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Lest We Forget: Nabra Hassanen

Another Ramadan is nearly here.

Another year of unified fasting.

Another year to work on upgrading

oneself to a status deserving of

Creator's Most Perfect Love which is

routinely given without sufficient


Perhaps, the ninth lunar month of

Ramadan is most known for its

demand upon observers to postpone

habits and blessings we take for granted,

and shun vices that are best for us to

always avoid. In doing so for an entire

month, we will hopefully absorb enough

knowledge and develop enough empathy

that will help us grow as human beings

and remember to offer a humanitarian

hand to others throughout the year-

and years to come.

Non-Muslims (and many Muslims, too)

tend to view or approach this sacred

month with almost a sense of gloom,

anticipating losses (at will eating,

drinking, and intimacy) rather than

gains (elevated spirituality and connec-

tion with The One, or a heightened

sense of brotherhood/sisterhood with

local and international Muslims).

I always like to hear the excitement

of young people as Ramadan approaches.

They are usually giddier about the

impending days-long 'Iyd at the end

and the gifts that accompany it than

fasting, per se, but they seem to greet

the month more heart happy, which I

like. That may have a lot to do with

their being able to hang at the masjid

well into the night, or even stay overnight.

Sometimes after mandatory worship

or between voluntary ones they will sit

outside talking and catching up, playing

basketball, or a number of other pastimes

that encourage bonding.

This time of year, especially, brings to

mind a Ramadan six years ago when

a group of Muslim teens were doing

exactly that. People were staying at the

masjid overnight in observance of

Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Power) which

falls on one of the odd nights during

the last ten of Ramadan. No one really

knows exactly which night it is so each is

spent in prayer, reflection, and comradery.

In 2017, Ramadan started at the tail

end of May and lasted for three days

shy of a full month. During the wee

hours of Sunday June 18 in Sterling,

Virginia the temperature was pleasant

and in the low seventies. Sometime

around 3:30 am fifteen or so friends

decided to leave the ADAMS Center to

walk to a nearby fast food restaurant

for food to eat before beginning the

day's fast at 4:09.

I recently visited the center for an

Islamic conference. It was bright,

inviting, and its sense of community was

palpable. As an outsider, I felt a very

happy and festive energy that made

me briefly wonder how difficult it would

be to relocate from Pennsylvania so

my family and I could become members.

My visit was in frigid January yet the

place was packed with delightful con-

gregants nonetheless. I can only imagine

what excitement charged the air on a

warm weekend in Ramadan a week

before 'Iyd. The teens must have been

elated and loving life before the

unthinkable happened less than an hour


I will be honest in stating that though

it has been years and know none of the

people involved personally, it is still quite

hard for me to fathom what occurred. I

have reacquainted myself with the case

through multiple newspaper articles in

order to write this post so I am further

traumatized by the facts- on top of what

I have been dealing with in my own life

pertaining to crime against an innocent

loved one. Therefore, I will not be going

into details, allowing readers to peruse

the links that detail the horror.

To summarize, on the way back for

prayer the teens got into what seems

to have been a small altercation with

a motorist who was just a few years

older than them. One of the friends

argued with the driver then threw a

cup of soda at his car. He in turn drove

the vehicle towards the group then

jumped out and chased them with an

aluminum baseball bat. They all took

off running.

Growing up in the city, having seen

and been included in scenarios very

much like this many times in my youth,

I can almost hear the mischievous

hooting and laughing that the youngsters

possibly exhibited from doing something

risqué. Again, the bat-welder was young

like them. He, too, they likely ascertained,

was just as harmless as them. They

would make it back the center, wash for

and perform the morning prayer, than

reminisce through giggles and reenactments

what had gone down. I am so sorry to say

that is not how the story ended.

During the adrenaline-filled getaway

one of the friends fell behind. Articles

say Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old

well-liked high schooler who had

recently completed her sophomore year

tripped, falling to the ground. The batter

came upon her and brutally attacked.

The links below will explain important

information further. Suffice to say, the

young Nabra lost her life that early

morning, in a most vicious manner.

The killer was apprehended and has

since been sentenced to life in prison.

I cannot imagine how horrified those

last moments of Nabra's life must have

been. Likewise, I cannot imagine how

her parents get to sleep at night, or

how they have coped and managed to

go on in life. Unfortunately, I am now a

forced member of the group of depressed

parents who have had our precious,

innocent babies savagely snatched

from us. Without warning. Without the

opportunity to save them nor offer our

own lives for theirs. I am dumbfounded

by how they all have not died of sadness.

I am envious and unsure if I am made

of the same stuff of which they are


Time will tell.

In the interim I will remember to

keep sweet Nabra and in my duas,

asking Allah to shower her with

Divine Mercy, and to allow the misery

and oppression I am sure her parents

are plagued with- despite the necessity

for them to continue this physical

journey without her- to free them

of any sins or punishment for short-

comings on that Day (Amin). I ask

that you remember them, too.



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