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We Can Stop It

 

I don't know what compelled me to look out the window at a neighboring apartment building this morning.  Maybe I just wanted to peer out at my flowers on the balcony highlighted in the sun.  But instead of having the pleasure of gazing at their colors, movement in the garden of that neighboring building caught my eye.

At first I thought the people who own the property had come back to take a few more things from one of the apartments before the company they hired to tear it down and put up a new building got started.  But then I didn't recognize the two ladies wandering around near the construction company's lumber supplies as any one of my previous neighbors.  From their suspicious, reluctant behavior, I soon realized it was a couple of gypsies that had come to haul off whatever metal they could find.

I was filled with pity and then disgust.  Sure it's good of them to go around collecting unwanted metal placing them on the back of their archaic horse drawn carriage to take renewable resources to the recycling center in exchange for their daily bread.  Although hard and dirty, that's an honest living.  But this was theft!  They were going to rip off my neighbor's construction company!  Knowing time was of the essence and the police could not make it soon enough, I called the local market that delivers to our neighborhood figuring they would know how to get in touch with my old neighbors.  I thought there might be a chance that they were staying close enough by to come and stop this theft.

But that was to no avail.  These unscrupulous people left and came back within half an hour for another load of contraband.  Knowing what they were doing was wrong they were hasty and shifty-eyed ever looking over their shoulders for someone who might come to the rescue of my neighbor.

The words of the Prophet rang in my mind:

If one of you sees something evil, he should change it with his hand.  If he cannot, he should speak out against it.  And if he cannot do even that, he should at least detest it in his heart, this being the weakest form of faith.

I wanted to run down stairs and stand guard over my neighbor's property, but like my mom used to say, "If they lie, they'll steal.  If they steal, they can kill."  It was two against one, and I had serious doubts as to whether these people had the decency to back down when confronted with what was right.  If they were too desperate, they might fight me.  On the other hand, if I stepped out onto my balcony to call them down for their wrong, then they would know where I lived, and again some form of desperation might drive them to cause me harm.  But I had to do something.  I made a phone call to another neighbor in hopes that her husband might be home and able to go with someone to stop this violation.  But that too was of no benefit.  So there I stood peering from behind the sheers watching injustice in action cringing at the wretched state of affairs, the loss of my neighbor, and the evil of the people who could stoop so low.

Where is the legal system that once alleviated almost all of such things through appropriate punishment of crimes and proper distribution of funds to the poor?  Where are the people who establish what is right and forbid what is evil in their homes, communities, and the world?  Where is the courage to take that necessary action regardless of some short-term, seemingly negative consequence?  When will we realize that until we establish ourselves upon what the Creator has ordained for us, we will always be afflicted by harm and subjected to evil?

As a native of Texas who converted to Islam at age nineteen, Najla Tammy Ilhan strives to share glimpses of the wisdom she has found in the seventeen years since
 

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