A Muslim teacher who shielded Christians during a recent attack by militants has died of his wounds.
The story, which you can read here, gained worldwide attention after Al Shabab militants stopped the passengers of a bus and demanded the Muslims and Christians split into two groups. Salah Farah was among the Muslims who reportedly defied the militants, saying “Kill us together, or leave us alone.”
Farah, a 34 year-old teacher and school headmaster, was on his way home from a conference when the bus was stopped. He later told the BBC:
They told us if you are a Muslim, we are safe. There were some people who were not Muslim. They hid their heads.
According to the Daily Nation, some of the Muslim women on the bus hurriedly gave hijabs (head scarves) to the Christian women so they could appear more Muslim. Meanwhile, the Muslim men left the bus to confront the gunmen.
“We asked them to kill all of us or leave us alone,” Farah said. “As we argued, they shot me and the boy. One man who also came out of the bus and tried to escape to the bush was shot.”
Farah was shot multiple times in the arm and hip before being airlifted to a hospital in Kenya. He died during surgery to treat his wounds. Before passing, Farah reportedly said:
People should live peacefully together. We are brothers. It’s only the religion that is the difference, so I ask my brother Muslims to take care of the Christians so that the Christians also take care of us… and let us help one another and let us live together peacefully.
Salah Farah’s story flies in the face of the anti-Muslim rhetoric spreading across Europe and North America. While many slip deeper into fear, Farah chose to walk a different path. He chose to love anyway, even though it cost him his life.
In the New Testament, Jesus told his followers, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15, NIV). Salah Farah demonstrated this kind of love for his fellow passengers last month. Splitting into two groups, Muslim and Christian, would have been easier. It would have been the safer path for Farah, a Muslim man.
Dividing is always easier.
But choosing to stick out your neck when you don’t have to; to unite; to stand up for one another, even when it means going against members of your own tribe—that will cost you!
Greater love has no one than Salah Farah. Earlier this week, he was laid to rest outside the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. In one of his final interviews, Farah said he still believed he’d done the right thing. He believed it was worth it.
“But to me, according to my belief, Muslims and Christians are neighbors, and they can live together…”
Photo Credit: James Ekwam.