Istanbul, Dhaka, and now Baghdad; the world has lost over 190 innocent souls this past week. I am heartbroken. Even worse, I am afraid. Reading over article by article filled with gut wrenching details about these attacks makes me sick to the stomach. I can’t even begin to fathom what these people went through, especially in Dhaka, where the hostages went through traumatizing hours before meeting their fate.
I am especially shaken up by the fact that two of those hostages were Emory students. As an Emory-bound student, I mourn for the loss of Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain. I never knew the two of them personally, but seeing their friends post their pictures and enjoying life makes me wish I did. Abinta would have been a sophomore next year but, now, because of this monstrosity, I would never get to meet her. Faraaz would have been at Emory’s Goizueta School of Business, so I would not have met him, but I already know that he would have been a great friend. Multiple witnesses say that Faraaz actually had the opportunity to leave due to his Bengali heritage, but he decided to stay behind with Abinta and Tarishi Jain, a Berkeley student who sadly also lost her life. What he did was a true act of friendship and courage, one that commands the highest level of respect.
Knowing this, I keep thinking back to that airport in Istanbul where people were rushing to catch their flights to see their loved ones or saying their last goodbyes. Airports are always filled with so many emotions: joy, hope, sadness, anxiety, and love; none of those people deserved to have their lives taken so quickly. A father who was on his way to actually free his son from Daesh (the real name for ISIS), and a nine-year old girl without her family were just two of the victims.
Then, just yesterday, a car explosion in a busy shopping area in Baghdad took lives of over 150 civilians, more than 25 were kids. These were all Muslims who were excitedly preparing for the end of Ramadan, but now they can’t celebrate Eid because a terrorist organization decided that their lives would be used to spread their unexplainable cause of fear.
So now I sit here, trying to make sense of all this as the horrifying pictures and scenarios repeatedly keep playing out in my head. While praying is one way to deal with this, there is another thing you can do that may garner specific results: educate yourself. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not let ignorance lead your actions and life. Ignorance is what terrorist organizations like Daesh prey upon, and it definitely was the reason why a dozen peaceful Muslims have been shot or stabbed randomly throughout the country.
Read what’s going on in the world through credible resources. If you believe the cut up “violent passages” of Quran your family members or friends are posting, then find out the origin of those, or read them in the context of the situation. Disclaimer, if you didn’t know: those words were written centuries ago for situations that were prevalent back in those times of tribal wars. When people copy and paste selected passages inciting terror, they are basically doing the same thing as Deash -- using ignorance to spread fear.
I know it is not your responsibility to do this, but it will considerably help if your knowledge can prevent more innocent lives being lost. Most of those shooters in the Dhaka attack were people from affluent families and had proper schooling, but they were uneducated when it came to religion. But imagine if they were -- those 20 people would be here today. I am not saying don’t pray; please pray for all those victims, and their families as well. Prayer is a powerful tool when it comes to coping with situations where you feel helpless, but enhance the power of prayer with knowledge. Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is freedom.