A Tribute to Our Three Winners
By: Sidra Hashmi
Three stars on earth. Three bright, intelligent, youthful, loving, caring, giving, selfless, honorable individuals. Three who were taken from the world at the prime of their promising lives, at the hands of one who had no right to do so. Three who deserved the best treatment from everyone, but received the worst as their last interaction in this life. Three students. Three volunteers. Three siblings. Three children. Three Muslims. Three Americans. Three who gave everything they had to help the world become a better place. A husband, his wife, her sister. Three winners in life. Three winners in death.
Our Three Winners: Deah Barakat 23, Yosur Abu-Salha 21, Razan Abu-Salha 19.
There is so much to be said about the injustice in this case, the hate, the tragedy, the selective media, the double standards on “which lives matter more”, the humanity that seems to be lost in so many people, and the increasing rate of hate crimes against Muslims occurring all around the world.
However, there is more to be said about the sympathy, the love coming from every country, the memories the three have left, the amazing works they started before leaving us, the amplified awareness that all lives matter, the humanity that is still to be found in so many people, and the increasing rate of folks coming to and opening their hearts to Islam.
Our beautiful Razan once tweeted an equally beautiful quote saying “Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.”
In all that has happened in the last few days, in all the digging into their pasts that the general public has been doing, in all the interviews with close family, friends, peers, colleagues, professors, and acquaintances, not one ounce of bad has been found in association with the three heroes of Chapel Hill. Not one shred of negativity, not one scene of anger, not one upsetting memory; only positivity, hopefulness, happiness, and good has surfaced, and the public have quickly come to love these three whose lives continue to shine through the darkness of these testing times.
These three youths, these three angels, lived their lives to the fullest and spread more love to more people than many of us can even begin to understand. Even after their extraordinarily pure lives ended, they continue to bring masses together in solidarity, in harmony, in peace. Surely they have won, surely they will continue winning.
Let’s make an effort to remember our three winners by the legacy they left behind, not by the way they were killed. Let’s honor them by striving to be as honest, humble, generous, and kind as they were.
A recording of Yusor’s conversation with her third grade teacher from last May breaks my heart as she says, “Growing up in America has been such a blessing. It doesn’t matter where you come from. There’s so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions – but here, we’re all one.”
We, as Americans, have failed in truly being “one”. Although nothing can reverse the damage that has been done, it is time to eradicate hate from this beautiful country; the hate that killed Deah, Yosur, Razan, and countless others before and after them – the hate that threatens the lives of so many solely based on differences in race, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. This is a call to action.
When hate kills, kill hate with kindness. In loving memory of our heroes, it is our job to carry on their legacies. To let them see their dreams come true as they watch over us from heaven. Here’s to making the world a better place, here’s to Our Three Winners.
Meet The Winners:
Deah Shaddy Barakat (23)
Doctoral student in his 2nd year at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry; graduated from Broughton High School, Wake County Public School District, NC in 2009
Deah married Yusor Abu-Salha on December 27, 2014
Tweeted on January 28, 2015 about peace and tolerance
Barakat launched a website to raise funds to go to Turkey this summer to provide dental care to Syrian refugees there. Ten local dentists and faculty from UNC School of Dentistry were planning a trip to Rihaniya, Turkey to provide dental care to Syrian refugees there.
His father, Namee Barakat, described his son as “always smiling,” and his son and daughter-in-law, who met at NC State as undergrads, “bright, intelligent, thoughtful, generous, and loving.”
American of Syrian descent, loved basketball
Yusor Abu-Salha (21)
NC State university student who had planned to join UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry in the fall
Wife of Deah Barakat, sister of Razan Abu-Salha (3rd victim)
Graduated from Athens Drive High School, Wake County Public School District, NC in 2011
Immigrated from Jordan with her family at 6 months old and graduated from NC State in December after studying biological sciences
Father, Mohammad Abu-Salha: “She grew up to be a gorgeous, outstanding young lady.”
Planned to join her husband on trip to Turkey this summer
Razan Abu-Salha (19)
NC State University Student, sophomore
Sister of Yusor Abu-Salha and sister-in-law of Deah Barakat
Graduated from Athens Drive High School, Wake County Public School District, NC in 2013
Was visiting her sister from Raleigh, where she had recently made the Dean’s List for the Fall 2014 semester
A design major, Razan often blogged about photography and art
Hoped to join newlyweds on their trip to Turkey
(Details reported and updated by Rethinkmedia.org)
To Him do we belong, and to Him shall we return. May they rest in the greatest of peace and ease. Please keep the families and friends they have left behind in your prayers and may we all find solace in knowing Deah, Yosur, and Razan are together in the best of places now.