Last week I had the utmost privilege to meet a woman who was present at the Dean St Mosque, مسجد Masjid Al Noor, in Christchurch at the time of the terrorist shooting on 15 March 2019. In fact, she told us, she was one of the first to call emergency services, having managed to hide from the terrorist in the bathroom.
I sat with tears streaming down my face as Jumayah told the group I was with about her experience. She spoke calmly, directly, and gracefully. I was in awe of her ability to describe what must have been terrifying events in such a matter of fact manner.
When she began talking about her faith (Iman) in the Islamic creed (Aqidah), and the six articles, and the five pillars (acts of worship or arkan al-Islam; also arkan ad-din), by which it is represented, I began to understand how she was able to take such a pragmatic approach to what had happened. In particular, she believed, as is one of the articles of Islam, in "divine will" or "al-qadāʾ wa l-qadar, which literally derives from a root that means to measure. Everything, good and bad, is believed to have been decreed." (Wikipedia)
As such, she saw the atrocity as predestined, that those killed were decreed to die and that even the terrorist's actions were "written" or predetermined.
The words, "bigotry blinds us to beauty," ran through my head as I listened to Jumaya. I felt the sense of connecting with a divine soul in human form, of humility, peace and unconditional love emanating from her and filling the room.
When we hate or are scared or threatened by diversity, we miss the beauty dwelling in those who may seem different to us; and we miss the common elements of humanity that interconnects us
And, in a sense, what I witnessed from Jumaya was the complete opposite of bigotry blinding us to beauty: her beauty blinded her to the bigotry that drove the terrorist to attack. Because of this she, and other Muslims I suspect, can and do live in peace amongst the atrocities and wonders of our world.