UNC Chapel Hill shooting empowers Islamic communities

Compiled by the Retriever Weekly Senior Staff

Muslims must peacefully confront irrational hate

The shooting at UNC Chapel Hill has ignited sparks in Muslim youths who want to bring about change. They wish to accomplish this mission through peace, charity, and education.

More than two weeks after the attack, the murder of three Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill remains prevalent in the hearts and minds of Islamic communities around the country. Authorities have yet to classify this act as a hate crime or not, but many Muslims are fearful that such incidents will only increasingly inflict their communities.

Muslims need to face these crises with an open-mind and an open-heart. Even if others are consumed by hate, Muslims cannot stoop to that level. They can’t afford to. They have to remain strong and try to dispel the stereotypes via peaceful actions and community outreach.

On February 23 and 26, the Masjid of Ivy City, an Islamic center in Washington D.C., was vandalized. Both times windows were broken, and holy books were found damaged.

According to WTOP Online, Mohammed Mobaidin, the director of the center, found that the “fencing used inside the mosque was broken, a podium was in shambles, and a very large piece of religious artwork was stolen.”

Although Muslims are apprehensive of the crimes affecting their communities, many choose to remain calm and united. Dar-Al-Taqwa, a mosque in Ellicott City, hosted the United Youth Awareness Night for Chapel Hill on Friday, August 27 at 8 p.m., which was organized by 27 mosques in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Over 300 men, women and children came out to the event. Many inspirational speeches were given, and activities were geared towards teaching the youth how to face different and difficult scenarios.

It was uplifting to see the youth want to bring about change. College, high school and middle school students initiated plans to go out and help the less fortunate in the city and shelters. They discussed setting up committees that would write blogs, organize peaceful protests and build outreach programs to educate others on the true views of Islam.

There were moments when the event seemed a bit disorganized, but the good intentions shined through nonetheless. Muslim communities are attempting to take the appropriate steps in order to dismantle the stigma of terror and hate that is unjustly associated with them.

Overall, The United Youth Awareness Night for Chapel Hill was a success because, amidst the grief and terror Muslims have been facing world-wide, they showed strength, unity and love. On top of that, they made concrete steps toward dismantling unfair ideas about themselves.

Sheikh Yaseer, one of the guest speakers, echoed the main message of the event. “Islam is about peace, love, respect and honor. We will be kind and merciful to our guests, regardless of their faith. We will exchange hate only with mercy. We will show that we are proud of who we are.”

Sister Ayesha, the teacher of the three slain Muslim students, encouraged the youth to carry on the mission of the UNC Chapel Hill shooting victims, Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. Ayesha said, “Do not live in fear. Be a good and strong person. Love those who hate you and want to harm you.”

Muslims are starting to speak out and defend themselves. Contrary to the stereotypes that have been pressed on Islam, Muslims will not fight fire with fire, and they will not fight ignorance with more ignorance. Through love, mercy and knowledge, Muslims will break down the hateful walls that surround them.