A Lesson for the Muslim Community in the Wake of UNC
By Mohammad Zafar
A while back I got into an argument with my older sister, and we both stopped speaking to one another. This deeply upset our mother, but it was difficult to set aside our differences and make things right. I decided to seek counsel from a friend. He then asked me something to which I could only respond with silence: “Will you wait for a tragedy to force you to go back and talk to your sister?”
I had no reply.
I mumbled no, but still knew it would be hard for me to go forward. And he did not need to say more; I knew exactly what he meant. What if something happened to Mom—would we both still be stubborn enough to ignore one another? What if something happened to my sister—would I even for a second hesitate to come rushing to help her? What if she or I passed away without one of us having a chance to apologize to the other? What sort of guilt would we feel then?
Some time later both my sister and I set aside our differences and made things right. She came to apologize to me in Ramadan while I, unable to sleep at night knowing how hurt my mom was, eventually obliged. We had a great, perhaps the best, mediator between us.
Long after that cleared up I still remember the words my friend asked me, which leave me speechless to this day. Was I really waiting for a tragedy to force my hand? Although this is a micro example of one Muslim family, I believe we can use the same approach towards a macro problem of the Muslim community. Do we have to wait until a tragedy occurs to put aside our differences?
Our community at large is at times just like the stubborn guy I was. There are far more important issues than the ones we spend hours and hours arguing over, to no avail. And while some of us may recognize that our arguments can be trivial at times, it does not seem to stop us in a pragmatic way.
In light of recent tragic events, did it have to take the execution-style murder of three young, vibrant students for us to realize that perhaps we should not waste our time with these trivial disputes?
And while every issue deserves its due attention, it is vital to understand just how much. How much time is really needed to argue about which shaykh (religious leader) should be followed and which refuted? Or whether we should belong to this group or that group? Or if one opinion is better than the other? How much?
These arguments typically end in either party becoming too tired or simply too bored to continue. So the arguments can last hours for some people or days and weeks for others. They go as long as they need to until both sides simply become too fed up to continue.
How true the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) when he said, “I guarantee a house on the outskirts of Paradise for him who leaves an argument even if he is right,” (Sunan Abu Dawud).
Deah Barakat had a dream: “I have a dream to have a unified and structured community.”1 I am sure that Yusor and Razan would have agreed, so why not make that their legacy? These three young leaders of our community were killed but they left to us a challenge—the challenge of setting aside our differences, not rebuking others at every chance we get, and just being there for one another.
If we all hope to be in each other’s company in Paradise, why do we not start to work on it right now? Why do we wait for calamities to occur to know that?
I was able to witness firsthand how not speaking to my sister hurt my mom, which caused guilt I could not bear. Imagine if we could all see how disappointed Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala—exalted is He) becomes with us for the way we constantly treat each other? How would we bear the guilt then?
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