Montreal·Point of View

My friends, please give peace a chance

Shaheen Ashraf woke up early Friday morning in Montreal to pray. That's when she found out about a tragedy on the other side of the planet, and "a feeling of anger started to rise within me."

‘You try to understand what is happening in the world — and you fail,’ says Muslim Montrealer Shaheen Ashraf

Shaheen Ashraf, board member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, says she felt a wave of anger Friday morning in the moments after she learned about the mosque attacks in New Zealand. (CBC)

Like any other day, I woke up at 5 a.m. with my usual sciatic pain.

I have a habit of asking God for help when I wake up. I praise God, I ask for healing, help and no hindrances in my life. This is while I still lie in bed.

Friday morning was no different. I had no idea it would be a tumultuous one.

Slowly, I left my bed, came to the kitchen to put my coffee on and went to wash up for my prayers, when my phone clicked letting me know there was a message.

It was a tweet from an organization condemning the killing of innocent worshippers.

"What happened now?" I thought to myself. "No, I am not going to turn on the radio or TV before I say my prayers."

I came to stand on my prayer mat and started my favourite prayer of peace from the Qur'an: "O Lord! You are peace. Peace flows back and forth from you, help me to enter through the gate of Peace."

While I stood in prayer, my cell phone started to ring. We are not supposed to leave our prayer after starting it — unless there is an emergency like you are being attacked or something — so I continued to pray.

Two seconds later, my home phone started to ring. God! I am saying my prayers and the phones keep ringing: it is 5:30 in the morning, it has to be an emergency.

It was a CBC reporter informing me of the horror that happened in New Zealand.

"Am I hearing this right?" I thought to myself and told the young lady on the other end of the line, "No! Not again!"

I was in disbelief, saddened by the killing of other humans by humans.

You try to understand what is happening in the world — and you fail.

What happens to the human mind that makes people go out on a rampage of killing innocents?

Where do these people get the weapons to perpetrate this kind of destruction?

All these thoughts were racing through my head when a feeling of anger started to rise within me.

Members of a family react outside the mosque following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. (Martin Hunter/SNPA/Reuters)

I had to bring myself to the Quranic verses of peace and tranquility to try and understand this mindset of hate.

You see, I grew up in a different world.

I was brought up by the Verse 13 of Chapter 49 in the Qur'an: "I have created you from a male and a female and made you into Nations and Tribes so that you know one another."

We are supposed to know and love one another, not hate each other.

So this morning, I remind myself of the verses, "Repel evil with goodness, perhaps your enemy shall be your friend."

We are living in the 21st century — not the 11th or 12th centuries. I thought we had evolved, but it seems we have not.

We have a lot of work to do to raise awareness.

Politicians who, for their own gain, like to divide by their inciting language, give strength to people like Alexandre Bissonnette, the shooter in the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting.

(It's disturbing that Bissonnette's name was inscribed on the New Zealand killer's ammunition.)

This photo of rifle ammunition appeared on a now-deleted Twitter account from a user whose name matched that of the Christchurch shootings suspect. Those mentioned include Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette and Sebastiano Venier, who led a Christian naval force in a 1571 wartime victory over a Turkish fleet in the Mediterranean. (Twitter via Reuters)

My friends, please give peace a chance.

We have the responsibility to leave behind an evolved humanity — not people who want to kill each other, but people who want to work together to build a better world.

I am always told by my family that I live in a utopia, and I always respond, "If I will not dream of utopia, how will I create utopia?"

I am left with a lot of questions.


CBC Montreal is seeking out points of view on issues that matter to you in your community. If you have an idea, send us an email: sabrina.marandola@cbc.ca.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaheen Ashraf

Canadian Council of Muslim Women

Shaheen Ashraf is a board member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

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