On Monday the 15th we will stop to remember those of our community who were murdered two years ago at the two Mosques. There has been much written and spoken about the impact of this atrocity on the affected families, the Muslim community and all of us who stood supporting them all shocked with disbelief.
On that day as the waves of impact swept over our affected community we looked up in disbelief as the helicopters buzzed overhead, wondering why and how. Relatives of immigrant families rushed into our grandchildren’s school with the news of the impact on children at Christchurch East school. The schools were locked down and so were our brains. Why? Were there many killers? Were there many dead? Cop cars swooped in the area we were in as they tried desperately to find the killer/s.
Finally, we knew and the whole country went into mourning.
I found this cardboard message a powerful message of solidarity:
Since the slaughter of innocent children and adults there has been enormous public support and debate for this community. Strong voices have been raised about how to address matters. A Royal Commission has reported its findings and the follow up has been strongly debated. I am particularly impressed with Anjum Rahman who is a New Zealand Muslim community leader and human rights activist. She is an advocate for the rights of Muslim women. Every time she speaks, I listen. This woman makes enormous sense; and is not to be trivialised with.
It’s the behind-the-scenes issues which I am interested in. The Mosque has always had its struggles of different cultures often bringing the tribal battles of their homeland. The Imam is often in a difficult position, day after day after day. All religions are based on good teachings and promotion of peace and a sense of community. Unfortunately, human beings too often impose their own personal interpretations, and tribal thoughts, to all religions and the messages get distorted and people behave inconsistently to their religious teachings.
That’s called human nature. It happens with all beliefs.
Tony Green who attends the Tuesday Club sent me some wonderful information this week about one couple.
Bariz Shah recently won the “UC Outstanding Achievement in Community Engagement.”
When he accepted his award, he started by acknowledging his mother:
For the one who has heaven beneath her feet. My mother.
When I was a teenager, I was lost. Most nights I would come home between 3 or 4 in the morning, intoxicated from something, and my mother would be in the lounge, waiting. She could not go to sleep while her son was out on the streets. Now, many years later, by the grace and mercy of the one whose blessings I am aware of, and the blessings that go unnoticed, life is on a completely different trajectory.
I stand and receive the award, however, let me tell you about someone who deserves this award each and every week. A woman who graduated with her Masters in Sociology back in Afghanistan yet had to leave all her dreams and aspirations behind due to war. She came to NZ with her 5 children in 2001, and now, all of them have graduated from renowned Universities and are giving back to the world. Not only has she nurtured her family and allowed them to reach heights unimaginable to most first-generation migrants, but she has also served almost every refugee who has passed through the refugee resettlement Centre in Mangere. She is a selfless woman who has taught me what it means to give to others and why it is of the utmost important value if I want to live a life filled with gratitude.
From the part of my heart that is closest to my creator, Allah, I love you maadar jaan. I will carry all the wisdom that you have shared and will do my best to spread as much good in this world as I have the potential to do so. Alhamdulillah.
Bariz Shah and his wife, Saba Afrasyabi, had gone to Afghanistan to set up 51 micro-businesses in remembrance of the 51 who were killed in the Mosque murders.
They went on to establish a not-for-profit organization called ‘GOOD ADDICT’. When they were in Afghanistan they realized how giving their time in service to others brought them immense joy. After doing some research about why they got this feeling, they found that when they serve someone out of wanting well for them, they got a release of oxytocin in their brain. Oxytocin is found to keep you happier and healthier. So, they thought, ‘Imagine a world where everyone is addicted to doing good’.
Last month they organized the first-ever annual INSPIRED/Summit of Growth. Youth from over 20 different countries were all there to be inspired, to be heard, and to meet people who wish to live purpose-driven lives.
To the team of volunteers that were involved in putting this together, WE DID IT! Follow https://instagram.com/_goodaddict_?igshid=1xeldlktxwd68 for updates.
This is yet another example of the wonderful people in this community.
I will conclude this note with a quote from Maha Elmadani, one of the speakers at the Commemoration Service held in Otautahi yesterday. Her father Ali Elmadani died in the terrorist attack. She said the pain of losing these 51 lives had not only impacted the people of Christchurch.
“It was a pain that rippled throughout New Zealand and the rest of the world and continues to be felt to this day. They were loving fathers, mothers, brothers and sons. Today we remember them. They had so much to give to this land, they were proud Kiwis and we were blessed to have them in their lives.
“One of those proud Kiwis we lost was Ali Elmadani, he was my dad and he took with him a part of my soul. My baba was a man of few words, gently spoken in classical Arabic. He was a custodian of knowledge and history. When he spoke, everybody listened. He was my teacher, my anchor and my source of truth. Through him I learned about my faith and my Palestinian heritage. When he left this world, so too did the light.
“I wish for a safer more inclusive Aotearoa, where our young generation and all those who follow can be proud of their identities and live freely from fear of discrimination or ignorance.”
Here is a link to the wonderful ceremony which was played live on RNZ on Saturday afternoon. I sat in my garage and cried my heart out all the way through. All the speeches were fantastic and I recommend you have a listen https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/438301/ko-tatou-tatou-we-are-one-the-future-is-in-our-hands.
Here’s how the Guardian covered the ceremony on Saturday evening https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/13/they-are-us-christchurch-shooting-victims-remembered-two-years-on.