The tragic events at Virginia Tech brought deep sadness and my heart goes out to the victims, their families and the school.

Then, what came to mind was the fear of the possibility of association with the terrorism that has always been associated with Muslims – like what happened right after the Oklahoma City bombing.

Soon after the shooting, NBC News found and published the material sent by the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, that included an angry diatribe against the rich and uncaring society. The statements also included a religious message, “Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.”

None of the media exploited this message as associated with a religion, which was the right way to report the events.

Various items that were discussed were gun control, reporting of mental disorders, etc. I believe what was missing from the debate are our societal breakdowns. Our education system has left behind many children, with large class sizes.

The under-funding of No Child Left Behind policy has left teachers with cumbersome administrative duties and little time to build teaching and mentoring relationships with students. Also, the proliferation of violent video games and movies, such as the “Rambo,” “Terminator” and “Die Hard” series and others featuring “famous” actors.

The Virginia Tech tragedy represented victims from a large spectrum of our increasingly diverse society. The university administration did a good job by inviting leaders from the diverse grieving community of secular, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews.

How do Muslims deal with grief and death? Here is a brief description.

“To God we belong and to him shall we return.” These are the words that are said when a Muslim hears of a death.

The relatives are recommended to add, “My Lord, give me patience for my tragedy and provide me with better than I have lost.” Patience, acceptance and hope are desired for the grieving. (MORE)

[Riaz Hasan is a former director of outreach for the Tracy Islamic Center. He is now active in Islamic Outreach in the greater Bay Area and San Joaquin County. For more information, call (209) 830-6286 or e-mail .]


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