The Legacy Of Our Three Heroes: Deah, Yusor, Razan.

If anyone knows me, they know how positive I am as a person. Rarely do I get angry or annoyed as I believe that negative thoughts shape your life and I strive to lead a positive life instead. For that reason, I try to control my thoughts. However at times when examining the world, it’s hard to avoid this simple fact: hatred fuels so many people. Often in life, we get annoyed, agitated, and sometimes our emotions get the better of us. We may cry, shout, fight, you name it. We’re human. Humans are weak.

These past few days I’ve been so angry at the world. You must have heard about the brutal massacre of the three Muslim, American students in their apartment. Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19 were shot in the head by a sad man who let his disgusting, prejudice thoughts manifest into actions and chose to murder these beautiful souls in cold blood. Also, Deah and Yusor just recently got married a little more than a month ago. In fact a few hours before her death, Yusor changed her profile picture on Facebook to one of herself and her father dancing at her wedding.These 3 beautiful souls were effortlessly beautiful in every way. Deah, I’ve shared a video to give you a taste of the light and positivity this beautiful brother shed into the world. And his bride, Yusor, this queen recently travelled to Kilis, Turkey to assist in dental relief. She would have actually started at UNC School of Dentistry in August this year. And Razan, 19. A 1st year Architecture student. This girl, who is one year older than me could have been me, could’ve been my friend, could’ve been you. She was known for her incredible, artistic talents. What frightens and saddens me the most is the reality of this incident. I believe that every single life matters, no matter if it’s a Palestinian boy being burned alive by an Israeli soldier in Gaza, or a black man being murdered without a valid reason by a police officer in America, or a child leaving the world due to absolute poverty which results in him or her not having enough food to nourish their little bodies in Somalia. Race, religion, none of these things should matter when mourning the dead. However, what touched my heart the most about the lives of the three heroes is how relatable their lives were. Three Muslims living in the West, minding their own business, and doing nothing but ameliorating this world. This, this is what infuriates and frustrates me the most. The fact that they strived so hard to make a change. Days before his death, Deah tweeted at how ‘freaking annoying it is when people say kill all Muslims or kill all Jews’ as this kind of behaviour creates nothing more but more animosity. To think that a few days later he was shot due to animosity is what pains me the most.

Between the three heroes, they shared many accomplishments, they didn’t only exist in this world, but in their short life span, these three heroes lived. They tasted the wonders of this world and emanated these wonders back into their community. I found myself smiling when researching their stories. They inspire me so much. Ok. Back to reality. As I mentioned, they were shot at by a disgusting man. One who was blinded and fuelled by his own negativity and hate. One who was unable to integrate freely with people who weren’t like him. A fearful man. A murderer. The sad, awful reality is that the victims, the bride and groom and their bridesmaid were shot at for being Muslim. They were ruthlessly murdered for their beliefs and in my eyes, the most saddest part of their story is how there exists almost 0 media coverage of this brutal, incident. If it hadn’t been for social media being used as a weapon to share this story, I probably wouldn’t have even found out about it. What frustrates me the most is how the shooters wife has apparently stated that her husbands actions “highlights the importance of access to mental health care services.” Amidst my frustration, I managed to divert my thoughts by viewing one video made by Deah and thought to myself ‘these three martyrs are in a state of immense happiness right now’. They are in Allah’s hands. The way they lived portrays my Islam. Let me emphasise this point again. The way Deah, Yusor and Razan lived, as people emitting positivity in the world is representative of Islam. Their acts of kindness and humanity is what Islam is all about. Their actions is what the prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) lived his life telling us to do. The prophet stated that “the dead person is followed by three: his family, his wealth and his actions. Two of them return and only one remains.” It is evident which one has remained for these three. Their beautiful manners which led to amazing actions will not only set the precedent for more youth to get involved in truly living and not only existing in this world, but will also never be forgotten by the almighty Allah. Your actions shape you and undoubtedly theirs have had an immense impact on most of us already. Also, maybe, just maybe if we forget about the way they were killed for a minute, we can focus on what they have left behind for us, the audience. To me, I have gained three new role models. Part of me feels like it’s now my duty to continue leading a life portraying Islam for what it really is. For Deah, for Yusor and for Razan. Lest we forget these three. A fellow friend texted me this yesterday night after we stayed up talking about how infuriating the situation was.”When we forget the dead, when we erase them from our memories and our hearts, that’s when they really die. As long as we keep remembering them and the amazing work they did, they will stay alive.”

My fellow sisters and brothers. As Muslims, it’s difficult and tiresome to put up with the constant battle of trying to prove our innocence to ignorant people. I know that most of you who are Muslim are sick of being apologetic and tired of having to constantly prove that ‘Islam is not a religion that promotes terrorism’. But let me tell you, that actions truly do speak louder than words. A few weeks ago I met up with Mohammed Zeyara, a fellow brother who like the three heroes, strives to make this world a better place. I asked him ‘how do we as Muslims make a difference in a world that views Islam so negatively’ and from that he reiterated that it was all in our ‘beautiful manners’. With our manners and with our actions, we too can fade the hate that exists in the world. Like I said, I believe in Allah and Allah truly does work in miraculous ways. His miraculous ways will not always be comprehensible as after all He is the Creator, the almighty Allah and we are nothing but humans. Nonetheless I’m content in the way He works. I’m content and I put my whole trust in Him. And you should too. We don’t know why God specifically took Deah, Yusor and Razan. We don’t know why God tests thousands of Palestinians enduring a hate filled occupation. Finally, we don’t know why people like Craig, the man who shot the three victims exist. But what we do know is that right now, you and me, we’re alive, breathing and we are well. You, who is reading this post right now is 60% luckier than 80% of people in this world because you have Internet (I did not make this up) and so use the tools you have around you to make a difference. You really are unique. Don’t think that for a minute God has forgotten you. When you feel that your good actions aren’t being appreciated by people, erase that thought immediately. After all, they are just people, and ultimately we work for God, so remember that all your amazing efforts will be viewed by God, no matter how small or large they are. You are blessed with life so savour each second and as they say in Arabic ‘tawakul ala Allah’ I’ll let you use your blessing (the Internet) to find out what that means. Remember that the world can be harsh but it’s up to you to make it work for you. A few days ago, despite the tragic loss of the three heroes, they managed to make the world work for them. Their impact has left a mark on us all.
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
To God we belong and to him we shall return
Deah, Yusor, Razan, to the highest levels of heaven inshAllah.
By Chaimaa Elazrak

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. srwainess
    Feb 13, 2015 @ 18:34:17

    Hi Chaimaa, Your blog/eulogy/sermon/tribute is eloquent and moving. But for our connection with scoliosis, I would never have read or heard about this tragedy. Reason: I cannot deal with the violence and inhumanity in the U.S. and world. I no longer read newspapers or watch TV news. I try to skip over news reports about such tragedies when I go on the internet. After reading your blog, I share your anger. I am angry about senseless violence, about lack of gun control, about criminals using temporary insanity pleas, about discrimination, etc. Gun violence must be stopped. However, our Constitution prevents banning guns. As an attorney, I know that the U.S. courts will never ban guns. I learned how to handle and operate guns when I was drafted by the Army during the Vietnam War, but I have never owned a gun. Regrettably, stories like this almost make me want to get a gun because I need to protect my family from the “crazies”. I wish Deah, Yusor and Razan had been armed and blown away this criminal. As for discrimination: Yes, the courts have upheld all laws banning discrimination, but the courts cannot magically change people’s private prejudices. I think Mr. Zeyara’s approach to change is a good start, but I urge you to aggressively exercise your rights in the U.S., even if that means carrying a concealed weapon (legally of course). If you experience prejudice, use the judicial system to punish the perpetrators. Most importantly, recognize that if you belong to a class or race or group that is subject to discrimination or hate crimes, you must stand up for your rights and be prepared to defend yourself in the name of your brothers and sisters that are no longer with us. Forgive, if that is required by your religion, but do not forget. Rest in peace, Deah, Yusor and Razan.


  2. znbdwd
    Feb 14, 2015 @ 00:14:55

    Really beautiful piece, Chaimaa. It’s so important for people to understand the gravity of this situation and what it means for Muslims living not only in the U.S. but any other country where we are a minority. Hopefully posts like this will raise awareness and put an end to all forms of hate.


    • Chaimology
      Feb 14, 2015 @ 00:21:28

      I completely agree Zainab. The least we can do is use the tools we have to raise awareness. Thanks for reading. I hope you are well.


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