Associate Chaplain and Mentor
COLLEGE PARK, MD –
It seems as if suicide within the Muslim community is occurring at an increasing rate. Our most recent loss in Virginia shocked all of us that call the DMV home, and it occurred just a few days after another incident in Dallas, TX.
In the DMV Muslim community alone, there have been more than a handful of cases of suicide over the past year involving individuals across all ages, some even as young as 10 or 11 years old.
The CDC published a study earlier this year with data supporting that suicide rates have risen between 1999 and 2016 in every state except Nevada.
Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s deputy principal director, says that the data “suggest that this is a national problem hitting most communities”, and we are seeing over and over again that the Muslim community in North America, and especially Muslims in the D.C. Area, are not immune.
Additionally, notable persons within the Muslim community are coming under scrutiny as we see more and more cases of abuse of power and status for sexual gain. As the #MeToo movement spreads, Muslims are now being forced to look within and evaluate the pervasiveness of sexual assault and manipulation.
While all of this has been going on internally, externally, we Muslims have become increasingly adept at representing ourselves well. As Islamophobia has gained more prominence, the Muslim community has had to step out into the open and self-advocate.
We’ve gotten better at expressing how we’re model citizens, how a third of Muslims are college graduates and 11% of us have postgraduate degrees. We label ourselves as peaceful adherents to a peaceful religion that is built upon mercy and kindness to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The link between these social issues and the Muslim community’s P.R. campaign may not be immediately obvious, but they are connected by one simple question that all of us should be asking ourselves: have we gotten better at preaching mercy without actually practicing it?
One of the most notable attributes of the Prophetic community was consistency of values. No matter what the situation, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led the community to act in a way that upheld values and morality in all situations, public or private, regardless of whether that commitment led to a win or loss for the Muslims.
If we just focus on the ethic of mercy, there are countless examples that illustrate this consistency. The list is too long for this column; if you’d like specifics please reply to this message and I’ll get back to you, God willing.
When we look to the Prophetic biography, mercy and compassion were not used to further an agenda, nor were they used to just make Muslims look good to those observing from the outside. They were the basis of a society. Muslims were taught to be merciful at all times, and this consistency of their values ended up turning the hearts of the people around them, inside and outside the faith community.
Of course mercy and commitment to morals are not all that are necessary to eradicate the issues we’ve mentioned, but they are non-negotiable elements to any sort of change we hope to achieve in the future. One of the reasons I joined the CMLMD team is because I saw the need in my life for environments where I could grow spiritually without having to be ashamed of who I am or where I’ve been.
I need a community I can be a part of notwithstanding my flaws as a human being, where true concern for one another is present.
If you believe in the need to create that community, I hope you join us and support our work by attending our 3rd Annual Fundraising Dinner on November 18th in College Park.
With your help, we can work towards true mercy for all, God willing.