They actually put this fear in me. I hardly went to the mosque during Ramadan due to the fear that a terrorist will come and shoot the people as it happened before.
In this counseling answer:
• Realistically, there’s more chance of you dying in a car crash in the way to the masjid, or even just your usual grocery shop than being shot by a terrorist. Yet, we still do these things.
• Beyond considering the more likely outcome, that you attend and nothing happens, should there be a terrorist attack, is this not the best way to die? In prayer.
• Take control back yourself. Don’t let their attackers’ actions control you.
• Fear Allah, not the people. Trust Allah, and face your fears; go to the masjid and enjoy Eid prayer with your community without allowing such fears to overcome you.
Wa Alaikum salaam wa Rahmatullah wa barakatuh sister,
Certainly, we live in frightening times with all the attacks and discrimination we hear about towards Muslims. This is particularly difficult for those in the West where the Muslim communities are limited. It’s not unusual then that there is a great sense of fear in the community as you are feeling now.
Fear is a normal response to danger
Fear is a useful emotional response. It prevents us from doing dangerous things. In this case, going somewhere where there is a risk, that is the masjid.
What is your evidence that you should be afraid to go the masjid? Terror attacks in masjids in the West, most recently the one you have cited in New Zealand. As a result, you have now developed this fear of attending the masjid because of such events.
On top of this, your fear is likely exacerbated as it was shown so much on TV. However, such coverage can lead to an overestimation over the likelihood that it would actually happen to you.
When experiencing such intense fear around something that is an important part of one’s life, it is important to take a step back and examine your thoughts and their rationality. The fear is real, but the thoughts that elicit it are often irrational.
In this case, think about the following;
What’s the chance of it actually happening? Realistically, there’s more chance of you dying in a car crash in the way to the masjid, or even just your usual grocery shop than being shot by a terrorist. Yet, we still do these things.
Yes, it might be said that the chances are low, but it still could happen on the day you attend, at the masjid you attend, but uncertainty is a part of life. We face it every single day. Just going to the shop, how can you be sure that a mass shooting will not occur there? Or that you’d not get kidnapped, or involved in a car accident?
These things happen. Not often, but it’s possible, yet you go about your daily life running the risk that these things could happen.
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Even in the home. People have died in freak accidents just doing household chores; fallen downstairs, gotten electrocuted with an appliance, slipped on water, yet we still attend to these things regularly with little fear. If we lived our lives fearing everything that could possibly happen, even with the smallest risk, we would barely get out of bed every day.
Worst case scenario
Beyond considering the more likely outcome, that you attend and nothing happens, should there be a terrorist attack, is this not the best way to die? In prayer.
We dislike thinking about death. No one wants to die, but we must at some point. Won’t we wish for the best death? And what would be a better of our life here in this world than praying in the masjid thinking of Allah.
“O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him].” (Qur’an, 3:102)
Don’t reinforce your fears
By not attending the Eid prayer, you will only reinforce your fear that it is too dangerous to go. You will reinforce your parents’ fears.
Once you have attended, then twice, and so on, you and your parents will come to see that there is no need to be fearful to the point that it prevents you from connecting with the community and attending to your religious obligations anymore.
Don’t reinforce terrorists’ intentions
Take control back yourself. Don’t let their attackers’ actions control you. To go to the masjid and pray your Eid prayer, you have won in ways than one. You have fulfilled your obligations, got to be with other sisters in a special day, overcome your fears and not succumbed to what the attackers wanted. If you don’t attend, then you leave the attackers victorious as they have achieved what they wanted in forcing worshipers away from prayer.
Fear Allah, not people
The acts of a few have led to much fear amongst the Ummah, including yourself. But we must also remember that it is not a man we should fear, but Allah. People can cause us harm in this life, but ultimately Allah is the one in control. He has power over everything, and he will decide on the ultimate end for everyone.
We should fear Allah and obey His commands if we are to be winners in this life and the next. We can’t allow the actions of others to cause fear in us and prevent us from doing the things that please Allah – such as attending Eid prayer.
That is only Satan who frightens [you] of his supporters. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers. (Qur’an, 3:175)
Turning away from the masjid will push you from the religion. This is exactly what the attackers want! Your fear is separating you from your religion, putting a barrier between you and attending Eid prayer. Instead, turn to Allah and trust Him as you face your thoughts and fears and move forward.
“If Allah should aid you, no one can overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who is there that can aid you after Him? And upon Allah let the believers rely.” (Qur’an, 3:160)
Before you go to the masjid, prepare mentally. Have happy thoughts, connect to Allah, and feel relaxed.
Furthermore, as time passes and a terrorist attack does not happen, the anxieties will naturally reduce.
Once you have been at least with no incident, it will be easier to fix your irrational thoughts as you gather evidence that it is safe to attend.
The fear of terrorism is very real due to the recent attacks. However, with it the weight in which it has been covered in the media and the severity of such events, this only exacerbates the fear.
This leads to irrational thought patterns that only reinforce this fear further. This will have negative consequences in pushing you away from Islam and your faith, if you don’t try and actively combat such thoughts and move forward.
Think about the chances of your fear actually coming to light? Especially as compared to other more likely events that you encounter every day.
Giving negative thought continued attention will not only reinforce them in your mind and actions, but also your parents.
Furthermore, this will only satisfy what the attackers wanted in the first place. Instead, focus on alternatives that are more rational. Trust Allah, and face your fears; go to the masjid and enjoy Eid prayer with your community without allowing such fears to overcome you.
May Allah bless your efforts in seeking to please Him and may He grant you a safe and happy Eid.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.