ignorance with ignorance. Become an amazing, bright intellectual leader that I know this university can create.
The Facebook group I first created, I said maybe let’s use "Our Three Angels." I thought that was overused and they technically are angels. They sure acted like it sometimes. But they are literally winners. They’ve won, they’ve passed the challenge that is this life and literally I ask you to see the comforts in that.
We’re going to cry because we miss them. I had an appointment with them today at 2 that I had to miss. I don’t know what I’m going to do on Saturday mornings, when it’s time for family breakfast. And today I’ve reached for my phone so many times to text them. Like, "Yo man, NFL starts, Chris Rock. These guys are talking about ..." Oh.
I was so happy this message is out that these three individuals lived an amazing life. And I wanted to share that experience with my brother. And literally, this is kind of what hurts me the most right now, is that I just wish he were here to see it all.
At some point we are going to move on with dignity. Be the students I know UNC Chapel Hill and NC State Central and whoever else is here can make you be. And be citizens of this world, because we’ve lost three great citizens of this world and of this country. But I think they’ve inspired thousands.
I thank you for your time and your support. And God bless you all. And if you see someone crying tell them Deah is happy, Yusor is happy, Razan is happy.
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