When the initial broadcast first reached me, yes, that ugly one. The one that named seven Muslim boys as rapists, I was not sure what to feel. Shock registered strongly on my emotional seismograph. Strong aftershocks of disgust and horror, sheer disbelief soon followed.
The liberal, pragmatic me, went to lengths to drive home what I’ve always known to be true. That people are just people. Regardless of race or creed. But the Muslim in me screamed about how NO MUSLIM BOY WOULD EVER defile his ‘sister’ thus. How NO MUSLIM BOY who understands the value of a mother or sister WOULD EVER rape a fellow muslimah. Gang rape belonged in the realm of far removed from reality fiction.
Discussion was lively on twitter. I slept, my mind a whirl of confused emotions. Even dreamt of the whole saga.
I woke to more bbm broadcasts. One’s that named the girls. Others that told the ‘other’ side of the story.
By that point all disbelief and horror had given way to pure disgust. And some degree of anger.
- What kind of a self-respecting human (forget Muslim) would broadcast a message that names minors as rapists without first verifying the facts - Conclusion: Not every person with functional thumbs should have access to BBM. Since having thumbs that can type, doesn’t guarantee a brain that actually works.
- While Islamic media and community gossip mongers have a field day, what does this say about us as a community? About how we’re raising our kids? About the values we’re imparting? Conclusion: Something’s broken.
It would be easy to start the finger pointing. To start apportioning blame. To try to find scapegoats. But for me, the less easy, and more important route would be to take a step back. Look at what happened dispassionately. Use it for what it is. A mirror. See what kind of a reflection that shows us of ourselves. See what it says about us as humans and as Muslims.
I’m terrified that these words will come back to bite me in the ass, since I have 5 kids of my own. My eldest being the same age as some of the boys named. I discussed this with him last night. He’d heard the other side of the story before me, it turned out. His view was that the bulk of the blame rested with the parents. I’m a parent. Knowing that my son views the situation in that light terrifies me. Since it reminds me of how weighty the task I am faced with is. Of how huge my responsibility to those five impressionable minds is. Of how important the messages I give them are.
We could start reading to people the quraanic verses about zina. And shaking fire and brimstone filled fists at them. We could go all holier than thou and speak of the ills of the age and how parents are failing at their duties. Or we could say: “What am I doing. Me, Saaleha, what am I doing to help?”
The facts remain. Nine lives have been irrevocably altered by what transpired. The truth of the situation, only they know. Our duty is to see that never again in our lifetimes do we see a repeat of something so ugly, and yes, painful.
Dua is needed. But let’s balance that dua with action. Stop talking people. Let’s start doing.