On February 11th, Americans everywhere woke up to horrifying news from the evening before. The devastating murders of three young Muslim students left us in shock as we attempted to make sense of all this violence. We were left feeling unsafe in our own homes, angered by the killings of innocent victims, and saddened by the loss of three bright, caring members of our community. This tragedy has deeply impacted the lives of people everywhere, and although considerably disturbed by this horrific incident, Muslim youth have reason to be proud. Three model representatives of our Muslim community have been displaying the true essence of Islam through the examples of their everyday lives. We, as Muslim youth, finally have Muslim American role models to follow in our daily lives as we strive to become better Muslims and portray the message of Islam through our actions.
Learning about the lives of Deah, Yusor and Razan, it becomes more and more evident that these young people were extraordinary in their selfless habits, their community service projects, and how much they gave back to their local and broader communities. We live in an age when most teens and young adults focus on their own lives, with volunteerism limited to the selfish ambitions of college admissions. Students become engrossed in their own studies and family lives, often forgetting about our greater purpose as Muslims. Deah, Yusor, and Razan had all been accepted into competitive and challenging programs in the University of North Carolina, yet they strove to give back through feeding the homeless, providing dental care both in Durham and Syria, and being part of the change they wanted to see in the world.
The deaths of these three remarkable people hit us with a wake-up call. These Muslim youth didn’t have dozens and dozens of years to make an impact in the world. They didn’t have that much time to help others while developing their own bright career paths. However, they took advantage of the time they did have to make a difference. We are reminded that our time on this Earth is not guaranteed, that we can be taken away at any time, and that we shouldn’t delay any good deed. As Sakinah, a Muslim teen in Texas states, “they donated a part of their lives to help others, and Muslim youth are [now] provided the opportunity to do the same.”
This incident has been terribly frustrating as we hear all the “it was a parking dispute” nonsense and feel helpless realizing we can never get “our three winners” back. However, at the same time, we have heard encouraging messages from all kinds of people. From President Erdogan of Turkey to NBA player Stephen Curry, people from all around the world have shown us that there is hope. We can follow the legacy Deah, Yusor and Razan left for us and show the haters that we won’t back down. Instead, we will show the world who Muslims are and stay true to our heroes with a passionate dedication to serving our communities and working our way to Jannah.
Zaynub from Maryland remembers thinking about her own death after hearing about the UNC tragedy. She encourages Muslim youth to be inspired by the lives of Deah, Yusor and Razan. “What are people going to think when you pass away? How were you as a person in the deen and dunya? What did you do? We should feel motivated to…make a legacy for ourselves and not let their deaths go in vain. What will your legacy be?”
What will your legacy be?