Ayyan Zubair is a student at Stony Brook University. A native of the community, Zubair graduated from East Meadow High School in 2015 and is a member of the Long Island Muslim Society.

 

I grew up in Long Island as the son of two Pakistani Muslim immigrants. Currently, I attend Stony Brook University, where I study Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Economics. I founded a non-profit, Pakistanis 4 Social Change, that aims to elevate the voice of Pakistanis in America and around the world. Also, I serve as Youth Representative for the American Pakistani Foundation at the United Nations, as well as serving as an Adviser to the Pakistani Mission to the United Nations. I write a column entitled “Views from the Six” for my local newspaper, the East Meadow Herald, and am a Huffington Post Blogger.

The nation awoke last Sunday to horrifying news: 49 people were dead and at least another 50 injured after a gunman unleashed fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The alleged perpetrator — Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard — called 911 and claimed allegiance to the Islamic State, commonly referred to as ISIS and/or ISIL.

Tragically, America finds itself once again a victim of hate. Americans have been down this road far too often; Newtown, Conn., San Bernardino, Calif. and Charleston, S.C. and have all also faced senseless violence in recent years as a result of such hate. And while the type of hatred might differ, hate is hate.

Today, the world mourns as a monolith. Today, one’s race, religion, political stance, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and nationality are no matter — we all are in a state of grieving. Today, we put our differences aside and unite as humans against hatred, against bigotry. Today, we embrace our innate humanity.

But what about tomorrow? Will we regress back to the divisiveness that has plagued us since time immemorial? Will we continue to spew hateful rhetoric against those with whom we disagree, painting entire groups with broad strokes upon the actions of a few? Will we forget the empathy we felt for complete strangers just a fortnight prior?

These are the questions that we all must ponder.

In a few days, the shock will dissipate and the grief will turn into numbness. This numbness will create a void; it is up to you and I to decide how we choose to fill this void. Will it be filled with hatred, or with understanding and compassion? I certainly hope that we choose the latter.

Stereotyping is easy. It is quite simple to hate Muslims because of the actions of Mateen and his ilk. ISIL and Al Qaeda would love for attacks such as these to divide America further apart. Will we let them have their way? I certainly hope not.

American Muslims are as heartbroken as any other community.

I believe I speak on behalf of all of my fellow Muslims, Americans and human beings when I say I unequivocally condemn and deplore the heinous actions and of all the demons who choose terror and bloodshed over peace and dialogue around the world. The American Muslim community stands with and prays for the victims and families of the deadly attack.

We stand in solidarity — we stand as Americans — against hatred. President Barack Obama said it best in his address this weekend: “An attack on any American is an attack on all of us.”

We’ve been in this situation before, America. We cannot let fear win. We cannot become reactionaries and degrade ourselves to nativist sentiment and hateful rhetoric. Now, more than ever, we must stand together as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

God bless the United States of America. God bless the world.

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