Chapel Hill shooting

Explaining the Chapel Hill shooting to children

A moving and age appropriate guide for parents struggling to explain the Chapel Hill tragedy to their children, written by California-based teacher, Hina Khan-Mukhtar:

Many parents have been asking how to talk about the Chapel Hill homicides with their children. Here is what I wrote to a Facebook friend today. I am focusing on the lives of the three who were killed, not their deaths. I discussed this with my 7th graders today as well. I reminded them that death is inevitable whether we live five days, 25 years, or a 100. Every single one of us will experience death – it is a guarantee.

The point is what was the total sum of our lives? These three martyrs lived full lives of service and benefit to others in their “short” lives. There are many witnesses who testify to their inherent goodness. Their last FB posts were about feeding the homeless and taking care of refugees. Deah’s tweet was about wanting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I shared the interview Yusor did with her Islamic school principal and pointed out how grateful and kind she was in her manners and in her speech. We talked about how do we want to be remembered? If we die tomorrow, what will our friends and our social media friends say about us? Will the poor and the hungry miss us? How many people will want to come to our funerals? Yes, we live our lives to please Allah, but how we affect people matters too.

I reminded them to pray for safety and to know that no one can harm us unless Allah wills it. People say that those three had “their whole lives in front of them” and that “their futures were taken from them”. No, they didn’t and, no, they weren’t. This is exactly how much life Allah had written for them. None of us know when our end is coming, but we need to prepare for that inevitable day when it does.

I told them that it is still our duty to do whatever we can to ensure that this type of heinous crime doesn’t happen again, insha’Allah, but in the end, we know that Allah has created both demonic people and angelic people, and we pray that we are of those people who are most pleasing to Him.

We are either benefiting people and the world or we are harming people and this world…there is no neutral ground. It’s one or the other. We have to all assess our own lives and see what kind of impact we are making on our friends, family, and society at large.

Hicks’ first wife left him, citing cruelty on his part (it’s in the official records). His neighbors say he was a belligerent man and many people had reported him to the apartment complex HOA as a nuisance. He loved those tools that can be used to harm and kill (i.e. guns).

Deah, Yusor, and Razan are spoken about by everyone with nothing but the highest of praise. Two were in dentistry and the other was in architecture. Their tools of choice (dental instruments and architect’s materials) were used to heal and bring beauty to people and the world. What do we love? What do ppl have to say about us? Will it be a relief to others when we are gone, or will the world mourn our passing?


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