Not a hate crime

Deah Barakat. Yosur Abu-Salha. Razan Abu-Salha. Three names that are forever etched in the minds of every American Muslim. Three young, beautiful people with bright futures. Three community members who dedicated their lives to service. The world should have been outraged at their deaths. Instead, they were silent. The mainstream media, my liberal friends who sat right next to me in class-- you were all silent.

Deah, Yusor, Razan. Your murder was “not a hate crime.” It was just a “simple parking dispute.” With your passing, I finally realized what a Muslim life was worth in this country. Not much, it seems.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. To Him we belong and to Him we’ll return.

Mohamedtaha Omar. Adam Mekki. Muhannad Tairab. Two Muslims, one Christian. Three young Sudanese men. Three kind-hearted young men. Men who were pillars of their community, who were like big-brothers to those around them. Three young black men.

My brothers, I’m sorry I couldn’t do more. The Muslim community was quieter than we should have been at your passing. Why was your vigil so sparsely attended? Why did our ummah forget your names? I’m sorry it took your murderers for me to realize our beautiful community was an imperfect one. I had thought, just being Muslim, my life wasn’t worth that much. But you had it worse. With your passing, I realized being both black and Muslim, your’s was worth less than mine. More than 1400 years later we’re still struggling to learn that final prophetic lesson, “an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white-- except by piety and good action.”

Mohamed, Adam, Muhannad. Your death was “not a hate crime.” You were “just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. To Him we belong and to Him we’ll return.

A Muslim man was beaten in front of a mosque in Florida. A Muslim doctor was shot outside of a mosque in Houston.

“Not a hate crime.” “Not a hate crime.”

These are only the people I remember. There are more names I've forgotten with the passing of time. There are deaths I don't even know about.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. To Him we belong and to Him we'll return.

Nabra Hassanen. My dear sister Nabra. Murdered in the last ten days of Ramadan. Every Muslim’s favorite month. Our most blessed month. A month of warmth, unity, and love. Murdered after a late-night trip to IHOP, in between prayers at the local mosque. It was a night, I'm sure, filled with slap-happy humor, laughter, and bellies full of too much food. How many Ramadan nights have I spent like that?

Nabra, your murder was “not a hate crime.” Just a mild case of “road rage.”

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. To Him we belong and to Him we’ll return.

Nabra’s death marked the first day of my mosque’s youth program. Seventy-five kids gathered to make decorations for Eid. It should be a summer filled with fun-- with sleepovers, crafting, games and sports. But that isn't possible for these kids. How can it be? After hearing about Nabra’s murder, youth group leaders had to figure out a way to discuss this with our kids. It doesn’t matter that most of them are still too young to drive. The way they look, the way they dress, the way they pray puts a target on their back. That is their reality

It makes me angry to think the 12-year-old girls in my youth group have to think about this. It makes me angry to think that this should ever become their concern.

The only thing that lets me move past this anger? My faith. I remember the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) unyielding optimism and kindness in the face of oppression and hardship.

“Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful,” the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said. “Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”

I let go of my anger.

It's strange isn't it? The one thing they attack me for is the one thing that keeps me from hating them.

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