With thousands of Kiwis wanting to reach out to offer their generous help to Muslim communities all over the country, Kiwi Muslim Samir Harith has shared some important things to keep in mind when offering help.
In a Facebook post, Harith, a Malaysian Muslim and lecturer at the University of Waikato, who made New Zealand his home in 2014, points out a number of details New Zealanders of other backgrounds should be aware of, to ensure respect for the Muslim community.
These are things the majority of people of other religions might not be aware of so it's important to spread the message far and wide.
"So many of my non-Muslim friends have asked me what they can do to help the Muslim community here in NZ in light of Friday's tragedy. Lots of good meaning souls out there and it's the biggest reason why I love NZ so much. So for those of you who want to do something, here are some pointers," Harith began.
His post asks people to be cautious about:
1. Physical contact
"Yes, it's normal for us Kiwis to hug and embrace with each other on any occasion, but for most Muslims, physical contact with members of the opposite gender is taboo. Hugs, handshakes and embraces with members of the same gender is fine, but if you wish to express your condolences to a Muslim individual of an opposite gender, a simple hand over heart gesture is fine."
2. Donating food to mosques
"A great idea! However, unless you are familiar with what constitutes 'Halal' [permissible] food, I would advise not to donate food to mosques. While they will definitely appreciate your contribution, if they suspect that the food is non-halal it will likely go to waste. If you wish to learn more about what halal food is, please talk to your local mosque leaders."
3. Attending funerals/grieving with Muslims
"Muslims are famous for being completely efficient with burying and grieving our dead. Generally speaking, fallen Muslims are usually buried and grieved within the day [hence the frustration when our loved ones aren't able to be buried on time]. So no, you probably won't have a chance to grieve with us simply because our grieving is a very private, efficient affair."
He goes on to explain what people can do to help:
1. Spread the word and share your solidarity with not just Muslims but all Kiwis, because all of us, as a country are affected by this tragedy.
2. Call out hate speech wherever you hear/see it. I can't stress this enough. No matter how small, no matter how innocuous it sounds, call it out and tell people to cut out that s**t.
3. Attend vigils organised by your local mosque and/or other religious organisations. This tragedy has brought out the best in us as it stretches across a different multitude of faiths. If you want to show your support - there is a great place to do it.
According to Harith, there are also a few things you should definitely NOT do:
1. Sharing images/videos or discussing of the terrorist that committed the attacks - let's not give him and his toxic ideology any more screentime. It has no place in this country.
2. Make it about you. No, it's not about you, it's about us as a country and how we can move forwards from this tragedy and make sure it doesn't happen again.
3. Perpetrate racial hate and division - this is what caused the tragedy in the first place. No matter your colour, no matter your creed DO NOT make this a race thing. Its not about race, it's about hatred and what we can do to stop it. Also, for fellow Muslims reading this post, DO NOT make any statements disparaging Westerners because of the violent acts of one terrorist - you don't like them doing that to us, don't do it to them.
"Kia kaha NZ, we'll get through this together," he concluded.