David Haines, A Legacy of Peace and Unity

David Haines, A Legacy of Peace and Unity

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Not how did he die, but how did he live?

Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?

These are the units to measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.

Nor what was his church, nor what was his creed?

But had he befriended those really in need?

Was he ever ready, with words of good cheer,

To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?

Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,

But how many were sorry when he passed away?

(Anonymous)

This poem set the tone of the ceremony. The mood was contagious, one with both cheers and tears.

Perth was basking in glorious autumn sunshine as me and a colleague made their way to David Haines’ memorial service at Perth Congregational Church. We were there to represent the muslim community in Scotland. There was a huge media presence on the outer grounds.  The ceremony though was private and no cameras were allowed inside the church. Bright colours not dull, was the order of the day. We were welcomed by the members of Haines family and reverend Gordan Campbell. As we took our seats, the proceedings began.

It was a moving ceremony. Bethany Haines, David’s daughter vowed to carry on in her father’s footsteps. Her resolve to become an aid worker is extremely courageous and commendable, given the tragic natures of her father’s demise.

Reverend Campbell gave an enlightening speech, one which carried a hadith that to us was very fitting for the occasion.  It was said that the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) once saw a funeral procession in Medina. He stood up as mark of respect. His companions were quick to point out that the man who passed away was a Jew. The prophet replied “Was he not a soul?”

David’s brother Michael Haines paid the tributes. His earlier message, at the time of David’s unfortunate death had reverberated across the Muslim world. He had quoted a verse from the Quran ,“Since good and evil cannot be equal, repel thou evil with something that is better” (chapter 41:34).

Michael wasn’t short of more inspiring words the second time around. He shared how David’s family were moved by the tremendous support from across the Muslim world. His message to everyone was to go back home and embrace your neighbour, no matter what cast or creed.

The overwhelming gratitude that was showered on us for our presence in the ceremony was humbling. It is remarkable that an atrocity as fracturus in its potential, acted as a catalyst in uniting us, to further the human cause. The credit goes to the Haines family in an exemplary steering of  emotions.

For David, the message to help thou neighbour was not just confined to his hometown, the whole world was his neighbour.

We hope and pray that his mission and that of many others, who risk everything to preserve human lives and dignity, carries on forever, untrammelled.

 

Not how did he die, but how did he live?

Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?

These are the units to measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.

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