Muslim Reactions to September 11th and Terrorism
by Sheila Musaji
WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE OF AMERICAN MUSLIMS TO SEPTEMBER 11th? — STATEMENTS BY AMERICAN MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS
American Muslim organizations, and individual scholars and leaders, as well as International Muslim organizations, scholars and representatives of countries with a Muslim majority jointly and individually condemned the 9/11 attacks. Here is a partial list:
The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), made up of the nation’s four most prominent Muslim political advocacy groups - American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Council (AMC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
- called on all faith communities to participate in a national “Day of Unity Observance” by opening houses of worship on September 11, 2002, for interfaith visits, prayers, congregational exchanges, and other activities intended to foster national unity and religious tolerance. SEE: http://www.cair-net.org/dayofunity/ A joint AMPCC statement issued July 23 read in part: “It is imperative that all Americans come together on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks to show that we are united as a nation and to reject efforts by any parties, whether overseas or within our borders, to divide the United States along religious or ethnic lines. The Muslim community is part of this country, and we join our fellow citizens in mourning those who were killed or injured on that fateful day.”
An AMPCC statement issued within hours of the incidents stated:
“American Muslims utterly condemn what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
took out a full page ad in the Washington Post the Sunday following the attacks stating its condemnation of the events of 9/11 and sending condolences to the victims and their families. It might help to put this in perspective to first look at just some of the statements made immediately after the September 11th tragedy.
The American Muslim (TAM) issued the following statement:
STATEMENT ON THE TRAGEDY OF SEPTEMBER 11. We are Americans and Muslims and proud to be both. We are as shocked and horrified by this insane act of terrorists as any other Americans. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. We also want those responsible to be caught and brought to justice. They may happen to consider themselves Muslims (as Timothy McVey and Slobodon Milosovic may have considered themselves to be Christians) and may even have twisted the teachings of their religion to justify their actions, but terrorism is not the act of any person who understands anything about the teachings of any of the world’s religions. There is no religious justification for such actions.
All Americans of faith need to stand together. Now is a time for dialogue. Ignorance and misunderstanding feed hostility and distrust. Only dialogue can open the possibility for mutual respect and cooperation.
The reactions of some of our fellow Americans are frightening. We are hearing reports from across the country of attacks on mosques, and threats and assaults on individuals. Many mosques and Islamic schools are closed. Not only Muslim’s but also Arab Christians and even Sikhs, Hindus or simply dark skinned people or people wearing ethnic dress have been assaulted because the perpetrators thought they might be Arabs or Muslims.
The mentality that creates terrorists is found among disturbed individuals no matter what their religion or nationality. We have seen the face of evil before - the KKK lynching a black person and burning a cross and singing Christian hymns while doing it or blowing up a church and killing little children in God’s name - the horrible atrocities carried out in Bosnia where Muslim women were raped, people burned alive and tortured in God’s name - the Protestant mob a few weeks ago threatening and screaming obscenities at little Catholic girls trying to go to school and only being restrained from physically harming them by massive police protection in God’s name - Muslims in a mosque in Jerusalem shot down by a Jewish extremist in God’s name - IRA car bombings in London - Palestinians bombing buses carrying civilians - the list goes on and on from around the world - terrorism is used by those who feel powerless against those they see as responsible for whatever political, economic or other grievance they have. Christians, Muslims and Jews all must feel shame for the acts of those who take the name of God in vain in the most terrible way.
Anger against this terrible terrorist act is to be expected, but let us be careful as to where we direct that anger. Fanatics and madmen are not models of the societies that they hail from, nor the religions that they claim. We live in a world that has very real problems that need solutions, but the solution cannot be to blindly attack anyone who happens to be a member of a particular religion, race or nationality. If we do that then we become the same as them.
All of us must be vigilant and courageous in speaking out against hatred, intolerance, bigotry, stereotyping and injustice wherever we encounter them, especially among those who share our religious beliefs.
We have seen enough slaughter, genocide, massacre, revenge, ethnic cleansing and bloodshed - it is time to stand up and be counted among those who stand for good and not to tolerate evil.
We pray that religious freedom and tolerance will not be a collateral victim of this terrible tragedy. We owe it to those who died on Tuesday to build a better world in their name and truly in God’s name.
Council on American Islamic Relations:
We condemn in the strongest terms possible what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.
All members of the Muslim community are asked to offer whatever help they can to the victims and their families. Muslim medical professionals should go to the scenes of the attacks to offer aid and comfort to the victims. Muslim relief agencies should contact their counterparts to offer support in the recovery efforts. Individual Muslims should donate blood by contacting the local office of the Red Cross. They should also send donations to those relief agencies that are on the scene of the attacks.
We further call on media professionals to exercise restraint and not draw premature conclusions as to who was responsible for the apparent attacks.”
Islamic Circle of North America
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is extremely horrified and saddened by the tragedy in New York and Washington D.C. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this horrible and despicable crime. We condemn this heinous act and call upon our political leaders and the media to act responsibly, and not generalize when speculating about the perpetrators. Islam does not permit such unjust actions. Muslims are not terrorists and we condemn any terrorist attack against all people.
There were several hundred Muslims working in the World Trade Center. And, a large number of Muslims used to offer Friday prayer in the World Trade Center. There are many Muslims, who are still among the missing.
We appreciate and thank President Bush for acknowledging that American Muslims and Arab American are also saddened by this terrorist attack and by making it clear that any hate crime against Muslims will not be tolerated.
Our hearts are with those who have lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy and our prayers are with the departed souls.
The Islamic Circle of North America declares Friday, September 12, 2001, a day of mourning and prayers. All Muslims are requested to make special prayers for the dead and the injured and also for the suffering families.
Joint Statement by American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers, Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of North America, Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Society, Muslim Public Affairs Council
American Muslims utterly condemn what are vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.
Joint Statement by Muslim American Society (MAS), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), Muslim Student Association (MSA), Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), Solidarity International, American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice (AMGPJ), American Muslim Alliance (AMA), United Muslim Americans Association (UMAA), Islamic Media Foundation (IMF), American Muslim Foundation (AMF), Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO), American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) :
We reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of the crime committed on September 11, 2001 and join our fellow Americans in mourning the loss of up to 6000 innocent civilians. (October 22, 2001, http://www.icna.org/wtc_pr.htm
Muslims Against Terrorism (MAT):
As Muslims, we condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Ours is a religion of peace. We are sick and tired of extremists dictating the public face of Islam. ( http://www.muslimsagainstterrorism.org/aboutus.html )
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) Statement Against Terrorism
statement and list of signatories at http://theamericanmuslim.org/2002sept_comments.php?id=132_0_14_0_C
STATEMENT REJECTING TERRORISM As American Muslims and scholars of Islam, we wish to restate our conviction that peace and justice constitute the basic principles of the Muslim faith. We wish again to state unequivocally that neither the al-Qaeda organization nor Usama bin Laden represents Islam or reflects Muslim beliefs and practice. Rather, groups like al-Qaeda have misused and abused Islam in order to fit their own radical and indeed anti-Islamic agenda. Usama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s actions are criminal, misguided and counter to the true teachings of Islam. We call on people of all faiths not to judge Islam by the actions of a few.
We believe in justice and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. We are convinced that security for Israel can only be achieved by justice for Palestinians. Today, a modicum of justice requires the establishment of an independent Palestinian state through the exercise of Palestinian self-determination. We believe that the continued occupation of Palestinian territories, and Israel’s repeated disregard of international law, have made life in the occupied territories unbearable. We say most clearly, however, that the killing of innocent civilians, whether Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, is always wrong and is forbidden in Islamic law and ethics. Illegitimate means can never be justified by a desirable or noble goal.
On this first anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, we call on all people of conscience to denounce violence and to work peacefully for the creation of a better world. We also urge our government leaders to work for peace, justice, liberty, and democracy around the globe.
STATEMENTS BY INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS
Mustafa Mashhur, General Guide, Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt; Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Pakistan; Muti Rahman Nizami, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, Bangladesh; Shaykh Ahmad Yassin, Founder, Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), Palestine; Rashid Ghannoushi, President, Nahda Renaissance Movement, Tunisia; Fazil Nour, President, PAS - Parti Islam SeMalaysia, Malaysia; and 40 other Muslim scholars and politicians:
The undersigned, leaders of Islamic movements, are horrified by the events of Tuesday 11 September 2001 in the United States which resulted in massive killing, destruction and attack on innocent lives. We express our deepest sympathies and sorrow. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the incidents, which are against all human and Islamic norms. This is grounded in the Noble Laws of Islam which forbid all forms of attacks on innocents. God Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: ‘No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another’ (Surah al-Isra 17:15). (MSANews, September 14, 2001, http://msanews.mynet.net/MSANEWS/200109/20010917.15.html
Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt:
[We] strongly condemn such activities that are against all humanist and Islamic morals. ... [We] condemn and oppose all aggression on human life, freedom and dignity anywhere in the world. (Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 13 - 19 September 2001, http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/551/fo2.htm )
Federation of Islamic Organizations of New Zealand
On behalf of the Muslim community of New Zealand, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand Inc. (F.I.A.N.Z.) we would like to express our total condemnation of the recent Terrorist attacks in the USA on the American people, the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The New Zealand Muslim community categorically repudiates these cowardly and viscious assaults on civilians. We offer our deepest condolences to the families whose near and dear ones have been killed or injured in this barbaric incident.
This despicable incident is an unacceptable outrage, regardless of who is ultimately held to be responsible, and we condemn it as fundamentally un-Islamic and against all the principles of our holy faith. We pray God to have mercy on the souls of the murder victims and to punish all evildoers who perpetuate and support such an act of Terrorism. http://www.angelfire.com/biz2/FIANZWEB16/PressRelease1.html
Shaykh Muhammad bin Abdallah al-Sabil, member of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, Saudi Arabia
ѓAny attack on innocent people is unlawful and contrary to shari’a (Islamic law). ... Muslims must safeguard the lives, honor and property of Christians and Jews. Attacking them contradicts shari’a. Agence France Presse, December 4, 2001
Organization of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers:
The Conference strongly condemned the brutal terror acts that befell the United States, caused huge losses in human lives from various nationalities and wreaked tremendous destruction and damage in New York and Washington. It further reaffirmed that these terror acts ran counter to the teachings of the divine religions as well as ethical and human values, stressed the necessity of tracking down the perpetrators of these acts in the light of the results of investigations and bringing them to justice to inflict on them the penalty they deserve, and underscored its support of this effort. In this respect, the Conference expressed its condolences to and sympathy with the people and government of the United States and the families of the victims in these mournful and tragic circumstances. (Final Communique of the Ninth Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, October 10, 2001, http://www.oic-oci.org/english/fm/All%20Download/frmex9.htm )
Canadian Society of Muslims:
We condemn in the strongest terms possible what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Canadians in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts. (September 12, 2001, http://muslim-canada.org/news09112001.html
STATEMENTS BY INDIVIDUAL MUSLIM SCHOLARS AND LEADERS
Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Qatar; Tariq Bishri, Egypt; Muhammad S. Awwa, Egypt; Fahmi Huwaydi, Egypt; Haytham Khayyat, Syria; Shaykh Taha Jabir al-Alwani, U.S.:
All Muslims ought to be united against all those who terrorize the innocents, and those who permit the killing of non-combatants without a justifiable reason. Islam has declared the spilling of blood and the destruction of property as absolute prohibitions until the Day of Judgment. ... [It is] necessary to apprehend the true perpetrators of these crimes, as well as those who aid and abet them through incitement, financing or other support. They must be brought to justice in an impartial court of law and [punished] appropriately. ... [It is] a duty of Muslims to participate in this effort with all possible means. (The Washington Post, October 11, 2001, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40545-2001Oct10.html )
Shaykh Muhammed Sayyid al-Tantawi, imam of al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt:
Attacking innocent people is not courageous, it is stupid and will be punished on the day of judgement. ... It is not courageous to attack innocent children, women and civilians. It is courageous to protect freedom, it is courageous to defend oneself and not to attack. (Agence France Presse, September 14, 2001)
Abdel-Mo’tei Bayyoumi, al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy, Cairo, Egypt
ԓThere is no terrorism or a threat to civilians in jihad [religious struggle]. Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 20 - 26 September 2001, http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/552/p4fall3.htm
Shaykh Rached Ghannouchi, chairman of Tunisia’s an-Nahda Movement, in exile in London, England
ԓSuch destruction can only be condemned by any Muslim, however resentful one may be of America’s biased policies supporting occupation in Palestine, as an unacceptable attack on thousands of innocent people having no relation to American policies. Anyone familiar with Islam has no doubt about its rejection of collective punishment, based on the well-known Quranic principle that ‘no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another.’ The Washington Post, October 13, 2001, p. B9
Abdulaziz bin Abdallah Al-Ashaykh, chief mufti of Saudi Arabia:
Firstly: the recent developments in the United States including hijacking planes, terrorizing innocent people and shedding blood, constitute a form of injustice that cannot be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts. Secondly: any Muslim who is aware of the teachings of his religion and who adheres to the directives of the Holy Qur’an and the sunnah (the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad) will never involve himself in such acts, because they will invoke the anger of God Almighty and lead to harm and corruption on earth. ( http://saudiembassy.net/press_release/01-spa/09-15-Islam.htm )
Abdulaziz Sachedina, professor of religious studies, University of Virginia
ԓNew York was grieving. Sorrow covered the horizons. The pain of separation and of missing family members, neighbors, citizens, humans could be felt in every corner of the country. That day was my personal day of jihadӔ (struggleӔ) - jihad with my pride and my identity as a Muslim. This is the true meaning of jihad ֓struggle with ones own ego and false pride.Ҕ I dont ever recall that I had prayed so earnestly to God to spare attribution of such madness that was unleashed upon New York and Washington to the Muslims. I felt the pain and, perhaps for the first time in my entire life, I felt embarrassed at the thought that it could very well be my fellow Muslims who had committed this horrendous act of terrorism. How could these terrorists invoke GodҒs mercifulness and compassion when they had, through their evil act, put to shame the entire history of this great religion and its culture of toleration? ԓWhere Was God on September 11?,” http://www.virginia.edu/~soasia/newsletter/Fall01/God.html
Shaykh Omar Bakri, leader of al-Muhajirun, a radical Islamist movement based in London, England
If Islamists did it—and most likely it is Islamists, because of the nature of what happened—then they have fully misunderstood the teachings of Islam. ... Even the most radical of us have condemned this. I am always considered to be a radical in the Islamic world and even I condemn it.Ӕ The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), September 13, 2001, p. B6
Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Qatar:
Our hearts bleed for the attacks that has targeted the World Trade Center [WTC], as well as other institutions in the United States despite our strong oppositions to the American biased policy towards Israel on the military, political and economic fronts. Islam, the religion of tolerance, holds the human soul in high esteem, and considers the attack against innocent human beings a grave sin, this is backed by the Qur’anic verse which reads: ’‘Who so ever kills a human being [as punishment] for [crimes] other than manslaughter or [sowing] corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind’’ (Al-Ma’‘idah:32). (http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2001-09/13/article25.shtml)
Dr. Agha Saeed, National Chair of the American Muslim Alliance
These attacks are against both divine and human laws and we condemn them in the strongest terms. The Muslim Americans join the nation in calling for swift apprehension and stiff punishment of the perpetrators, and offer our sympathies to the victims and their families.Ӕ http://www.amaweb.org/AMA%20Condemns.html
Khaled Abou El Fadl, Kuwaiti-Egyptian-American legal scholar:
It would be disingenuous to deny that the Qur’an and other Islamic sources offer possibilities of intolerant interpretation. Clearly these possibilities are exploited by the contemporary puritans and supremacists. But the text does not command such intolerant readings. Historically, Islamic civilization has displayed a remarkable ability to recognize possibilities of tolerance, and to act upon these possibilities.Ӕ Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Place of Tolerance in Islam: On Reading the Qur’an—and Misreading It,Ӕ Boston Review, December 2001/January 2002, http://bostonreview.mit.edu/BR26.6/elfadl.html
Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysian Islamic activist and former deputy prime minister
Never in Islam’s entire history has the action of so few of its followers caused the religion and its community of believers to be such an abomination in the eyes of others. Millions of Muslims who fled to North America and Europe to escape poverty and persecution at home have become the object of hatred and are now profiled as potential terrorists. And the nascent democratic movements in Muslim countries will regress for a few decades as ruling autocrats use their participation in the global war against terrorism to terrorize their critics and dissenters. This is what Mohammed Atta and his fellow terrorists and sponsors have done to Islam and its community worldwide by their murder of innocents at the World Trade Center in New York and the Defense Depart-ment in Washington. The attack must be condemned, and the condemnation must be without reservation.Ӕ Anwar Ibrahim, Growth of Democracy Is the Answer to Terrorism,Ӕ International Herald Tribune, October 11, 2001, http://www.iht.com/articles/35281.htm
Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i, supreme jurist-ruler of Iran:
Killing of people, in any place and with any kind of weapons, including atomic bombs, long-range missiles, biological or chemical weopons, passenger or war planes, carried out by any organization, country or individuals is condemned. ... It makes no difference whether such massacres happen in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Qana, Sabra, Shatila, Deir Yassin, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq or in New York and Washington. (Islamic Republic News Agency, September 16, 2001, http://www.irna.com/en/hphoto/010916000000.ehp.shtml )
Dr. S. Parvez Manzoor, Sweden
If these acts of terror indeed have been perpetrated by Muslim radicals or fundamentalists, they have reaped nothing but eternal damnation, shame and ignominy. For nothing, absolutely nothing, could remotely be advanced as an excuse for these barbaric acts. They represent a total negation of Islamic values, an utter disregard of our fiqhi tradition, and a slap in the face of the Ummah. They are in total contrast to what Islamic reason, compassion and faith stand for. Even from the more mundane criteria of common good, the maslaha of the jurists, these acts are treasonous and suicidal. Islamic faith has been so callously and casually sacrificed at the altar of politics, a home-grown politics of parochial causes, primeval passions, self-endorsing piety and messianic terror.Ӕ
Interview with the International Forum for Islamic Dialogue, London, http://www.islam21.net/pages/keyissues/key7-6.htm
Dr. Sayed G. Safavi, Iranian religious scholar and director of the Institute of Islamic Studies, London, England
ԓThe targeting of innocent persons cannot be allowed. Islam is against any form of terrorism, whether it be carried out by an individual, a group or a state. ... For Muslims to kill civilians unconnected with any attack on them is a crime. The principal law of Islam is: don’t attack civilians. This includes civilians of any faith, whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian. According to Islam, all people are the family of God. The target of religion is peace. Letter to the Editor, The Daily Telegraph, London, England, June 30, 2003, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/06/30/dt3001.xml
Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz, Head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs of Turkey:
Any human being, regardless of his ethnic and religious origin, will never think of carrying out such a violent, evil attack. Whatever its purpose is, this action cannot be justified and tolerated. (A Message on Ragaib Night and Terrorism, September 21, 2001, http://www.diyanet.gov.tr/duyurular/regaibing.htm )
Muqtedar Khan, assistant professor of political science, Adrian College, Michigan, U.S.
What happened on September 11th in New York and Washington DC will forever remain a horrible scar on the history of Islam and humanity. No matter how much we condemn it, and point to the Quran and the Sunnah to argue that Islam forbids the killing of innocent people, the fact remains that the perpetrators of this crime against humanity have indicated that their actions are sanctioned by Islamic values. The fact that even now several Muslim scholars and thousands of Muslims defend the accused is indicative that not all Muslims believe that the attacks are unIslamic. This is truly sad. ... If anywhere in your hearts there is any sympathy or understanding with those who committed this act, I invite you to ask yourself this question, would Muhammad (pbuh) sanction such an act? While encouraging Muslims to struggle against injustice (Al Quran 4:135), Allah also imposes strict rules of engagement. He says in unequivocal terms that to kill an innocent being is like killing entire humanity (Al Quran 5:32). He also encourages Muslims to forgive Jews and Christians if they have committed injustices against us (Al Quran 2:109, 3:159, 5:85).Ӕ
Memo to American Muslims,Ӕ October 5, 2001, http://www.ijtihad.org/memo.htm
Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar), Turkey:
Islam does not encourage any kind of terrorism; in fact, it denounces it. Those who use terrorism in the name of Islam, in fact, have no other faculty except ignorance and hatred. ( http://www.islamdenouncesterrorism.com )
Imam Tammam Adi Director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Eugene, Oregon
Our fanatics have been violating all these holy principles for many years. Our fanatics have started a war of words and bullets against Christians, Jews and everybody who disagrees with them. Our fanatics have twisted the Quran to justify a Crusade. Our fanatics are the enemies of Islam. Let’s condemn them clearly and distance ourselves from them.
Shaikh Muhammad Yusuf Islahi, U.S.:
The sudden barbaric attack on innocent citizens living in peace is extremely distressing and deplorable. Every gentle human heart goes out to the victims of this attack and as humans we are ashamed at the barbarism perpetrated by a few people. Islam, which is a religion of peace and tolerance, condemns this act and sees this is as a wounding scar on the face of humanity. I appeal to Muslims to strongly condemn this act, express unity with the victims’ relatives, donate blood, money and do whatever it takes to help the affected people. ( http://www.icna.org/wtc_islahi.htm )
Abdal-Hakim Murad, Britain:
Targeting civilians is a negation of every possible school of Sunni Islam. Suicide bombing is so foreign to the Qur’anic ethos that the Prophet Samson is entirely absent from our scriptures. (“The Hijackers Were Not Muslims After All: Recapturing Islam From the Terrorists,” http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/masud/ISLAM/ahm/recapturing.htm )
The horrific terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States were perpetrated by cult of fanatics who had self-mutilated their ears and tongues, and could only communicate with perceived opponents through carnage and devastation.Ӕ Address to the United Nations General Assembly, November 9, 2001, reported in The New York Times, November 10, 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/10/international/10KHAT.html
Hamza Yusuf, U.S.:
Religious zealots of any creed are defeated people who lash out in desperation, and they often do horrific things. And if these people [who committed murder on September 11] indeed are Arabs or Muslims, they’re obviously very sick people and I can’t even look at it in religious terms. It’s politics, tragic politics. There’s no Islamic justification for any of it. ... You can’t kill innocent people. There’s no Islamic declaration of war against the United States. I think every Muslim country except Afghanistan has an embassy in this country. And in Islam, a country where you have embassies is not considered a belligerent country. In Islam, the only wars that are permitted are between armies and they should engage on battlefields and engage nobly. The Prophet Muhammad said, “Do not kill women or children or non-combatants and do not kill old people or religious people,’’ and he mentioned priests, nuns and rabbis. And he said, “Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees and do not poison the wells of your enemies.’’ The Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet, say that no one can punish with fire except the lord of fire. It’s prohibited to burn anyone in Islam as a punishment. No one can grant these attackers any legitimacy. It was evil. (San Jose Mercury News, September 15, 2001, http://www0.mercurycenter.com/local/center/isl0916.htm )
Nuh Ha Mim Keller, U.S.:
Muslims have nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to hide, and should simply tell people what their scholars and religious leaders have always said: first, that the Wahhabi sect has nothing to do with orthodox Islam, for its lack of tolerance is a perversion of traditional values; and second, that killing civilians is wrong and immoral. (“Making the World Safe for Terrorism,” September 30, 2001, http://220.127.116.11/ISLAM/nuh/terrorism.htm )
Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Grand Islamic Scholar and Chairman of the Sunna and Sira Countil, Qatar, Judge Tariq al-Bishri, First Deputy President of the Council d’etat, Egypt, Dr. Muhammad s. al-Awa, Professor of Islamic Law and Shari’a, Egypt, Dr. Haytham al-Khayyat, Islamic scholar, Syria, Fahmi Houaydi, Islamic scholar, Syria, Shaykh Taha Jabir al-Alwani, Chairman, North America Fiqh Council:
The terrorists acts, from the perspective of Islamic law, constitute the crime of hirabah [waging war against society]. (September 27, 2001 - Fatwa)
Zaki Badawi, Britain:
Neither the law of Islam nor its ethical system justify such a crime. (Cited in Arab News, September 28, 2001)
Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, Pakistan:
It is wrong to kill innocent people. It is also wrong to praise those who kill innocent people. (Cited in the New York Times, September 28, 2001.)
King Abdullah II, Jordan:
What these people stand for is completely against all the principles that Arab Muslims believe in. (cited in the Middle East Times, September 28, 2001.)
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, U.S.:ISCA
We categorically condemn yesterday’s hijackings and attacks against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and all other targets. From coast to coast, we join our neighbors, co-workers and friends across ethnic, cultural and religious lines in mourning the devastating loss of precious life, which Islam holds as sacred. We pray for the thousands of innocent victims, for their families, for law enforcement and emergency workers, for stranded travelers, and for all whose confidence and security have been shaken. We pray that God’s Infinite Mercy reaches us all.We join the US Congress in declaring today a day of mourning and also call on the entire faith community of America to spend the day in prayer for the victims and their families who so tragically died. All of our centers across the world will observe three minutes of silence tonight at our sunset prayer. We stand with the administration and law enforcement agencies in support of discovering the persons responsible and bringing them to justice. We encourage whoever is able to donate generously both blood and money to local chapters of the Red Cross…ISCA has many times warned the nation to guard against the possibility of such actions and reiterates its condemnation of all terrorism, whether ideological, geographical, cultural or religious.” ( http://www.the-heart.net/11Sept2001.htm )
Mustafa Mashhur, General Guide, Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt; Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Pakistan; Muti Rahman Nizami, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, Bangladesh; Shaykh Ahmad Yassin, Founder, Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), Palestine; Rashid Ghannoushi, President, Nahda Renaissance Movement, Tunisia; Fazil Nour, President, PAS - Parti Islam SeMalaysia, Malaysia; and 40 other Muslim scholars and politicians
The undersigned, leaders of Islamic movements, are horrified by the events of Tuesday 11 September 2001 in the United States which resulted in massive killing, destruction and attack on innocent lives. We express our deepest sympathies and sorrow. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the incidents, which are against all human and Islamic norms. This is grounded in the Noble Laws of Islam which forbid all forms of attacks on innocents. God Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: ‘No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another’ (Surah al-Isra 17:15).Ӕ
MSANews, September 14, 2001, http://msanews.mynet.net/MSANEWS/200109/20010917.15.html;
Arabic original in al-Quds al-Arabi (London), September 14, 2001, p. 2,
Sheikh Muhammad Ali Al-Hanooti, Palestinian-American mufti and member of the North American Fiqh Council
The people who attacked the WTC and Pentagon and hijacked the forth plane that crashed in Pennsylvania are criminal who deserve the severest punishment as the Quran elaborates. They are murderers and terrorists. If there were any person who felt happy for that incident we would not be able to equate them with those criminals, but we can say no one with faith and ethics would accept anything of that murder and targeting of innocent people.Ӕ Sheikh Muhammad Ali Al-Hanooti, “Fatwa Session on Latest Tragic Events,” IslamOnline, September 20, 2001, http://www.islamonline.net/livefatwa/english/Browse.asp?hGuestID=pdwD2E
Other collections of Muslim statements against extremism and terrorism: — Charles Kurzman http://kurzman.unc.edu/islamic-statements-against-terrorism/ — Omid Safi http://groups.colgate.edu/aarislam/response.htm — Tim Lubin http://home.wlu.edu/~lubint/islamonWTC.htm — Al Muhajabah http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php — Religious Tolerance http://www.religioustolerance.org/reac_ter16.htm
Update July 2004 — CAIR NOT IN THE NAME OF ISLAM PETITION “The Not in the Name of IslamӔ petition states:
We, the undersigned, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror and murder in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also devastating the image of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and disassociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. Islam must not be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside both the boundaries of their faith and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.Ӕ
CAIRs petition drive comes following the videotaped beheading of an American civilian in Iraq that shocked television viewers worldwide.
ғWe hope this effort will demonstrate once and for all that Muslims in America and throughout the Islamic world reject violence committed in the name of Islam, said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. ԓPeople of all faiths must do whatever they can to help end the downward spiral of mutual hostility and hatred that is engulfing our world.
Please go to http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?SubPage=Petition1 and sign the online CAIR Petition.
The Islamic Perspective on Beheading
Statement of the Islamic Center of Southern California
The Islamic Center of Southern California condemns in the strongest possible terms the barbaric execution of Kim Sun-II by militants in Iraq. We consider the use of violence to achieve political purposes to be unacceptable, as well as a complete violation of Islamic principles which deem such behavior a major sin. Islamic law protects freedom of religion, and dignity of all people. Islam offer justice and protection for non-Muslims:“And if any of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God seeks thy protection, grant him protection; and thereupon convey him to a place where he can feel secure” Quran (9:6)
The taking of hostages is prohibited, as the Prophet Muhammad warned that hurting a person protected by Islamic principles is akin to hurting the Prophet himself. Islam clearly requires that adversaries be treated humanely and prohibits hostility against non-combatants. Anger cannot be valid justification for ignoring these most basic principles of our religion, as stated in the Qur’an Chapter 5, verse 6:“And never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice.”
Update 2005 - The Amman Message issued by 200 Islamic scholars from 50 countries at a conference in Amman, Jordan, and later endorsed by hundreds of other Islamic scholars and the Organization of the Islamic Conference included this statement: “Islam recognizes the noble station of [human] life, so there is to be no fighting against non-combatants, and no assault upon civilians and their properties, children at their mothers’ bosom, students in their schools, nor upon elderly men and women. Assault upon the life of a human being, be it murder, injury or threat, is an assault upon the right to life among all human beings. It is among the gravest of sins; for human life is the basis for the prosperity of humanity: Whoever kills a soul for other than slaying a soul or corruption upon the earth it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity, and whoever saves a life, it is as if has revived the whole of humanity. (5:32)”
There are so many statements that have been issued that it would be impossible to list them all. The TAM collection will be updated with further statements. You will find this logo on the front page of TAM, simply click on it for numerous collections including the following:
RESOURCES — Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism - Resources TAM collections of articles and references including:
- Part I Fatwas
- Part II Statements by Organizations
- Part III Statements and Articles by Individuals
- Part IV A Few Quotes
- Part V The Muslim Majority Who Don’t Get Publicity
- Selective Hearing of Muslim Voices Against Extremism
- Sunni Shia Resource - collection of articles
- Polls, statistics, and surveys relating to Islam and Muslims
- Resources for Responses to Islamophobia and Allegations Against Islam and Muslims
- Claim That All Terrorists are Muslims Ignores History collection of incidents and responses
- Islamophobia - Alarming Statements 1 - 2000 and before
- Islamophobia - Alarming Statements 2 - 2001-2005
- Islamophobia - Alarming Statements 3 - 2006-2007
- Mosques that have experienced vandalism or violent incidents
- Islamophobia - Incidents
AFTERWARD: Since September 11th there has been an alarming increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and an attempt to connect this crime to the tenets of the religion of Islam. Muslim extremists attempt to justify criminal activity by distorting the clear teachings of Islam, and anti-Muslim bigots listen to these extremists rather than to the voices of mainstream, traditional Muslims. These voices (on both sides) want a monologue and not a dialogue which can lead to mutual understanding and awareness of our common humanity.
The attempt to connect criminal activity with the religion of Islam has become the norm. In August of 2000, when 10 Muslims were killed in a terrorist attack in Germany it was reported in the press as the act of “right wing extremists”. In the same month there was a terrorist attack in the Philippines in which 18 people were killed and it was reported as the act of “Muslim Rebels”. This past week when Dr. Goldstein was apprehended before he could complete his alleged mission of bombing 50 mosques, he was never identified by his religious affiliation. This religious identification of the perpetrator of any criminal, deviant or violent act - only when the perpetrator is a Muslim is commonplace in the media. We are, however, not used to so many mainstream, “religious” clergy speaking so disrespectfully about the faith of others, at least not in America, in the past 50 years.
Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Pat Robertson, Rev. Franklin Graham , Rev. Jerry Vines, and Rev. Robert Morey whom I call the “five horsemen of the apocalypse” are among the most visible men of God who seem to be committed to either converting or destroying the Muslims. In their zeal to use scare tactics, mistranslations, misinterpretations of texts, and out of context quotes, and to repeat propaganda created during the Crusades to stir up the masses they play into the hands of those who preach the false doctrine of the inevitable “clash of civilizations” and seem intent on dividing us as Americans and as people of faith. The many Islamophobic statements by individuals such as these, who are regarded as leaders in their faith communities, will harm America’s image and interests worldwide and will serve to divide Americans at this time of national crisis.
Certainly tapes of hateful statements made by these Islamophobic individuals will be played over and over again around the world - just as the tape of the small group of extremist Palestinians rejoicing over 9-11 was played over and over again here in America - giving the false impression that these are expressions of the general attitude of Americans or the general attitude of Palestinians or of Muslims.
I cannot help but be concerned about the effect of such statements in forming the views of our government leaders towards Islam and Muslims when I remember that it was only a few months ago that Attorney General Ashcroft said: “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.” Since Ashcroft is the top law enforcement official responsible for administering policies that have a direct impact on Muslims his statements raise real concern. As the Executive Director of CAIR, Nihad Awad said: “It is hard to see how policies such as these, which after all are based on racial and religious profiling, can be administered in an unbiased manner given Mr. Ashcroft’s apparent hostility toward Islam.”
Responding to the statement made by the Rev. Jerry Vines at the Southern Baptist Convention, Hisham Sharif, a member of the St. Louis Muslim community stated the concerns of many Muslims very well: “These ill-advised remarks by someone who is supposed to be a spiritual and moral leader for millions of Americans only serve to further fuel the fire of ignorance, fear and hatred among people of all faith, not only in America but also all over this planet. Rev. Vines is telling all of his followers to regard Muslims as followers of a criminally deviant and dangerous false religion, and therefore to fear them, avoid them, isolate them, be suspicious of them, perhaps even eliminate them. ...”
How can any clergy person in America argue against religious pluralism in a country that was originally founded by people who were fleeing religious persecution, whose descendants guaranteed religious freedom as one of the fundamental principles of the Constitution of the United States, and whose new country was first officially recognized by the Muslim country of Morocco.
If these men of God want to find violence in a sacred text they need look no further than the Bible. If they want to claim the relative peacefulness of Christianity, then they must ignore much of the history of Christianity, including the Crusades during which Pope Urban promised Crusaders who died while killing Muslims remission of all their sins, which guaranteed them paradise. They should also not look too closely at the Inquisition, wars of religion, witch hunts, pogroms, slaughter of the Cathars, Albigenses and other “heretics”, and the relentless persecution of dissidents that led many to flee Europe to the new world for religious freedom.
The voices of hatred, prejudice and stereotyping of Islam and Muslims are not new - there is a thread in this society of such ignorant propaganda that goes back to the Crusades and a time when Islam presented a tremendous challenge to Christian Europe in terms of power, science and culture and when Europe reacted to this challenge with hate. Much of this hate is now gone and the West has become much more powerful than the Muslim world. But a general prejudice lingers and now and then it is reflected in the media, and makes it easier for many people to accept as true statements made to malign Islam and Muslims. In the world of the 21st century, however, these voices are surprising because of their lack of historical awareness. Most of the claims made against Islam and Muslims have been heard before over the centuries and have been disproved by serious historians and scholars. It seems, however, that there is still an element of our society just waiting for an opportunity to begin again this centuries old cycle of recrimination while completely ignoring the answers that have also been given for centuries. Today we face a great challenge, trying to improve the image of the United States in the Muslim world. That job isn’t made any easier when leading Christians denounce Islam.
The comments of Vines, Robertson, Graham, Falwell and Morey could not be more wrong nor come at a worse time. Hate speech against any faith by religious leaders of another faith, especially in the current climate of confusion and distrust may destroy the work of so many Muslims, Christians and Jews who have worked for years to encourage interfaith dialogue and understanding. As one of those people I feel as if a bridge of peace that has taken years to construct has been blown up - and the dynamite was words.
This anti-Muslim rhetoric is leading to an increase in incidents. MPAC Communications Director Sarah Eltantawi said of these recent trends, “There seems a disturbing ‘upping of the ante’ when it comes to socially-permissible generalizations to make against Muslims and Arabs. Hate filled, stereotypical and thoughtless statements can erode the tradition of civilized discourse in this country like a cancer, setting the stage for further breakdowns of civilized behavior. Normalizing terrible statements against Islam’s most revered prophet and calling for a complete severing of ties with all Muslims are sentiments completely at odds with a nation that prides itself on freedom, tolerance, and an educated populace. We must double our efforts to spread non-sensationalized, accurate information about the seven million Muslims that call this great nation home.”
Islam is a faith practiced by one out of five human beings on this planet, and it is the fastest growing religion in the United States. Most of the countries in which Islam is the majority religion are still recovering from the legacies of centuries of colonial and/or communist rule, and what was once a great civilization has become part of the third world - poor, uneducated, fragmented and powerless. Muslims believe and hope that they will recover and once again be a vibrant power. The current sad state of the Muslim world is not a result of the population being Muslim any more than the dark ages in Europe or the development of Communism, Nazism, Colonialism or Facism in predominately Christian countries was the result of the population being Christian.
Muslims who are citizens of countries in the first world are minorities in those countries. However, they are a growing minority that quickly becomes educated and produces individuals who are productive members of society. The Muslim community in the United States for example is one of the newer waves of immigrants and the second largest religious minority in the country. However, our educational level is higher than the average, our average income is higher than the average, Muslims were an important block in the 2000 elections, and already we have Muslims running for elected offices. I cannot help but think that this visible success of the Muslim community in America and its growing political awareness is the real reason for the increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric. Whatever the reasons or the personal agenda for such rhetoric - it is a real concern and it is increasingly widespread and appears to be an attempt marginalize the American Muslim community. What is needed now is for all of us within our own faith communities to speak out loudly and drown out the voices of extremism.
The most recent statements by the Rev. Franklin Graham are particularly surprising. He said that Muslims had not sufficiently apologized for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and that they should help compensate victims’ families… He further stated that: “The silence of the clerics around the world is frightening to me…How come they haven’t come to this country, how come they haven’t apologized to the American people, how come they haven’t reassured the American people that this is not true Islam and that these people are not acting in the name of Allah, they’re not acting in the name of Islam?”
As a Muslim this train of thought seems very hypocritical, especially coming from someone who should know better. If we take only one recent example (of many possible) - the slaughter of the Bosnian Muslims by individuals claiming a “Christian” rationale for the slaughter. There was a thundering silence from Christian clerics. In fact, I don’t believe I have seen any statement on the part of Rev. Graham condemning these atrocities. Certainly, no Christian organizations have stepped forward to offer reparations, and there has not been an exodus of Christian leaders to Bosnia to apologize.
Fanatics and extremists exist in every nation and religion - and that fanaticism is usually the result of other factors than the teachings of any of the religious traditions. Naziism and Fascism grew in the heart of Christian Europe - but to judge the entire Western civilization or Christianity as responsible for those aberrations because of which tens of millions died would be wrong. There is too often a difference between the ideals of our faiths and the actions of individuals, groups or even governments.
The scriptures of all religions contain passages that can be taken out of context and misinterpreted to justify or claim almost anything. In America there are individuals who used the same Bible to justify and to condemn slavery, to require and absolutely reject capital punishment, to allow and forbid abortion, to promote segregation and to speak for civil rights.
There are many injustices in the world - there have been many crimes against humanity. There have been many injustices right here in the U.S. carried out by individuals who attempted to explain the unexplainable by claiming a religious basis for them.
There are a billion and a half Muslims in the world living on every continent in numerous countries with different political systems, social problems and cultures. I am an American, and although I am also a Muslim, that does not mean that I am responsible for the actions of any individual on this planet who happens to be a Muslim. I can also not be expected to explain the actions of every individual or government that has a Muslim majority population any more than members of other faith traditions can be asked to do so.
I can do my small part to make the world a better place and to change what I can. I personally belong to numerous Muslim and interfaith peace and dialogue groups, service organizations, and community organizations. I am active in my mosque and local school district. All of the American Muslims that I know (including those who are immigrants) are law abiding, productive, loyal citizens who love this country and who are proud of their religion and their country. When we begin to stereotype each other and take the worst examples of the behavior of the “other” to exemplify what “all of them are like” we are going backwards in time to an age of barbarism.
May God guide us all to show tolerance and respect for all faiths as the Constitution guarantees, and the courage to speak for what is right especially against those who are divisive and deliberately distorting the truth for their own personal agenda.
Any acts of violence, injustice, harassment or prejudice carried out by any individual or group calling themselves followers of a religious tradition is wrong. No matter what religion they claim none of them speak in my name.
Originally published 8/25/2002