'Yes my name is Mahmoud a proud Muslim American.'
On June 12, 2016, the deadliest mass shooting in American history unfolded at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
At least 50 people were killed with dozens more injured. The terrorist act — committed by a homophobic, religious extremist — sparked reactions from President Barack Obama and leaders from around the world.
Unfortunately, a knee-jerk response from some people was to condemn the violence with misinformed fear — to blame all Muslims for the ideology a very small group promotes.
It's a dangerous response to have — especially if you're a presidential hopeful with a platform — because implying all Muslims are capable of committing (or sympathizing with) such an atrocity only further divides our communities and justifies prejudice.
That's why one Florida man's viral Facebook post in the wake of the tragedy is all the more important.
Mahmoud ElAwadi, a Muslim who lives in Orlando, shared a photo of himself giving blood on Sunday. In the post — which within a day was shared more than 110,000 times — ElAwadi points out several truths every American should keep in mind while processing what happened.
Here is ElAwadi's post in full:
-Yes my name is Mahmoud a proud Muslim American.
-Yes I donated blood even though I can't eat or drink anything cause I'm fasting in our holy month Ramadan just like hundreds of other Muslims who donated today here in Orlando.
-Yes I'm angry for what happened last night and all the innocent lives we lost.
-Yes I'm sad, frustrated and mad that a crazy guy [claiming] to be a Muslim did that shameful act.
-Yes I witnessed the greatness of this country watching thousands of people standing in 92 degree sun waiting on their turn to donate blood even after they were told that the wait time is 5-7 hours.
-Yes this is the greatest nation on earth watching people from different ... ages including kids volunteering to give water, juice, food, umbrellas, sun block. Also watching our old veterans coming to donate. And next to them Muslim women in hijab carrying food and water to donors standing in line.
-Yes together we will stand against hate, terrorism, extremism and racism.
-Yes our blood all [looks] the same so get out there and donate blood cause our fellow American citizens are injured and need our blood.
-Yes our community in central Florida is heart broken but let's put our colors, religions, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political views all aside so we can UNITE against those who are trying to hurt us.
Here are three crucial reminders ElAwadi highlighted in his post.
1. This terrorist's actions do not reflect Islam in the slightest.
Like the vast majority of Muslims, ElAwadi is "sad, frustrated, and mad that a crazy guy [claiming] to be a Muslim did that shameful act."
Muslim leaders in the U.S. were quick to condemn the motives behind the ISIS-inspired massacre. Nihad Awad, national executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said these extremists "do not belong to this beautiful faith."
2. Muslim Americans are just as devastated by this attack on our country as anyone else.
"I'm angry for what happened last night and all the innocent lives we lost," ElAwadi wrote. "Together we will stand against hate, terrorism, extremism and racism."
ElAwadi is not the exception. You don't have to look far to spot Muslims showing their support for the victims and rejecting the senseless violence.
3. America is at its greatest when all of us — regardless of skin color, religion, or sexual orientation — rally together to help those in need.
"I witnessed the greatness of this country watching thousands of people standing in 92 degree sun waiting on their turn to donate blood even after they were told that the wait time is 5-7 hours," ElAwadi wrote. He noted that people of all ages — including veterans and women wearing hijabs — pitched in to do their part.
As ElAwadi's post demonstrated so well, the more we stomp out hate and replace it with solidarity, the better off we'll all be.
"Our blood all [looks] the same," ElAwadi concluded. "Yes, our community in central Florida is heartbroken, but let's put our colors, religions, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political views all aside so we can unite against those who are trying to hurt us."
Seeing as love tends to conquer all, I'd say that's a pretty good plan.