On Saturday, the 5th of December, the Unitarian Church in Quincy hosted an event for the public, titled Islam. We were three speakers. I was given the topic about how media misrepresents the true religion. Before the meeting started, I thought I would go over to our Islamic Center and get a few pamphlets and take them with me to the church in case any body was interested in reading about the real religion. I am always trying to educate the public! 😉
As I drove up, I noticed that our sign to the center was missing. It was put in by the city when we had bought that building; and while the metal post was standing, the sign itself was gone. That scared me, and I drove into the parking lot, hoping that I would find the sign somewhere. But I didn’t find it. After getting the pamphlets from inside the mosque I returned to the Unitarian church. There was a lot of TV coverage, along with reporters from the local news paper, and while talking to them I said that our sign from the mosque was stolen. That became the headline news that evening. Meanwhile I called the Quincy Police Department and told them that while there was no vandalism as such, our sign was removed (stolen). An officer came home and took the report.
I should let my readers know that the FBI has been extremely helpful to us with regards to the building of the mosque, and sometimes they ask if they can come and sit at our gathering on Fridays, and have always told us that if ever there was any vandalism, I should let them know. Therefore, I sent an email to our local agent a few days later about the missing sign. That same week, a couple of days after I had sent him the mail, I received an email from the agent, —“the QPD has informed me that they have found the person(s) who have stolen the sign. You will be contacted within 24 hours.”
My jaw dropped. Honestly, I never thought that we would get the sign back at all. Meanwhile I had an interview on the CBS affiliate radio station about Islam and terrorism and what was real and what was media related fear and hatred. I had been so busy with all these various programs that I did not mention about the mail from FBI to anyone, not even my husband. The following day after that interview, I received a call from a detective from the police department. He said that he had found the culprits. They were five students, seniors and a junior from the local Catholic High school. They had confessed to the vandalism. Their parents were told about the misdemeanor, and had to come to the station. The officer told me that the parents were extremely angry with the boys, and told them that they had to pay for the new sign which I had already installed, and do other chores for the mosque. I told the officer that I didn’t want anything like that. I just wanted peace in this community, and didn’t want the young men to have their names in the police report or in the newspaper for something like that. I didn’t want them ostracized by their friends or neighbors.
The following day, the athletic director of the school called me. He told me that he had suspended the students from taking part in the sports. He said that the boys and the parents wanted to meet with me to apologize personally. I didn’t want them to do that. I asked that they can just write a letter and I would read it to the congregation on Friday. He insisted that I come to the school and meet with them.
So, this past Friday, I went there with my son and met with those students and their parents. The parents were in tears at what the sons had done, and the boys were so ashamed that they couldn’t meet my eyes. While I had options, I knew how much the parents were hurting, and how sorry the ‘stupid’ kids were feeling for doing what they did. The principal of the school was there and asked that I say something. This is what I told them.
‘I am not here to advise you. I don’t do advise. I just want you to know that we are a very small Muslim community in one of the finest towns in America. I want to live with peace in my heart, and I hope you all can find peace in yours. I applaud your parents for being here. Ten years from now, you may be teachers, or police officers, or doctors and work alongside Muslims. You have to be righteous. The best person is one who is righteous, and the one who is most righteous, is the one who is most honorable. Period. That’s all I want to say to you. Make your parents proud of you, and let them smile.”
It was an emotional setting, to say the least. The parents were hugging me and the mothers and fathers were sobbing. I needed to get out of that place before I broke down and bawled along with them. So I said my good bye and as I was leaving, a father held my hand and said, “this was such a lesson in kindness.”
That touched my heart strings. And now you know the rest of the story!