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Who is Anila Daulatzai? Students Urge Boycott of Southwest Demanding Justice For Muslim Professor

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A video of Professor Anila Daulatzai being forcefully removed from her flight by law enforcement personnel, who were called in by Southwest Airlines employees, recently went viral. Professor Daulatzai, who is a Pakistani American Muslim, is pregnant and was hospitalized after her traumatic experience. She said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she was mistreated after she told the crew on a Sept. 26 flight to Los Angeles that she was allergic to dogs in the cabin.

She said the crew initially agreed she could sit far away from the dogs, but later told her they were concerned about her being on the plane. Southwest Airlines said Daulatzai told flight attendants she had a life-threatening allergy. Daulatzai denies this and has filed a lawsuit. Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA) charged her with disorderly conduct. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and signatories from several national organizations have called for changes in policy and practice on the part of Southwest Airlines and the MDTA. The letter stated, “Ms. Daulatzai’s mistreatment by Southwest Airlines is part of a pattern and practice of profiling. Between 2015 and 2016, over a period of just six months, several Muslim, Arab, and South Asian passengers reported incidents of being rebooked for their appearance, removed from a flight for speaking in Arabic in a private phone conversation or simply for asking to switch seatsSAALT terminated its 7-year relationship with Southwest and gave back $10,000 in grant funding. 

This following post was written by Amara Majeed, a student at Brown University, and a former student of Professor Anila Daulatzai, who created the Boycott Southwest Campaign.

– Editor

This past spring, as I took “Towards a Critical Muslim Studies” taught by Professor Daulatzai, one of the myriad of topics that we learned about was institutionalized racism and Islamophobia and the ways in which Muslims have been racialized and criminalized during the War on Terror, and prior.

Watching a pregnant Anila being grabbed from her seat by her belt loop, so violently that her pants had been completely ripped open, was heartbreaking and painfully emblematic of the systems of oppression that Anila teaches her pupils to critically understand.

Arguably even more painful was Southwest’s shameful, disgusting cover-up. The incident was never about Professor Daulatzai’s nonexistent “life-threatening pet allergy.” Anila is a person often racialized as of a Middle Eastern descent; one of the very few images of her that existed on the internet was of her wearing a hijab. In other words, this was never about a fictitious allergy: this was about profiling, racism, and Islamophobia.

For Southwest to flip the narrative so completely, to paint Anila as a crazy, “combative” passenger and themselves as the kind-hearted organization that simply wanted to save her from a life-threatening allergy is absolutely disgusting, deceptive, and is reflective of the orientalist tropes about Muslims that the airline espouses.

The news has been saturated with stories of this particular incident – but I think it’s important for the world to know the answer to the question: who is Anila Daulatzai?

Professor Daulatzai isn’t just any professor. She is undoubtedly one of the most influential and remarkable individuals in my life.

I remember feeling extremely impressed when I first heard about Professor Daulatzai’s qualifications. She did three Master’s degrees: in Public Health, Anthropology, and Islamic Studies, and then, a PhD in Anthropology. Finally, she did five years of fieldwork in Afghanistan.

As I walked into her office, I remember feeling slightly intimidated. I didn’t even have a specific question to ask her – I felt that I was likely taking away from the schlew of other important appointments she needed to have, papers that she needed to grade, books that she needed to write.

Professor Daulatzai spent three and a half hours with me that day. Three and a half hours of helping me explore my Muslim identity, of making me feel that I had a safe space as a visible Muslim woman in Trump’s America. This is just one anecdote. This is just one, singular narrative that is emblematic of the type of professor- not even, the type of person that Anila Daulatzai is. The type of character and ethics that she has is truly remarkable, and I can honestly and without doubt say that I have met very few people that I admire as much as her. I’m not sure if this seems a little exaggeratory or superfluous, but I can only say that she is someone that you need to know to believe.

And I know that I am not the only student that feels this way. Many of Professor Daulatzai’s students, myself included, have fought their universities for her to secure a more permanent position. At Brown, we wrote letters to the administration, saturated with our individual experiences with Anila. We scheduled meetings with university officials while we were all swamped with exams during the pinnacle of finals week – to express how crucial of a role Professor Daulatzai played in our collegiate experience, to let them know how much pain it caused for us to see her go. And that’s the thing about Anila Daulatzai: there’s just something exceptional about her. Something so exceptional that her students are more than willing to spend their time and energies fighting for her, because we know that ultimately, the bodies of knowledge and understandings that she has imparted on us are things that we could never repay her for.

And we will not stop fighting for her: not then, not now.

During one of my last conversations with Professor Daulatzai, I remember her telling me that we people of color should not get too comfortable in this country. That at the end of the day, we mean nothing to this nation, this government, this institutionalized system. How our blood is too cheap, our bodies are too worthless – they will easily and without hesitation be discarded.

How heartbreakingly ironic this conversation seems now, as I rewatch her body, which officials knew to be one carrying a baby, being violently grabbed, thrown, and dragged around.

Southwest Airlines prides itself for its cheap national flights, which are especially appealing to students. Southwest, here is what I want you to know: we are not interested in cheap flights if that entails that the bodies of people of color and Muslims are also so cheap.

If our bodies are able to be yanked out of our seats so violently, if even the mention of pregnancy is not enough for undue violence to be used against us, if our narratives are erased and subject to whitewashed cover-ups: then we do not care for your cheap flights.

We do not care for your so-called Southern hospitality (which is either fictitious, or only applicable to a certain kind of people).

We do not care for your service.

We demand that Southwest Airlines issue an official apology, not some staged cover-up, to Anila Daulatzai, acknowledging the racist and Islamophobic roots of this horrible incident.

We demand that Southwest Airlines condemn police brutality.
We demand that Southwest Airlines implement anti-racism, anti-Islamophobia, and implicit biases trainings for all of its employees working on its aircrafts.

We demand justice for Anila Daulatzai. We demand justice for passengers of color, Muslim passengers, and passengers racialized as Muslims that are subject to this form of institutionalized Islamophobia and racism.

Until these demands are met, we refuse to fly on an airline that treats people of color and Muslims in this way. We refuse to be profiled. We refuse to be complicit in and happy consumers of institutionalized Islamophobia and racism: systems of oppression that result in violence against black, person of color, and Muslim bodies.

Please sign onto the Boycott Southwest campaign that I have made for her.
 Amara Majeed can be reached at amara_majeed@brown.edu.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ali Zaidi

    October 23, 2017 at 7:59 PM

    Incredibly shameful behavior by Southwest and the marshalls on-board.

  2. Avatar

    Amatullah

    October 24, 2017 at 1:40 AM

    I’m almost always frustrated as to why and how the other passengers make this happen?! If it continues this way, the world will very soon perish with people being killed in front of others while they either ignore or film it in their phones! Sick, sick world.
    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  3. Avatar

    AF

    October 24, 2017 at 10:00 AM

    Someone with a life-threatening allergy can go into anaphylaxis and die, EVEN with an epipen.

    The airline was exactly right to ask her to leave the plane if there was any possibility of allergic reaction to dogs who were already on board.

    It is a good idea for Muslims NOT to fabricate or exaggerate allergies to avoid dogs, due to unforeseeable results like this one.

    • Avatar

      Pamela

      June 3, 2018 at 8:25 AM

      Sadly this woman was so in the wrong. I was on this flight sitting 1 seat in front and she clearly told the attendant she did not have an epipen on her and that she was concerned she may have an allergic reaction being near the dog’s. The second flight attendant came back & spoke to her & she stated she was deathly allergic to dog’s and could feel her throat tightening just walking near the owners. She stated she felt she would be perfectly fine sitting in this seat position which is far enough away from the creatures. The marshal then came back and suggested she take another flight for her safety and the safety of the other passengers since she claimed she was ill prepared to even treat herself for any allergy that may arrise. He then told her she would have to exit the plane before it could depart, that the representative would assist her in getting the next flight out to her destination which had no other passenger’s other than human’s. She flat out refused him, No, she insisted she would not exit the plane, she paid her seat ticket, had to meet her father for therapy and she was going to meet him, and for him to go away and stop harassing her, she was with child, she was a professor and knew her rights. The Marshall again insisted for her own safety that she leave the flight, she was very egocentric and then ranted saying they would have to drag her, kicking, screaming, off the plane, half Arabic, half English. It actually began to concern several other people due to her hateful words she was spewing and multiple people told her for the safely of her unborn child it would be beneficial for her to stay safe & her unborn to remain safe. She became combative towards any one who spoke kindly towards her, including both attendants and the Marshall. Minutes or so later 2 MTA police officer’s arrived and confronted her, asked her to please rise from the seat, gather who bag, and come with them. She became very arrogant and refused to move from her seat, securing herself with the seat belt tightly, much tighter than you would imagine for a pregnant woman. She contested she would be fine, she removed herself from any danger, even thanked them for their concern, however was not going to exit the aircraft. The officer’s both asked her politely several times to leave the seat and come with them, she spoke in Arabic, English more citing some bible or koran scripture. The officer’s instructed her a final time to 1st stand up, gather your belongings and walk off the plane with us now, or we will have to remove you. She refused and from that exact second the taller of the two reached down, unbuckled the seat and stood her straight up from the seat, asked where is your bag, do you have a bag, she began shouting what are you doing, what are you doing, I am going to go be with my sick father, you pulling my pants down, stop, stop, stop, No, what are you doing, and the video picks up. Now I can understand why the video was not on for the 1st 15minutes or so, however they missed the attendants, the Marshall, or the police officers arrival. Even in the video it depicts how many people were asking her to walk, show them you are walking, as many also were telling her to comply with what the Marshall had asked of her, or the police would surely show up. I do believe witnessing it she felt the Marshall was just going to walk off and allow her to stay on the plane. What you see is only a short, very short ordeal of what the passengers in the last 2 to 3 rows dealt with for 20 minutes or more. She was absolutely in the wrong, had told them she had a severe allergy to dog’s and for the safety of her, her unborn, and the other passengers she was asked to take the next flight.

    • Avatar

      T.J Detwiler

      June 5, 2018 at 8:43 PM

      1. Although she should have complied with the officers, the amount of force used was unnecessary. I’m not sure what occurred before the cameras began rolling (neither is anyone else), but it began with forceful removal. She is entitled to know why she is being removed beforehand unless she is posing an immediate threat to herself or others.

      2. Officers should have been a bit more sympathetic after they ripped a woman’s pants open leaving her exposed to other passengers. I’m sure not many of you would have as much “hustle” as you believed she should have.

      3. AA’s policy is to remove you if you have a “life threatening” allergy w/o proper medical certification. She claims she did not tell them it was life threatening.

      4. I wish she had complied with officers for her own sake b/c the officers showed now respect for her pregnant body. I’m assumi she must not have had the genetics needed to be treated with respect.

      5. Imagine someone telling you “walk” with that type of grip around your chest? …not as doable as some would like to pretend.

      6. We could pre-judge the “I’m a professor” comment as elitist. But we often forget that ppl of color often HAVE to use their title to be treated with common decency.

      7. Comply with officers. File grievances against airlines when appropriate.

      -Signed: A Christian American Woman

  4. Avatar

    Usman

    October 24, 2017 at 11:00 AM

    I was in a court room last week and witnessed something that was analogous to the situation that occurred on the Southwest airline flight. An African American woman and her infant sat down behind me. The infant started to make noise and slapping the wooden courtroom benches loudly. The marshal politely asked the woman to take the baby out of the courtroom. The woman became defiant and refused to leave. She became argumentative, loud, and started causing a scene. The marshal then directly said, “I am now not telling you to leave the courtroom, but ordering you.” The woman still refused to comply. The marshal than called a supervisor who aided in removing the woman and baby. When I observed the situation a few thoughts came to my mind:

    1. That is the Judge’s courtroom and the marshal enforces the judge’s will

    2. When she was asked to leave the courtroom the first time, by her refusing, she was disrespecting law and order irrespective the reason she was asked to leave.

    3. By her creating an unnecessary scene, it did not reflect well on her.

    Southwest owns the airplane and at the time of flight, that plane belongs to the Captain. If the Captain orders someone off the plane, irrespective the reason, then the person should peacefully comply with his or her order. If that person feels a violation of civil rights or injustice is being done, then that grievance can be filed and fought through proper channels. Argument, defiance, and disobedience of a direct command from an air marshal who is only enforcing the Captain’s will amounts to trespassing and transgression.

    I watched the video of the forceful removal of this woman. She did not comply with multiple requests and continued to defy orders. If she had quietly and promptly exited the plane, then no physical force would have been required. I sensed her ego and arrogance prevented cooperation with the Captain’s order. Albeit, I am sensitive to the fact she is a pregnant Muslim sister. However, her being a Muslim Pakistani is a red herring, and now being conveniently utilized as a defense tactic.

  5. Avatar

    H. Munster

    October 24, 2017 at 4:33 PM

    I can’t add anything to the masterful dissection above other than complete agreement. And as far as a boycott, any indication that arrogant, entitled, selfish and childish individuals will refuse en masse to fly a certain airline will only encourage me to travel on that airline as much as possible…

  6. Avatar

    Amatullah

    October 25, 2017 at 3:07 AM

    I have NO idea whatsoever why MM deleted my earlier comment. Explanation please, MM team? I’m sure there was nothing which violated your policy.

    I wouldn’t disagree with the facts mentioned above BUT first things first, the article above clearly mentioned the fact that “life-threatening” allergy was fabricated and not told by Anila.
    Secondly, a person saw a woman in the courtroom who wouldn’t oblige, another thinks it was right on the part of Airplane because the woman could DIE, well, what then are your explanations for the below?
    “Between 2015 and 2016, over a period of just six months, several Muslim, Arab, and South Asian passengers reported incidents of being rebooked for their appearance, removed from a flight for speaking in Arabic in a private phone conversation or simply for asking to switch seats”
    If its easy for her ethnicity to be “conveniently utilized as a defense tactic”, I’ll say its easier to call it that and turn a blind eye to the ever-growing racial profiling against Muslims.

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    -X-X-X-X-

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      October 27, 2017 at 9:55 AM

      Dear Sister

      The comment was not deleted but for some reason the rules setup flagged it for approval which we have done. Sometimes a delay happens when a moderator doesn’t reach the comment due to other engagements and so the commenter thinks it has been deleted.

      -Aly
      Team Lead
      Comments Team

    • Avatar

      AJ

      October 28, 2017 at 1:13 PM

      Amatullah,

      It was clear from a Wa Po report right after this incident that airline crew believed or were led to believe that she had a life threatening allergy. There were already dogs on the plane.

      If someone with a life-threatening allergy is triggered, he or she can die from a rebound reaction even after an epipen is administered. In flight, it is impossible to administer proper follow-up treatment. You need an emergency room for that.

      Had this woman died or been injured by an allergic reaction and staff knew that there was this possibility, she or her family could have sued the airline and there would have been much negative publicity. The plane would have diverted its flight path and other passengers would have been greatly inconvenienced.

      Dog allergies are fairly rare, but it is no surprise that many Muslims seem to have them. I have seen adult Muslims run pell mell across rooms to get away from dogs. I have seen Muslims allow their children to dart into the street when a dog walks by. We have all heard of Muslim drivers refusing to carry service dogs in their vehicles in gross violation of our laws protecting the disabled.

      The assumption of most non-Muslims is probably that our “college professor” does not like dogs and thought that claiming an allergy would help her get her seat changed. She made too great an issue of it and actually convinced the flight crew that she had a serious allergy that could endanger her life or health. She then refused to comply with instructions to exit the plane.

      She (and Muslims) are not getting any sympathy for this.

      Quoting Niemoller’s poem, which refers to people who were beaten, imprisoned and gassed to death by the Nazis, is inappropriate.

  7. Avatar

    karpenter

    October 26, 2017 at 10:11 PM

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ln-southwest-airlines-woman-removed-20170927-story.html
    From The LaTimes Article
    Anila Daulatzai of Baltimore was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, obstructing and hindering a police officer and resisting arrest, said Lt. Kevin Ayd of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

    Daulatzai was transported to the Anne Arundel County District Court, where she was released on her own recognizance, Ayd said. She had been removed from the plane at the request of its captain.

    It’s Good That People Are Finally Being Charged For This Type Of Behavior

  8. Avatar

    Bryan Winters

    November 9, 2017 at 1:16 PM

    Wow, interesting article. Can anyone whether there is a university course entitled, “Towards a Critical Christian Studies” taught in a Muslim majority nation about institutionalized Christianophobia and the ways in which Christians have been racialized and criminalized during the the past thousand years?

  9. Avatar

    PAMELA D

    January 30, 2018 at 10:23 PM

    I ALWAYS FLY SOUTHWEST AIRLINES AND THEY ARE THE BEST. THIS LADY HAD AN ATTITUDE AND REFUSED TO LEAVE WHEN THEY TOLD HER. WHO GIVES A DAMN IF SHE IS A PROFESSOR SINCE SHE WAS TELLING THEM SHE WAS. DOES THAT MEAN HER BEHAVIOR WAS JUSTIFIED AND SHE CAN DO WHAT SHE WANTS. WELL SHE CAN’T BECAUSE SHE IS A NOBODY. IF SHE HAD A DEADLY ALLERGY TO DOGS THEN DON’T FLY OR BETTER YET SINCE SHE THOUGHT SO HIGHLY OF HERSELF BEING A PROFESSOR THEN SHE NEEDS TO GET HER OWN PLANE. THE IDIOT HELD UP THE PLANE AND WHO IS TO SAY HOW MANY PASSENGERS HAD A CONNECTING FLIGHT. THIS WAS AN EXCUSE AND SOUTHWEST AIRLINES HAD EVERY RIGHT TO PHYSICALLY REMOVE THE JERK FORCEFULLY SINCE SHE REFUSED TO WALK. SHE MADE HERSELF LOOK LIKE A MORON AND SOUTHWEST AIRLINES SHOULDN’T APOLOGIZE TO HER. SHE NEEDS TO APOLOGIZE TO SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FOR HER TERRIBLE BEHAVIOR. SHE NEEDS TO BE EMBARRASSED HOW SHE ACTED.

  10. Avatar

    PAMELA D

    January 30, 2018 at 10:33 PM

    DAULATZAI EMBARRASSED HERSELF AND LOOKED LIKE A FOOL, THEREFORE SHE GETS NO JUSTIFICATION FROM MANY OF US. MUSLIMS ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT WILL AGREE WITH HER ACTIONS. HOPE SHE DOESN’T FLY SOUTHWEST AIRLINES AGAIN ESPECIALLY SHE BETTER NOT BE SITTING NEXT TO ME!

  11. Avatar

    Ahmed

    February 19, 2018 at 2:41 PM

    She reminds me of every muslim women that gets a degree. They become selfish and entitled and think they can treat others like crap. Feel sorry for her husband if he’s still around.

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza

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On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.

 

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#Current Affairs

My Heart Shook In New Zealand

Mohsin Ansari

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One would imagine that a person would be dead-tired and ready to crash in his bed after a grueling, 36-hour journey from Christchurch, New Zealand to Washington, DC. And I will admit, that was the way I felt. Yet somehow, all my somnolence vanished as soon as my head rested on my pillow and I closed my eyes to rest. A wave of recollections fell over me: memories of the survivors, the emotions they expressed, and their feelings of an uncertain future as they planned their lives after the loss of their family members. These feelings instantly took away all the desire to get rest and sleep. I sit upright now and begin writing this reflection of a once in a lifetime experience- a voyage of grief and hope to Aotearoa- land of the white cloud as the indigenous people call New Zealand.

With lost baggage, long flights and too many connections, at times it seemed unlikely that my eldest son Moaz and I would make it to Jumm’ah and Janazah prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand. But Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accepted our prayers so that we could fulfill the guidelines set by our beloved, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). We were able to fulfill one of the rights of a Muslim over the others; that when he is sick visit him, and when she dies, offer her funeral and be part of her burial.

Hagley Cricket Ground was supposed to have a cricket test match between Bangladesh and New Zealand that Friday. Commentators reckon that it would have been the final day of that test match. But the 22nd of March 2019, brought a much bigger crowd to this world-famous cricket ground than what anyone would have seen on the final day of that test match.

Officials and security directed us towards the VIP area as they wanted to pay respect to the guests who traveled all the way from the USA, Canada, and Australia. The environment of love, solidarity, and respect, coupled with the hijab-clad women standing in solidarity with Muslims in that enormous crowd, created an impact which cannot be articulated by mere words. Every single uniformed female officer was carrying their firearm while donning a hijab; creating a welcoming gesture in a rather somber and gloomy atmosphere.

I do not have the words to thank the leadership of Charity Australia and the Islamic Forum of Australian Muslims (IFAM) for providing us with logistics, facilitating meeting the families of the “shuhudaa” (martyrs) and arranging to visit those injured in the tragedy. ICNA, Helping Hand, and Charity Australia banners highlighting the slogans of “American Muslims stand in solidarity with Victims of Christchurch New Zealand” were the center of attention for thousands of local New Zealanders gathered in solidarity that day. Their hugs, sincere prayers and tearful eyes were the greatest gift that I want to share with everyone reading these reflections.

Right after Jumm’ah, the majority of the crowd attended the collective Janazah prayer of 27 of the martyrs. In those emotional moments, I met with the most courageous woman on earth, the wife of 51-year-old Shaheed Naeem and the mother of 21-year-old Talha Naeem, the two spirited souls who gave their lives to save others in the mosque that day. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She mentioned that her husband, Naeem, was a person who lived the life of a man of service, always ready to help others. She described Talha as an angel who was too pious and too noble to be away from Jannah too long. We heard similar feelings from Naeem’s mother (grandmother of Talha) the next day when we visited their home.

The visit to the home of New Zealand’s national soccer team player, Atta Elayyan (33), was not only emotional but also deeply inspiring. Atta lost his life and his father (the founder of Al-Noor Masjid) was severely injured during this brutal and hateful attack. There were several scholars from the United States, including Sheikh Omer Suleiman, in the visit to Atta’s home. We could offer nothing to console the brave mother of this shaheed, who greeted us with words of courage and wisdom. We had no words to accompany the tears in our eyes, except prayers for the most noble young man who helped so many in coming close to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Our visits to Al-Noor Masjid and the Linwood Islamic Center were also filled with memories of love, harmony, and reverence. There was a continuous influx of hundreds of visitors, not only from New Zealand, but also from different countries including, but not limited to, Australia, Fiji, and Canada.  Thousands and thousands of flower bouquets and other items of love were left by these visitors. I was really thrilled to see that local Muslims left many Qur’ans and flyers with basic concepts of Islam and addressing the common misconceptions about Islam for those visiting. I witnessed many people visiting these mosques were taking those Qur’ans and other books with them in order to learn more about Islam.

We also met Mr. Aziz, the unsung hero who repeatedly attacked the killer with different objects including an empty gun —which the killer had discarded. The terrorist fired on Aziz multiple times, but Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) not only saved him, but he also forced the killer to flee from the Linwood Islamic Center. Mr. Aziz was one of the reasons why the number of casualties in this mosque was only seven, compared to the 43 martyrs in Masjid Al-Noor. We also met certain individuals whom Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) saved miraculously. A young man showed his trousers fenestrated with holes of bullets but had no signs of injury. The husband and wife who entered the premises of the mosque and only to be showered with a burst of 26 bullets while in their car, leaving it completely destroyed. Yet Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) saved both of them while they took shelter in their vehicle.

The visit to the hospital’s ICU was simply heartbreaking but at the same time increased our resolve and commitment to help these families as much as possible. We encountered a Turkish brother who was in a coma for nine days and met his elderly parents, who spoke to us in the very little English they knew. The only thing which we could understand from their hushed voices was the request for du’a and tears of helplessness in their eyes. The 71-year-old father of a local Pakistani from Hafizabad, who had arrived two weeks ago to visit his son, was now on a ventilator fighting for his life. As a physician who has worked in ICU settings for a long time, I simply did not have enough medical reasoning which could have provided him any words of hope!! Similarly, I was not able to provide any glimmer of hope to a brother from Bangladesh whose wife will never be able to walk again and will be paralyzed for the rest of her life.

While I saw hope and felt resilience from every victim in that hospital, this hospital visit was brutally heartbreaking.

Lastly, I cannot imagine the pain, agony, and helplessness that the father of Mucad Ibrahim must feel after losing his 3-year-old son in his own arms. I gave him the longest hug possible, as he taught the whole world the meaning of Beautiful Sabr (Patience).

After seeing the devastation caused by the terrorist attack, and the work that must still be done to heal the community, Helping Hand USA, ICNA Relief Canada, and Charity Australia have formed an organization called the “Christchurch Family Support Network”. The operations have already begun, and our team is on the ground. The first group of mental health professionals with a background in Islamic Integrated counseling are set to leave to provide victims and their families immediate psychological assistance.

We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to accept our work, bring healing to the community, protect our brothers and sisters, and accept the shuhadaa’ in the highest level of Paradise.

Dr. Mohsin Ansari is the Vice President Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Chairman of Helping Hand USA (HHRD)

 

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Because Muslims Matter | Honoring The Martyrs Of #Christchurch

Hena Zuberi

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As the days go by, it is easy to forget the names and faces of the people who passed away. The horror of the act eclipses their memories. We do not want that to happen to our brothers and sisters in New Zealand.

اللهُـمِّ اغْفِـرْ لِحَيِّـنا وَمَيِّتِـنا وَشـاهِدِنا ، وَغائِبِـنا ، وَصَغيـرِنا وَكَبيـرِنا ، وَذَكَـرِنا وَأُنْثـانا. اللهُـمِّ مَنْ أَحْيَيْـتَهُ مِنّا فَأَحْيِـهِ عَلى الإِسْلام ،وَمَنْ تَوَفَّـيْتَهُ مِنّا فَتَوَفَّـهُ عَلى الإِيـمان ، اللهُـمِّ لا تَحْـرِمْنـا أَجْـرَه ، وَلا تُضِـلَّنا بَعْـدَه

Allaahum-maghfir lihayyinaa, wa mayyitinaa, wa shaahidinaa, wa ghaa’ibinaa, wa sagheerinaa wa kabeerinaa, wa thakarinaa wa ‘unthaanaa..

O Allah forgive our living and our dead, those who are with us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our menfolk and our womenfolk… [7]

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