What To Do When Tragedies Happen

What to do when tragedies happen? How do we respond to the growing terror? We pray for the victims, but what else? Imam Daayiee Abdullah responds.

God does not change the unfavorable conditions of a people until they change what is in them. Quran, 13:11

The terrorist attack in New Zealand has left many of us in shock. Of course, some in our communities are expressing sorrow, disillusionment, anger, while others continue anti-Muslim rhetoric towards the Islamic faith.

Observing our communities over the past several decades, there is a growing non-response to tragic events that relate to terror, especially when we look at responses from a community level. Instead of healing the underlying issues we tend to “pray for” victims in this location or that location. Whether a terrorist walks into a church in Egypt or Pakistan, or whether a terrorist walks into a mosque in Iraq or New Zealand, and kills people of faith in a place of worship, we continue to respond from a generic space.

The events in New Zealand immediately brought other events of a similar nature to my memory. I thought about the people who were killed by terrorists in churches in Egypt during Palm Sunday just two years ago. I thought about the many Christians killed in Church in 2013 in Pakistan. I thought about the Muslims killed in the mosque in Iraq in 2006.

I know there are many others of the same nature.

As stated above, the Quranic verse reminds us of our human need for inner and outer peace, which must be taken to heart and put into action.

Whether they happen in the East or West, what can we do to eliminate these types of barbaric acts?

I believe the answer is education.

“Do we really need more education?”


It is the reason why I started MECCA Institute. I believe we need a revolution that does not require more information but updates how we connect with information. We need Muslims and non-Muslims to work together to see our global problems solved in ways that are keeping up with the times.

The young man in New Zealand was driven by the same type of fear that was driven by the young men in other parts of the world. Instead of blaming this one type of fear, or pointing fingers at different kinds of fears, what we need more than ever is a community that works together as a community of humans. We need to invest in communal organizations that have the intention to move our communities forward.

At MECCA Institute, like many other organizations, we are focused on bringing a progressive Islamic interpretation to both Muslims and non-Muslims. We are working hard to bring our faith out of a place of being associated with terror and injustice to a place where it is associated with progressive messages of love for all.

Join us.

Imam Daayiee Abdullah is an American man who converted to Islam in China in the 1980s. He has lived in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. He has appeared on major media networks worldwide, on behalf of LGBT Muslims. He is currently the Executive Director of  MECCA Institute, a progressive Islamic institute with a think tank and a school.

Image Credits: Activist by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

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