AS ADULTS, WE want to protect our children from the harms of the world.

But, more than just to desire it, we all have a right to feel safe – both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Children need to feel safe in their home, their bedroom…in their backyard.

Unfortunately, we have really begun to lose that feeling of safety – everywhere around the world. We have become overprotecting of our children, sometimes to the point of paranoia.

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But not for no reason; we do have our reasons. It is because there is so much evil in the world – you hear about murder, abductions, rapes, burglary, vandalism and terror.

I live in a quiet neighborhood. It is 4 AM in the morning and I am awake right at this moment – sadly, not for an early morning prayer – but because I heard gun shots and saw a car driving around on our normally ultra-quiet street.

The car circled our street and through the back alley-way at least 6 times in 30 minutes (at least that is what I witnessed). I heard three shots ring out before I saw the car the first time…. then, in-between peeks out the window, a fourth later on.

Although I called 9-1-1, and they are sending a squad car over to check it out, and I am in a home with multiple alarm systems in place, I still feel scared. The last time I saw the suspicious car, it stopped in front of my house – in front of the window I was peeking out of. Needless to say, it did not make me feel much better…. but it did make me move away from the window and find my way to my computer.

My husband just happens to be working a graveyard shift tonight of all nights, which is quite an unusual circumstance—to fill in for a co-worker brother who just left on vacation time to go on Hajj. After speaking on the phone with my husband, it did help to calm my nerves, but I am here alone with my daughter.

And thanks to my cat, who seems to push open each door I just closed and make every weird noise on the face of the earth, I have had more than enough adrenalin pumping this morning to make up for the exercise that will be lost tomorrow when I am getting a couple of hours of Zzzz’s needed for me to function.

I am thankful that this episode I went through tonight was a very rare occurrence. We all have a right to feel safe, especially in our own homes. Not feeling comfortable enough to sleep in your own home is a tragedy. Home is supposed to be our comfort zone – a place to relax and reflect. More importantly, we have an obligation to our children to provide a safe and healthy environment for them to grow up and live.

Some kids, even in the United States, grow up in areas where gun shots are a normal, everyday occurrence – as if the crickets were chirping: Pop! Pop! “Hey, hear that? There goes another one.”

The fact is: Murder is what it is. Although Hollywood has done a great job to glam it up, but the real deal is no James Bond flick. It is hateful, horrible and downright heartbreaking. Car chases in real life are not cool; they hurt innocent people. Burglaries on the big screen are portrayed as slippery slick and the ultimate cool way to make a fast buck…whereas in real life, real people get hurt. It is so strange, that if you think about most movies, the plot almost always sways you to root for the good guys – who, in the real world, are the bad guys – the thieves or the mafia for example.

Get Angry

I must say, it is my inclination. I get mad. I get mad because no one has the right to take away my ability to keep my child safe.

I get mad because some people take advantage of people who are helpless, such as the young or the elderly. Recently, a widower woman was raped when she opened the door to a man asking for help. She was severely beaten and molested due to her kindness. Alhamdulillah, the man was arrested, because she was able to get up and call the police immediately after the incident.

So, the first step is for us to be a little angry at those who want to take away our safe and secure home environment. If you never get upset, or think it is something that cannot happen to you, then you will never take action and be pro-active toward prevention. Look at organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers); they have done a lot to help get laws passed against drunk drivers, thus making the roads safer for all of us.

Get Secure

The next step is to get your home environment secure. I have about as much security equipment as I possibly can on my home….and that is only because I know what it feels like when someone breaks in; it took only one incident to jolt me into reality.

Rather than taking your family out to eat once a month, invest in a security alarm system. Although nothing can provide certainty in these matters, it can ease your mind whenever you leave and return home. If your husband travels, it will help you sleep better at night.

Be a Part of the Neighborhood Watch

Yes, that is correct. That is exactly what I said: Join your local neighborhood watch. It helps you get to know your neighbors, your local policemen and women and can deter a lot of crime from occurring in your neighborhood.

It is something that you can do as a family from the comfort of your family car a few nights a week and the brownie points you will get from the local community will benefit your family immensely. In emergency situations, you want to know the people around you and you will want them to know you.

Know your Neighbors

Think about it. If your neighbors do not know you, how can they trust you? Without getting to know a little about you and your family, they will never have the opportunity to get to know your character—and vice versa. They will be left with only the usual stereo-typical theory.

Good neighborly relationships are vital to enjoying a safer home life and community environment for our families. It does not take lengthy visits or conversations to development these types of relationships – just a little sincere occasional effort.

Have some Backup

We need to learn to depend a little more on our relatives when we need help. If we go on vacation or if the husband is away on a trip, we need to ask them to look in on us and our home. They will do it because they care about us and we will feel better knowing someone is checking up on our family and our home.

Our homes are where we rest, sleep, eat and raise our children – if we do not take additional steps toward a safer home environment, no one will do it for us. But someone, possibly someone with bad intentions, eventually may find that out.

And I sincerely pray to Allah that none of you ever have to learn that the hard way.

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