Letter on the Events of September 11
Posted Aug 25, 2002

As Muslims, we join with the President of the United States, our fellow citizens, and the clergy of all faiths in condemning the despicable acts of terrorism committed against innocent people, and we grieve with those families and friends who lost loved ones. Moreover, we carry an extra burden because these acts were done in the name of our deen ul Islam.

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Asalaam aleikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatuh, dear friends:

As Muslims, we join with the President of the United States, our fellow citizens, and the clergy of all faiths in condemning the despicable acts of terrorism committed against innocent people, and we grieve with those families and friends who lost loved ones. Moreover, we carry an extra burden because these acts were done in the name of our deen ul Islam.

In the past year, millions of other Americans have heard again and again what we have always known to be true and what we affirm in our prayers:  that real Islam means peace; it opposes corruption, terror, and acts based on anger or hate; it stands for security, reconciliation, and love for all of Allah’s creation.  We know that the vast majority of Muslims the world over have long directed their efforts and their du`aas towards encouraging the true understanding of Islam, grounded in the Compassion and the Mercy of Allah (swt).  We have strived to exemplify tolerance, respect for the sanctity of life, faith, service, fairness, and understanding, in keeping with Allah’s guidance:

We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you might come to know one another [not that you may despise each other].  Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you (Qur’an 49:13).

Unfortunately, there are elements within the Muslim community whose character, words, and actions betray the truth of Islam and cast a dark shadow over the lives of sincere, compassionate, and peaceful Muslims.  One wonders at the blindness of such misguided people, that they cannot see or hear the clear statements in the Qur’an and hadith.  But then, as Allah (swt) said, there are those who “have hearts that do not understand, and eyes that do not see, and ears that do not hear…” (Qur’an 7:179).

September 11, 2001 graphically illustrates the dangers of ignorance and decades of poverty and war, as well as the potential of ideological manipulation of educated “Muslims.”  It demonstrates the devastation that can result when misguided individuals distort the Shari`ah and Sunnah under the guise of education or promises of retribution.  It also underscores the tragic outcomes that emerge when sincere Muslims or members of any group are intimidated, and become unable or unwilling to speak out against extremists.

Allah (swt) states:

Let there arise from you a community, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity (Qur’an 3:104).

To fulfill this mandate, Muslims who seek the blessing of being among the mu’minoon must take responsibility and control back from those who attempt to lead astray.  We must actively observe the advice given by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he said:

Beware of excessiveness in religion, for those before you perished as a result of such excessiveness.

We must educate in ways that foster awareness of the subtleties of Islam, enabling current and future generations of Muslims to recognize the positive role that they can play in addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century C.E.  Our youth, in particular, can and must be powerful forces for good.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated:

Opponents to me are all those who offend a dhimmi [Jew, Christian, or follower of another revealed faith]; and such to whom I am now an opponent will also be my opponents on the Day of Judgement.

Even when polytheists were persecuting the Muslims in Mecca, Allah (swt) said:

Remain, then, patient in adversity, just as all of the apostles, endowed with firmness of heart, bore themselves with patience.  Bear up with patience and do not seek to hasten for those [who are bent on denying the truth] their doom.  (Qur’an 46:35).

And the Prophet (peace be upon him) further observed:

The strong [person] is not the one who overcomes people by his strength, but the one who controls himself when he is angry.

Those who recognize the insidious distortions of the extreme voices within the Muslim community must stand together, point out the right from the wrong, and rid this country and Islam throughout the world of the dark forces that taint every one of us, causing pain and misery.  It is time that we demand that the speakers of lies and distortions step down from the minbars and listen to the Truth until they realize the error of their ways, renounce their past wrongs, and seek Allah’s forgiveness, as each of us is guided to do:

O believers! Turn to Allah in sincere repentance.  It may well be that your Lord will remove from you your sins… (Qur’an 66:8).

The September hijackings caused the tragic deaths of many fathers, mothers, children, public servants, brothers and sisters of all religions and races.  But even earlier, a series of hijackings were being carried out:  hijackings that went virtually unnoticed by the average American non-Muslim, and were passively accepted by most Muslims in North America and abroad.  These incidents involved not planes, but Islam itself, as well-financed, extremist cultists commandeered moderate Muslim communities in the name of Islam.  In Masajid and madrassas worldwide these modern Kharijites have tried to incubate an extreme view of Islam; unfortunately, they have achieved success too often.

Their ardent followers are few compared to the billion plus Muslims who strive to live according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah:  peacefully, compassionately, promoting tolerance, patience, love, and commitment to all life and all living things.  Yet, the zealots have been allowed to preach and disseminate their unacceptable views, especially in impoverished areas of the world and among disenfranchised students.  Narrow national and global interests, and the prejudices they breed, have added oil to the fire.  Short-sighted political goals and shallow relationships that focus no material gain while ignoring philosophical, social, and theological concerns have created a macabre dance with the devil.

One whom Allah guides, that one alone has found the right way; whereas for one whom He lets go astray, you will find no protector to lead him to the right way (Qur’an 18:17).

We can accomplish much by working with our brothers and sisters, both Muslim and non-Muslim:  by expressing values of love and compassion, not anger; by building understanding; by exhibiting patience along with resolve and perseverance.  We all have a great stake in how Islam is perceived and practiced in the coming days and years.

Insha’Llah, Allah (swt) will give us the strength to win back Islam from the hands of the misguided and evil doers and build stronger relationships among the brothers and sisters of our Muslim community and with our fellow citizens (many of whom have reached out in friendship and sincerity toward Muslims).  Insha’Llah, Allah (swt) will assist us in extending ourselves in love, friendship, and example to those outside of Islam, for Allah (swt) tells us:

Those who believe, and those who follow the Jewish [Scriptures], and the Christians, and the Sabaeans—whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right—surely their reward is with their Lord; no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve (Qur’an 2:62).

I promise you:  if Allah (swt) permits, we will continue to apply our more than twenty years’ experience in international and multicultural projects to ongoing efforts in education, leadership development, the building of mutual respect, and service.  The struggle for real justice, real peace, real love, and real compassion will not be easy.  But Allah (swt) assures us:

...those who struggle hard for Us, We shall certainly guide to Our paths, and Allah is definitely with those who do right (Qur’an 29:69).

Surely Allah is with those who are patient, and most certainly We shall try you by means of danger and hunger and loss of worldly goods and lives and labor’s fruits.  But give good tidings to those who endure patiently (Qur’an 2:155).

Please remember us in your prayers and du`a, as we remember you and your family in ours.

Your brother and servant of the Merciful and Compassionate,

Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid www.circlegroup.org