by Salman Zaman, ICJS Justice Leaders Fellow

As-salamu alaykum “Peace be upon you” a greeting which so many are attacked & persecuted for using. Although its meaning is so heavy that once said the person saying is declaring he or she will not cause any physical or verbal harm to the other. Hati Mohemmed Daoud Nabi, 71, offered a similar peace offering, ‘hello brother, welcome,’ to his attacker just moments before he was shot dead, along with 49 others in Christchurch, New Zealand. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (We belong to God and to God we shall return).

I woke with a heavy heart to this tragic news that is happening far too often in places of worship. A Mosque, a Church, a Synagogue, a Temple, and any other places of worship should not be a place where you fear for your life. Rather, these are places where you build community, memories, and rejoice life.

In a time when divisiveness, hate, and bigotry have taken shelter in the highest places in government around the world. I strongly believe interfaith partnerships, alliances and collaborations are much needed. We must tear down walls and build bridges with people of all faiths and backgrounds. We must seek to understand and learn of the differences, cause only then will we be able to see the vast similarities.

Challenge yourself! If you haven’t been to a different place of worship other your own, please visit and learn more about another faith. The Prophet Muhammad said, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion, and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.”

I have seen members of all faith backgrounds being compassionate and empathetic to the tragic massacre which occurred, from New Zealand’s Prime Minister opening parliament session with “As-salamu alaykum” to members of all faiths coming out in large numbers to mosques to offer solidarity and protection while their fellow Muslim Brothers and Sisters offer prayer.

That same Friday I myself, just as I do every Friday, attended Salat al-Jumah (Friday Prayers), where interfaith leaders came together to offer prayers for the victims and their families. I must admit, I was for a moment a little more alert than usual, trying to scope out anything or if I notice anyone out of the usual. Then I quickly stopped as I realized that is exactly what the terrorists want, they want us to be scared and they want us to be isolated and against one another. But no that is not what Islam teaches us. Islam teaches us to be kind to one another regardless of which faith you are and what we are all a part of one Ummah (community).

Often times Imams before starting prayer will say “Pray as this is your last prayer.” I started to think about this more and more. As our brothers and sisters in Christchurch were preparing for their last prayer. I pray that Allah “Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala,” Glory to Him, the Exalted, accept their good deeds and intentions and grant them The Highest Gardens of the Paradise and make it easy for their families and the community at large. We are all hurting and God Willingly we won’t forget.

We won’t forget; Atta Elayyan, Mucad Ibrahim, Sayyad Milne, Lilik Abdul Hamid, Areeb Ahmed, Tariq Omar, Shahid Suhail, Syed Jahandad Ali, Haroon Mahmood, Farhaj Ahsan, Maheboob Khokhar, Muhammad Haziq Mohd-Tarmizi, Asif Vora, Ramiz Vora, Ansi Alibava, Ozair Kadir, Haji Daoud al-Nabi, Ali Elmadani, Husna Ahmad, Naeem Rashid, Talha Naeem, Amjad Hamid, Kamel Darwish, Linda Armstrong, Mohammed Imran Khan, Mohamad Moosid Mohamedhosen, Hamza Mustafa, Khaled Mustafa, Junaid Ismail, Abdelfattah Qasem, Ashraf Ali, Ashraf Ali Razat, Mathullah Safi, Hussein Al-Umari, Musa Vali Suleman Patel, Ashraf al-Masri, Hussein Moustafa, Mounir Soliman, Zeeshan Raza, Ghulam Hussain, Karam Bibi, Abdukadir Elmi, Mohsin Al Harbi, Osama Adnan Youssef Kwaik, Mojammel Hoq, Mohammed Omar Faruk, Muhammed Abdusi Samad, Muse Nur Awale, Ahmed Gamaluddin Abdel-Ghany, Zakaria Bhuiya.

I urge you all to take a few moments to read this NYT article and learn more about these amazing individuals whose lives were stolen from them. They live on through us and our work in making this world a better place so events like this don’t happen again.

Salman Zaman is Development Coordinator at Islamic Relief USA, and a  member of the 2018 ICJS Justice Leaders Fellowship.

Baltimore is part of a national conversation around questions of justice, race, and community. Members of the ICJS Justice Leaders Fellowship consider how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim teachings and practice can contribute to the public conversation about (in)justice. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely the author’s. ICJS welcomes a diversity of opinions and perspectives. We do not seek a single definition of justice between or within traditions.