My father was at a mosque today3 April 2019
(Content Warning: death, grief, violence, Islamophobia)
My father was at a mosque today.
He is there every Friday for the Jumah congregational prayers. He prayed and listened to the Friday sermons, in a place that is still, serene and perhaps cosy. In a place where his heart is at ease. In a place where he reconnects with God.
When I got home tonight, I got to see my father. However, a little girl in Christchurch didn’t get to see hers. Because someone decided that she shouldn’t.
The 49 deceased from the Christchurch Mosque shooting today were praying and reflecting in a similar space. Their hearts at ease. Their troubles gone.
They gather. They exchange friendly banter. They pray. They listen to the Imam’s speech. Then in the midst of all of this they are disturbed. They’re defenceless. Praying to God they can return home safe and sound to their families tonight. This did not matter to the cold-blooded white-supremacist who has no regard for human life. He meticulously plans, marches into the mosque and destroys lives. He callously, cowardly and shamelessly murders.
He murders the very immigrants who were attempting to escape violence back in their home country. The very violence they were subjected to inside their safe space. Their peaceful haven. Their home. Their mosque.
I remember when the Bourke St attack occurred last year November, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged the Muslim community to take ‘proactive’ measures against the radicalisation of Muslims.
He said: “If you’re an imam or a leader in one of those communities, you need to know who those people are in your community that might be doing that. They are the infiltrators.”
The Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, said: “Let’s be real, we need people to do more and certainly that’s what we would expect from the Islamic community.”
There are three problems with these statements:
Firstly, the Islamic communities in Australia are very clear with their stance in regard to radicalisation and they consistently issue statements against attacks that are carried out in the name of Islam.
Secondly, the Islamic communities should not be held responsible for the acts of a murderer who claims to represent Islamic tenets and practices. Why should I, as a Muslim Australian, apologise for the actions of a complete stranger who murders others indiscriminately? I fail to understand why I am asked to prove my sense of humanity every time a stranger commits an act of terror?
Thirdly, following this attack in Christchurch, Morrison did not call on the average white bloke to be ‘proactive’ against right-wing extremism. He did not state that the average white community ‘need[s] to know who’ the radicalised white-supremacists in their community are. Dutton did not call on the average, non-extremist white communities to ‘do more’. However, this is reasonable considering that the average white bloke shouldn’t be held accountable for the crime committed by the Christchurch Mosque terrorist. Right?
Remembering the terrorist attack in a place of worship, I, too, am broken. Angry. Frustrated. Confused. The next time my father goes to the mosque, I, too, will be worried. I, too, will pray that he’ll be there when I get home.
Despite all the negative and intolerant sentiments all around the globe, let’s do what we do best as humans and share messages of love, peace and tolerance. Let’s pray for the victims and remain strong and patient. In spite of all, let’s stand together as Australians, in solidarity regardless of religion, ethnicity and political views.
“Oh you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Qur-an / Al-Baqarah, 2:153)
When you sleep in your cosy bed tonight, I want you to remember that there’s a little girl, living and breathing, just like me, just like you. She’ll be waiting for her father tonight. Just like I do on Friday nights. She’ll wait and wait and wait. She won’t understand why her father has not returned, why her mother’s crying in the next room. This daughter of New Zealand won’t see her father tonight or any other night.
My father was at a mosque today.
As he is every Friday for the Jumah congregational prayers. He prayed and listened to the Friday sermons. In a place that is still, serene and perhaps cosy. In a place where his heart is at ease. In a place where he reconnects with God.