Christchurch: On Pain, Healing and Hope.

It’s been a while. Over three months actually, since I wrote my last blog post. It’s not that I’m lazy and don’t want to write or share content. Trust me I do. I’ve been writing a lot in my journal. It’s just that I’ve been healing. I felt like it wouldn’t be right for me to blog anything without talking about Christchurch first. I still find it hard to find the right words. To express the pain, the healing and the hope. And I don’t think I ever will.

 It still hurts. And whenever I pass the mosque, I still can’t help but shed a tear or two. The mosque is a place where I love to go. I’m not overly religious but I have been frequent and I had always felt safe and at peace when I’m there. It shocked me to know that the person who committed such a horrible act was lurking around my local mosque just weeks before the attack as I would normally be alone when I pray. To this day, it gives me goose bumps to think that I was praying alone at the mosque just after the attack as I didn’t know and New Zealand was then on high alert.

 Although it was very much appreciated that the police were to guard all the mosques in New Zealand, it made me uncomfortable to see them with their guns at hand. For over a month, it was a constant reminder that the place that I loved going to, had a risk of no longer being safe. But the flowers, posters and gifts placed next to the mosque also reminded me that there is still hope and the love of others.

 And the love that poured from all over New Zealand and even the rest of the world was truly healing. I’ve never seen anything like it before but it was such a beautiful thing to experience. People from different backgrounds, colour, faiths and race came together and they united as one. And I hope that we continue healing together because there is still a long way to go.

 Nonetheless, there is so much good that came out of it rather than bad, alhamdulillah. Along with healing we also need to do some work within our communities, society and within ourselves. We need to start conversations about racism and call out wrong doing. We need to instil universal morals and values with our children such as respect and love. We need to reach out and make the minorities feel welcome and safe. And we need to question ourselves if our intentions are good and if we also need to seek more knowledge to understand.

 We can also give our support to the families of the victims by giving money to charity specifically for Christchurch. Most of the families that lost a loved one, had most likely lost the breadwinner of the family and so it’s important to help those in need. You can still do so by clicking here.

 To conclude, here is a poem in which I had wrote and recited for a show ‘This is Who We Are’ to raise money for the victims of Christchurch. I’ve also included the captions in which I had wrote on my Instagram to further express on how I felt and still feel. I wish I could say more or do more. But I really don’t know what to say and I don’t know if what I can do myself will ever be enough. I just really pray for the victims and the families of the victims and that we all continue to heal and learn and grow together. I really pray for a better understanding and loving future for or children and that God has made this a light to guide us. But I do believe that if we all do our part, we can collectively make a difference. Because change really does begins with you.

Welcome to Al Noor

 “Hello brother”,
Welcome to Al Noor- The Light, 
In which darkness will never prevail.
We have been waiting earnestly for this day,
To meet with our Lord.
How blessed are We to have been chosen 
On a blessed day, a blessed state and in a blessed place?
And with Allah’s blessing He said “Be and it is”:
Fifty martyrs are beloved by God immensely 
That they are honoured to Be loved 
By the rest of mankind. 
Humanity mourns for them, for they, for us. 
Even the rain and autumn nights,
But there is a silver lining
And the warmth from each hug of strangers and neighbours, 
Of children and loved ones,
Of white, black and red.
In which there is but one single eye of the needle. 
And it is through understanding that it can thread us together.

Understanding is a powerful thing. 
It can mend hearts.
It can bring peace.
And it can change the world. 
With every beautiful sunrise and sunset since,
Each day we understand more and more,
Each day our differences becomes smaller and smaller.
And now the full moon is marvelled 
By us. 
Allahu akbar. God is most great. 
Now the smell of blood has blossomed into flowers,
Each laid gently and watered by tears,
As we silently pray for them to rest in peace-
Peace and blessings be upon you all.

We embrace in the divine notion of Us,
In this moment, 
We share what it means to be human. 
And it illuminates the whole world
As we come together as One in solidarity-
Hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands
Flamed with our candles and our broken hearts;
Lighting up the darkness with love and compassion.

United. United. United.
As one. As one. As one. 
Not just for
Or Tomorrow.
But for every day… 
With God’s will.

On Sunday April 7, Kiwi Stars of Stage and Screen came together for a very special benefit show. This is Who We Are was a show to raise funds for the victims of the Christchurch Massacre and their families. Everyone performing and working on the show gave their time and talent for free with every cent raised going to the fund.
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Christchurch holds a very special place in my heart. Two years ago when I was at my darkest, Christchurch gave me hope and the courage to heal, grow and learn. Christchurch made me stronger in faith and much more comfortable with wearing my hijab. But yesterday, I felt what it feels like to have that fear as a hijabi- to be more cautious as it in the back of your mind and to have that sickening feeling in your stomach. Today each time I pass by the mosque, I couldn’t help but cry. Holy places should be safe places and anyone and everyone has their right to practice their faith. However, it warms my heart to see so many flowers laid and thoughts written at the mosque by people of different ethnicities, culture and faith. It reminded me that humanity can still be beautiful. Tonight I was also overwhelmed by the number of people that came together in solidarity for the vigil in Hamilton. It felt like how I felt when I was in Christchurch. Although we all came from different backgrounds and 15/3/2019 is New Zealand’s darkest day, Christchurch gave us the opportunity to grow together and understand one another. The unity of love, hope and compassion was healing. Now my fear has been turned into trust. And I trust that God will guide us and protect us. Also, everyone has a story so it’s important to know about the victims rather than just making them a statistic. Please read them here on @khaledbeydoun Instagram page.

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“Kotahi te kohao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro ma, te miro pango me te miro whero. There is but one single eye of the needle through which the white, black and red threads must pass.” I would read this Maori proverb everyday while I was at school and I hope this and Christchurch will teach us the importance of unity. Yes, racism is real and it is evident in all societies but it has to start with us if we want to change the status quo. It begins with our families and our schools and what we teach our children. These first critical years determine the values and morals that they will most likely uphold for the rest of their lives. And so it is important to teach them good character, to understand and respect one another, to always renew their intentions and to wish for others to what they would wish for themselves. As we grow older we still need to check ourselves and others but we need to respond in a dignified manner. When we see or hear racism or any wrong doing, it should be the right of those hurt that we go and help them. Call out racism or wrong doing- even if it is from family or friends and don’t let people get away with it because if you do, you are just as bad as them. As humans it is our duty to protect and support one another and to also continue learning. Today when I was at the mosque, I met a non-Muslim mother and she told me that she came there to teach her children to respect differences. And in that moment we both cried and embraced one another. Because we both understood the meaning of understanding. Understanding is a powerful thing. It can mend hearts, it can bring peace and it can change the world. We are never too young or too old to understand- so learn and grow as much as you can and start those meaningful and important conversations with others. Change is only difficult because it’s so different to what we are used to. But it is the differences that makes ourselves, our community and love unique. Differences should unite us, not divide us and it is through understanding that it can thread us together. Also, please read about the victims and who they were on @khaledbeydoun Instagram page. Artist of first drawing: Adrien Tavite

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Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un. To God we belong, and to Him we shall return. Last week, God had loved 50 amazing souls so much that he returned them during prayers on Friday- a blessed day and blessed state for Muslims. Although how they died was a tragedy, in that state where they are in remembrance of Allah is how all Muslims would wish to die. In our holy book the Quran it says: “And do not think of those killed in Allah’s path as dead: indeed they are alive and receive their sustenance from their Lord. They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah.” (Surah 3, Aal-e Imran verse 169-170). From this and the way that New Zealand and the rest of the world are responding, we should all heal together and see the good. Because that is what my religion has taught me- to always see the good in everything, even in times of adversity. And for the past couple of days I have never seen anything so beautiful. We have never been so united. People in New Zealand and all over the world are coming together as one in solidarity. Like most Muslims here, we are overwhelmed by the immense love, compassion and respect. And for that we would like to say thank you for your sincerity and kind gestures as well as concerns. • Today in solidarity and remembrance of last week, the whole of New Zealand heard the beautiful azaan (call to prayer) and then we had two minutes of silence. Today I was in Te Aroha and although our community is very small, the whole mosque was full with people and outside as well. I also witnessed so many non-Muslim women stand in solidarity with their hijabs and so many people came, including our Mayor Jan Barnes where they watched how Muslims prayed for Jumu’ah and they also listened to the khutbah. Allahu Akbar. God is great. He has given us an opportunity to understand one another. • May Allah, give those that died the highest levels of heaven. May the pain of those injured turn into good deeds. May patience be given for the families and friends of those affected. And May He protect us and guide us and let us heal and grow together as one. Amiin. ❤️

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It’s been over a month since the Christchurch attacks and I am still collecting my thoughts and feelings. Yesterday I heard of the tragic news of what had happened in Sri Lanka and it honestly breaks my heart. Holy places should be safe places. Sometimes I wonder, why did God create humans of different colours, race, gender, sexuality and religion? And why should people suffer for simply being who they are? But then I remember this particular verse: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” -Quran 49:13. And that’s what I write in my poem, ‘Welcome to Al Noor’ in which I talk about the importance of understanding. Because in the end understanding IS a powerful thing. It’s what we are supposed to do on this Earth. It has to begin with US if we want to change the world. You can watch my performance on my IG TV or link is in bio. The full show is also on demand on @maoritelevision (NZ only) and it will be streamed to the rest of the world online soon. ••• “Hello brother”, Welcome to Al Noor- The Light, In which darkness will never prevail. We have been waiting earnestly for this day, To meet with our Lord. How blessed are We to have been chosen On a blessed day, a blessed state and in a blessed place? And with Allah’s blessing He said “Be and it is”: Fifty martyrs are beloved by God immensely That they are honoured to Be loved By the rest of mankind. Humanity mourns for them, for they, for us. Even the rain and autumn nights, But there is a silver lining And the warmth from each hug of strangers and neighbours, Of children and loved ones, Of white, black and red. In which there is but one single eye of the needle. And it is through understanding that it can thread us together. ••• The rest of the poem is in the comments.

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Nurul Shamsul