The Day they will appear before Allah, nothing about them will be hidden from Him. He will ask, “Who does all authority belong to on this Day? To Allah—the One, the Supreme! (Ghafir 40:16)
To learn that a trusted friend and community leader has been keeping tabs on you, your loved ones, or your community can lead to many emotions, including hurt, anger, betrayal, and confusion. [1] When a trusted leader in the community is found to be involved in spying on the community for a long period of time, then those feelings are amplified even further. 
Spying on the Muslim community is not a new phenomenon. Nearly one out of five American Muslims report experiencing government surveillance. [2] It is important to acknowledge the impact of repetitive traumatic stress on the individual and the community. 
When spying is carried out by an individual who works for an organization that advocates for the civil rights of American Muslims, then the trauma, stress, and shock is overwhelming and the damage can last a long time. This is what has happened in Ohio with the termination of CAIR-Ohio executive director after learning that he committed egregious ethical and professional violations. [3] The sections below offer a pathway for individuals and communities to consider as they process the recent events and begin the healing journey when they are ready.
Pathway for healing after a traumatic event:
Acknowledge the impact → Ground yourself spiritually & reframe → Channel your energy

Acknowledge the impact

Cognitive dissonance refers to the mental conflict we experience when a person’s behaviors don’t match their beliefs, which has an emotional impact and destructive effect on a community’s cohesion. [4] Events that are hard to make sense of can distance people from their faith, community, leadership, and institutions. In describing the impact of surveillance from law enforcement among the NYC Muslim community, Dr. Arshad Ali states, “The fabric of political mobilization had been ripped apart, and repair was not easy” [5]. The impact? People did not know who to trust anymore, and individuals who knew the betrayer felt shock, puzzlement, confusion, betrayal, hurt, and cautiousness. 
spying quote
To achieve healing, we need to unpack the implications of surveillance, acknowledge the impact and have the tools to process our situation. Each person may react in a different way to a traumatic or stressful incident in the community. The differences in everyone’s reactions are based on each person’s past experiences and ways of coping. 
You can begin to acknowledge the impact of the incident on you by identifying the physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms you may be experiencing. Here are some experiences you may be having: 
Then, process your emotions to make meaning of what’s going on for you. Make sure you acknowledge and accept your feelings, process your emotions, and channel your energy (see more on this below).   
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him) reminded us:
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, "if only I had done such and such" rather say "Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha'a fa'ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does)." For (saying) 'If' opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan. ” (Ibn Majah)

Ground yourself spiritually & reframe

While we may feel shaken, our faith can spiritually ground and guide us to re-frame the current situation to be resilient. Allah (The Most Glorified and Most High) reminds us that, 
Misfortunes can only happen with God’s permission––He will guide the heart of anyone who believes in Him: God knows all things (Al-Taghaabun 64:11)
Yes, this is hard for our community and us. We know that Allah (The Most Glorified and Most High) controls everything. If this happened, it was for a reason. 
Reflect on your past.  Think of a time when you initially thought something was awful, but it was better for you in the long run. It may be difficult to see the “big picture” right now. However, with time and new information, things may change. Ask yourself:
Remind yourself of Allah’s (The Most Glorified and Most High) promise, 
And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.” (Anfaal 8:30)
  • Put your trust in Allah (The Most Glorified and Most High).
  • Reflect on the names that are most meaningful for the emotions you are experiencing.
  • Acknowledge Allah (The Most Glorified and Most High) and allow His attributes to emotionally support you through this challenge.

Channel your energy

Spying has a chilling effect on our sense of safety as individuals and as a community, which is the intended impact. These tactics are meant to silence and disrupt communities and decrease community connections. Remember Allah’s promise,
Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. (Ra’ad 13:11)
We need to channel our energy and double up our efforts! We are not alone in these experiences and can find solidarity with others seeking equality and justice. Shaitan (Satan) breeds fear and wants us to be afraid of our fellow Muslims, neighbors, and anti-Muslim hate groups. However, Allah (The Most Glorified and Most High) reminds us. 

It is Satan who urges you to fear his followers; do not fear them, but fear Me, if you are true believers. (Al-Imran 3:175)

Do the opposite of what the anti-Muslim hate groups want. 
And remember the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessing of Allah Be Upon Him) 
Be mindful of God, and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Him, and you shall find Him at your side. If you ask, ask of God. If you need help, seek it from God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if God had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if God had written so. The pens have been lifted, and the pages are dry (Tirmidhi)
Content Creators: Sameera Ahmed, PhD, Hanan Hashem, MA, Sondos Al Sad, MD, Ayaz Hyder, PhD, and Madiha Tahseen, PhD
  1. The term “institutional betrayal” is often used to describe these feelings when a violation of trust takes place between a community and the leaders they trust. (Smith, C. P., & Freyd, J. J. (2014). Institutional betrayal. American Psychologist, 69(6), 575.)
  2. O’Connor, A. J., & Jahan, F. (2014). Under surveillance and overwrought: American Muslims’ emotional and behavioral responses to government surveillance. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 8(1).
  4. Takaku, S. (2001). The effects of apology and perspective taking on interpersonal forgiveness: A dissonance-attribution model of interpersonal forgiveness. The Journal of Social Psychology, 141, 494–508.
  5. Ali, A. I. (2016). Citizens under suspicion: Responsive research with community under surveillance. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 47(1), 78-95.
Disbelief, Trauma, & Betrayal: 3 Tips To Healing