It was hard to go though today without feeling sad. I woke up, checked my phone, and one of the very first things I saw was news about the Orlando shooting.
My hurt is manifold. When I first saw the story, I very initially brushed it off. Another shooting. What else is new? I live near Chicago; that happens on the daily.
But when I think about what that nonchalance really means about the society in which I live and how it has permeated my thought-processing and reactions, it makes me sick to my stomach. And that’s not from the fasting.
Then I looked into the story, and learned that it occurred in a club. I saw screenshots of texts the victims sent their moms when the shooter had made himself known. I thought about the death of Christina Grimmie, which happened only yesterday, in which a singer the same age as me was shot to death after one of her concerts as she was signing autographs. I’ve been to concerts before. The people going to a club or concert don’t ever expect to find a gun in their face. They go to enjoy themselves and forget about the serious troubles of the world. So many of them are kids simply trying to find themselves, and use these places as a safe space. It gives me chills just trying to imagine what that whiplash must have felt when the victims went from carefree joy to the gut-wrenching fear of a very real weapon.
My heart just felt so heavy today. So before I sat down to read Qur’an, I had a moment of silence in which I ached for the deceased and prayed for the surviving.
For those moms who continued to call their kids long after they had already been shot. For the parents of the kid who snuck out, not comfortable revealing where he was going that night, and thus didn’t get a single goodbye. For the parents who now have to cope with their surviving kids who lost their best friends and will wake up to nightmares of bullets.
For the people who went to that club, believing that it was the one place in which they didn’t have to deal with others imposing their beliefs on them, and then found out with horror that the hate followed them there. For the kid who was already out of his comfort zone before the gunman even entered the building. For the people living near by who heard the usual music replaced by gunshot after gunshot.
For the ex-wife of the shooter, who thought she was done with the man who abused her, but is now forced to relive that trauma so publicly, who may feel even the tiniest bit of guilt for cutting herself off from him. For his parents and family members, who may very well have had no idea about his motives, but who will now be known by most as the kin of a killer.
For the innocent immigrants who will now have an even harder time finding refuge from their countries because government officials will ignore the fact that the killer was a US citizen since he happens to have family members who are immigrants. For my fellow Muslims who will be hated even more for absolutely no reason other than another person who has a name with the same linguistic origin as them killed people somewhere. For the young American men who are struggling to balance their faith and life in a healthy way, but are bombarded with headlines saying that they are dangerous people. For the young American women who are thinking about starting to wear Hijab, but are now turned off completely because of all of the newfound backlash against people who outwardly look look Muslims.
For my fellow Americans, who already live in so much fear, and will now be reminded of that ever present fear. My friends in Florida who now feel that nowhere is safe for them. The regular mosque-goers who have to have their happy Ramadan high interrupted by random police investigations. My non-Muslim peers who are conditioned to see a beard and pull their kids a little bit closer.
And for me, the American who watches with horror as more and more of my peers are being inflicted with violence and the Muslim who hurts knowing people think it was the religion that gives me life that inspired these deaths.
I pray and pray that all of these victims can feel a moment of peace and sakina, even if it’s just for tonight.
I learned today that one of God’s names is “Al-Fattaah” or “The Opener.” The description of this quality was actually exactly what I needed to read to ease my heart:
“There are states and problems that are tied in a knot. There are hardened things that one cannot see through and pass through… Allah al-Fattah opens them all.”
The circular debate of either restricting gun laws or “evening out the playing field.” The pull of kids to Islam while American society pushes against any organized religion. This cycle of media attacking a minority and the weak of the minority falling into the character depicted for them. They are all knots that Allah can open, and when we get into that frustrated mindset that nothing is working, we have this quality of God to remind us that only He can truly solve everything.