Messages From The Three Beautiful Souls in Chapel Hill

Imam Ali, may God ennoble his face, said: “Work for your life as if you live forever, and work for your afterlife as if you die tomorrow.”

As we struggle to absorb the shocking news of the tragic loss and senseless murder of the three Muslim students from the University of North Carolina at the Chapel Hill campus, I reflect quickly on who they were. Deah initiated a dental relief campaign for Syrian refugees (the campaign had a goal of 20K, and reached 30K, but in the past few hours, it jumped to 110K). Razan helped make a video about optimism and loving/defending the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his beautiful Sunnah. Yusor and Deah spent a weekend educating local community kids about dental hygiene and spent another night providing free dental supplies and food for the homeless in Durham, North Carolina.

These are just examples. The three were prophetic emulations of living life purposefully. Allah only knows the extent of their Baraka (hence Mr. Barakat). Allah only knows how many lives of their American neighbors they touched. Allah only knows how many Syrians and Palestinians are praying for this Syrian-American brother and those two Palestinian-American sisters (not limiting to certain countries) for their devotion to such causes. Their faces and characters exuded love, mercy, and insha’Allah acceptance from the All Merciful! This is their legacy. This is their path of living and dying as Muslims.

Deah prayed for a structured community and had a dream. “I have a dream!”..Remember?!

Yusor, Razan, and Deah are victims of a dark reality that allows hate speech, has double standards on humanity, and uses principles instead of upholding them. At the same time, we are invited to internalize this tragedy in what we prioritize as a community. I ask myself, was I there for Michael Brown or Eric Garner? Did I have a non-reactionary approach to bigoted media? Will I work with my fellow community members, Muslim and non-Muslim, to cross imaginary lines of division? And am I going to work within my capacity for a vision that fulfills Deah’s dream?

With humility and deep sadness, we mourn these beautiful souls and ask Allah for strength to not fall prey to negative reactions, but to emulate the prophetic response to our loss: prayer, reciting and contemplating the Quran, standing by their families, and walking in their footsteps of positive activism for the community.

The newlyweds, Deah and Yusor, with Razan, would not want us to be afraid. Their gracious smiles are an inspiration and I feel that all of the above are their messages to us as they meet their Lord. I will not wait for the media to tell their story. We can all tell it with their love and devotion. May Allah shower them with mercy and forgiveness, and may He strengthen their families! Ameen.

Thank you, Deah, Yusor, and Razan! I will tell my children about you!

To Allah we belong and to Him we return!


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