THE BLOG
04/23/2013 01:42 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2013

Gratitude From Duke's Muslim Community

The dust has yet to settle in response to the horrific Boston bombings and the related events that have unfolded since then. It has been an incredible, difficult and painful week for all Americans, to say the least. Without a doubt, it will take time for our nation to process our grief, fear and anxieties as we eagerly wait for so many pending questions to be answered. The tragedy has been particularly painful and traumatizing for millions of proud American Muslims, considering the two alleged perpetrators of these heinous bombings are Muslims and have been living in the United States for quite some time.

So much has been said and written about this, and much more will follow as information comes to light about who these two brothers are, what their motivations were and why our law enforcement agencies couldn't stop them before they carried out their treacherous attacks. Just as much has been written and said about how Islam as a religion and Muslims as people can't be blamed for the acts of criminals and how this tragedy should not add fuel to the already existing Islamophobia flames in the country.

Therefore, I will not repeat what many people have already said. Instead, I would like to share with you how humbling, gratifying and reassuring (in addition to painful and discouraging) this past week has been for me and for my community here at Duke.

I know that many Muslims feel let down and discouraged as a result of what has been going on. So many of us are listening in dismay and horror to the voices of hate and exclusion emerging in response to this recent tragedy, which are shamefully calling for tighter racial profiling of Muslims. Many of us spend hours trying to make sense of hate crimes committed against several Muslims and Muslim-looking individuals. I highly caution all of us not to be consumed by the destructive hands of despair and hopelessness. Only then will the evildoers behind these kinds of heinous terrorist attacks be successful. As we mourn and pray for the victims in Boston, as we unleash our understandable anger and frustration in response to the many ugly sides of humanity uncovered during these difficult times, let us not fail to see and take note of the eventual beauty and blessings emerging in the midst of this storm.

All of the members of Duke's Muslim community, myself included, have been receiving an incredible amount of unsolicited support, care and love from friends locally, nationally and internationally. These messages continue to pour in as you read this.

Emails, text messages, Facebook messages and phone calls started coming minutes after the bombs went off in Boston and the news started occupying the headlines. These admirably emphatic souls were sharing our immediate fears and troubling wishes: "I hope there is no Muslim involvement in this ... you and your community are in our thoughts and prayers. Please let us know how we can be of help."

These notes of support intensified as the identity of the suspects behind this tragedy were revealed to the media. In increasing numbers, people were sharing many Muslim Americans' fearful anticipation of backlash and fear mongering. A meme posted on Facebook by a fellow non-Muslim Duke student, "Keep Calm and Resist Islamophobia," had more than one hundred shares in a very short period of time.

The sensationalist media will not cover these kinds of developments. They will continue to cover the most extreme voices and experiences on all sides. Therefore, it is extremely important for us to highlight the encouraging developments emerging in response to this recent, evil terrorist attack. The humbling support and overwhelming love that many fellow Americans have shown is crystal-clear proof that the forces of exclusion, division and hate will be defeated by the forces of inclusion, love and respect once more in our beautiful society.

You only discover your true friends, and how precious and extraordinarily important they are, during these trying and difficult times. For those who have expressed their love, care and support to the American Muslim Community, on behalf of all American Muslims: Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Your friendship and your choice to uphold high ethical and moral values of love and inclusion will not be forgotten. Thanks, from billions.

This column was originally published in the Duke Chronicle. It has been reprinted with permission.