Thoughts in the Wake of the Latest Terror Scare | Letter to my non-Muslim Neighbor

A letter to my neighbors & colleagues who don’t share my Islamic faith…

The events of 9/11 are ones that have forever changed the world we live in, but not always in ways that you might have imagined. For most regular Americans, it has brought uncomfortably close to home images that were once thought to only happen “over there” in some other country.

It has led to people being more scared of their neighbors, their co-workers and even their seat-mate on an airplane. It has resulted in terror alerts, airport security measures and even strange recommendations of buying lots of duct tape for your windows (still haven’t figured that one out yet). But for another segment of the population it has resulted in other types of dread and fear.

I’m writing this to you today because I want to share with you my feelings and my experiences, not because I want your sympathy or for you to write to Congress, but mainly because I don’t want you to be afraid of me. Because I want to let you inside my head for a brief moment to see things, maybe, from a different perspective.

For most Muslims in the US, the breaking news of a possible terrorist incident brings about an enormous feeling of dread. The dread of the fall-out from the “attack” that we are sure to feel in very personal ways. Mosques around the US get death threats, threatening vandalism and even shot at or burned down after these things happen. Moreover, people who look “Middle-Eastern” get physically attacked, and women who cover their hair with the Islamic head-cover (hijab) get no end of dirty looks, rude insults and their own share of threats.

Ever since 9/11, I am treated like a criminal every-time I return to the US from an overseas trip. Whether I have gone to Egypt to visit my extended family, to Pakistan to provide medical relief to earthquake victims or to Costa Rica to surf truly awesome waves, I am escorted by Border Patrol to a separate area of the airport. There, I am subjected to questioning about the details of my trip while my baggage, pockets and wallet are meticulously searched. I have had my credit cards, business cards and hospital ID’s taken from me and photocopied in a separate room because “its policy”. There is no such thing as invasion of privacy for people like me – I simply have to give them everything they want and be happy that I don’t get rendered to another facility. I have never committed a crime, but I am a Muslim.

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I, like many others, was born in this country. I chose to be a physician because I sincerely care about others. I chose to be an ER doctor because I don’t want to have to worry about someone’s ability to pay for medical care, and because it offers me the freedom to have a life away from the hospital. A life that I have chosen to use again in the service of humanity – whether it be by teaching religious morals, or by using my medical skills in a humanitarian crisis like Hurricane Katrina or the Pakistani Earthquake, or by doing my small part to raise educated, respectful and moral children for the future of America and the world.

I sincerely want you to know that my religion, Islam, does not encourage violence. In fact, it specifically speaks AGAINST the killing of innocent people. It encourages forgiveness and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, be they interpersonal or international. I hope that you have seen this trend in my character, even though I know I am far from perfect and have much to improve in myself.  I don’t have hate in my heart, even for those that have used their power to hurt others around them. I pray for justice for the people of our world, and I pray for peace as well.

I wish you could know how sorry I am that a small group of people have distorted all that is good in my religion by using it as a call for terror and bloodshed. I am sorry that these misguided people have caused harm to my fellow countrymen and women. I feel the same way that many of you might feel when you read about the atrocities committed against the Native Americans or the African Slaves by our ancestors in this country. The fact that Americans did these terrible things doesn’t take away from the good that America stands for. It just means that sometimes people can go very far astray from the principles they seek to represent. Nonetheless, I still feel sorry that these things are being done in the name of Islam and I wish that I could stop them from happening.

I know that no matter what I may say, there will still be those who will not like me because I have chosen, with my intellect and my heart, to follow Islam. This will not stop me though from extending my hand and my heart in friendship to those around me who need care. It will not stop me from trying my best to be a good citizen of America and the world. It will not stop me from working tirelessly to prevent those whom I can reach from turning to extremism. And it will not lead me to hate in return.

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38 responses to “Thoughts in the Wake of the Latest Terror Scare | Letter to my non-Muslim Neighbor”

  1. Rafa says:

    JazakAllah Khair for your thoughts. It is hard, living in the West after 9/11 and getting dirty looks wherever you go, like you’re not someone to be trusted. But I think if we keep up a strong, positive, and most importantly, peaceful attitude, Insha Allah things will get better.

    “And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship.”

    • Atif Mirza says:

      Why are you sorry? You have not done anything wrong. Moreover the so called terrorist threat might not necessarily be from muslims. It could just be a propoganda spread by the media. We need not tell anyone that Islam does not teach terrorism, everyone knows that. Keep your head high and face the situations with courage. May Allah help you and give you the courage to face the situations. Being apologetic will give the perception that we are weak.

      • Amad says:

        Atif, if your family member commits a crime that affects someone else, would you be sorry or not? Even if you had absolutely nothing to do with it?

        Conspiracy theories aside, Muslims are a big family. So, when someone other Muslim does something wrong, esp. in the name of Islam, it is natural to feel sorry for it. Sorry for the guy who misunderstood Islam, sorry for who he affected, sorry for the deen being misrepresented…

        Also, I suspect you are not from the States either? Not that is a bad thing, but as I mentioned before, there is a different perception on events (and America) in different parts of the globe.

      • Shoeb K says:

        It simply is unbelievable……

        We just refuse to believe the atrocities the so called brothers are making.. because we do not want to see faults in the so called brothers, just because they are Muslims..

        It is high time we criticize these, disassociate with these people, and be part of the world rather than the Islamic world .. There is only one world, we follow our beliefs in our own personal affairs, and disassociate with these criminals who are mingling religion, politics, country etc etc

        If we cannot live our neighbor, we do not have a right to be treated with any respect……

  2. PakistaniMD says:

    Very Good Article! Masha;;ah. Your strength is clear and I hope the message gets through. You definitely need to send this to the Washington Post as an Opinion Piece (the might print in the Outlook section…). I would love to show this to fellow MSA members in my school if it was in newspaper (I’ll show to them anyway!).

    • Ali Shehata says:

      Salaam alaikum

      Thank you for the positive feedback. I actually wrote it with the intention to make it both a letter to colleagues and friends as well as an opinion piece but not sure how to do it. let me know and I will submit it insha’Allah. I wanted to write it also so that maybe Muslims who were having a hard time coming up with the words, but otherwise wanted to express similar feelings to their colleagues, would have a sort of template to do the same. I hope it will be of service to those who read it – ameen.

  3. Abu Abdaen says:

    Dear Shaykh, Jazaakumullaahu khayran for this strong and positive piece.

    Can u pls explain this part of the message;

    I don’t have hate in my heart, even for those that have used their power to hurt others around them. I pray for justice for the people of our world, and I pray for peace as well”.

    Abu Abdaen

    • Ali Shehata says:

      Salaam alaikum Dear Abu Abdaen

      Jazak Allahu khayr for your comment, but please, I am not a Shaykh, just a regular brother. May Allah guide me and you to what is better – ameen. As for your question, from Tafsir Ibn Kathir, I would encourage to read regarding [3:128]:

      Muhammad bin Ishaq said that Allah’s statement,

      [لَيْسَ لَكَ مِنَ الاٌّمْرِ شَىْءٌ]

      (Not for you is the decision), means, “No part of the decision regarding My servants is yours, except what I command you.” Allah then mentions the rest of the consequences of Jihad,

      [أَوْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ]

      (whether He pardons them) [them – here it is referring to those who fought against the Prophet (saas) and the Companions in Uhud] – concerning the acts of disbelief that they commit, thus delivering them from misguidance to the guidance.

      [أَوْ يُعَذِّبَهُمْ]

      (or punishes them;) in this life and the Hereafter because of their disbelief and errors,

      [فَإِنَّهُمْ ظَـلِمُونَ]

      (verily, they are the wrongdoers), and thus, they deserve such a fate.

      Al-Bukhari recorded that, Salim bin `Abdullah said that his father said that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying — when he raised his head from bowing in the second rak’ah of the Fajr prayer — “O Allah! Curse so-and-so,” after saying; Sami` Allahu Liman Hamidah, Rabbana wa lakal-Hamd. Thereafter, Allah revealed this Ayah [3:128].

      So, to summarize – it is not for us or for the Prophet (saas) to curse or to have hate for anyone, since we do not know what the future holds. It might be that those people who now use their power to oppress and hurt others may someday become righteous and repentant believers whereas we might encounter a trial that – may Allah protect us all – lead us to disbelief. Indeed, Umar ibnul Khattab, Amr ibnal ‘Aas and Khalid ibnal Walid were all great disbelievers who fought hard against the believers and harmed them, yet Allah from His mercy guided them and now they are beacons of righteousness for us.

      And further, the Prophet (saas) is authentically narrated as having said, “O Allah forgive my people for they do not know.” Sahih – Albani [ اللهم اغفر لقومي فإنهم لا يعلمون ] And he narrated the same from one of the previous Prophets (saas) as narrated in Bukhari. And looking to the Qur’an, we see similar sentiments expressed by both Ibrahim and Isa (as), when they said to Allah that in regards to those who disobey Him, then they are the slaves of Allah and He is forgiving.

      So certainly, it pains me a great deal to see the oppressive practices that are so widespread around the world today, but rather than wishing for destruction and punishment, it is the Sunnah of our Prophet (saas) to wish for their guidance and the spread of peace.

      And Allah knows best.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I feel that sadly it is more than slightly apologetic akhi. Waffaqakallah wa iyyana.

    Even if Muslims do stupid things, it does not detract at all from our izzah. Sure, we can clarify in discrete ways – and even in more apparent ways if necessity arises – but to be apologetic or defensive ya akhi, is not behooving of us inshallah.

    Allah knows best

    Wassalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah

    • Ali Shehata says:

      Salaam alaikum

      I am really not sure where Izzah is an issue here. This is written to allow non-Muslims to understand that we, as Muslims, are human as well and that not only do these acts of terror affect them, but us as well and on three different levels: 1) that we are saddened by the loss of innocent life as was the Prophet (saas) when he saw a female that had been killed in a battle, 2) we are saddened by the hijacking of our deen by those who abuse it and 3) that we are personally abused and criminalized as a result of these incidents. As Izzah is to have a feeling of honor for our noble deen, I am not seeing the contradiction for us to also have sadness over the above. Had I written that these incidents have resulted in weakening my imaan or weakening my perception of the goodness of Islam, then you would have a point.

      Unfortunately, your position seems equivalent to those of some of the US leaders who didn’t want to apologize for atrocities to Native Americans, because that might not look good. I rather think it is part of the nobility of our deen that we separate the actions of some misguided people from the honorable principles which Islam stands upon. Wallahu al-musta’aan.

      • Hassen says:

        as-Salaamu Alaikum,

        I think overall this is an excellent letter, Dr. Shehata, jazak Allahu khair.

        I have to say, with the utmost respect, that I am slightly leaning towards the same feeling as the above response, with regards to your conclusion. I don’t know if individuals should feel obligated to apologize for the actions of other individuals. As individuals we have no relation to this guy, so I don’t see why we should apologize for his actions. He chose to use his free will in whatever way and he will have to answer to Allah for his actions- not any of us.

        I agree with you that this might be appropriate/required when applying to members of a representative body (“US leaders”) but I don’t see why individuals should bear the blame for his actions, and have to apologize for it.

        Wallahu a’lam

    • Ameera says:

      I felt the same way, particularly as I just read an article over at The Huffington Post website about how sexual abuse policies and crimes committed by American servicemen in Iraq are being covered up. It makes me feel as if, the softer we try to be, the more apologetic we sound… it only makes us appear helpless.

      I hope Brother Shehata that you won’t take this in a negative sense, especially since, as a medical student, I can relate very much to how you feel about the wrong that happens around us. I just felt, as an independent observer, while reading your piece, it sounded like we have to go on apologizing for every single wrong that a Muslim commits in America. Is that really effective?

      I don’t expect an American citizen to walk up to me and apologize for what Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan, but yes, I would like to hear him *acknowledge* that was done, was wrong. To me, there’s a difference in the two stances – it allows me to respect that American citizen while also learning that the American people are not all clones of Bush.

      Would you agree?

      • Amad says:

        It is interesting how different people in different parts of the world would see this letter. I can understand how non-Americans would not be very sympathetic to America in general and that reflects how we perceive this letter.

        That is why I think this letter is really only pertinent to Muslims living in the West, and perhaps even more so in the States. I don’t really think people outside can really feel how things are here… there are even huge differences between how Muslims from UK and Muslims from US think (and I say this after meeting quite a few Brit Muslims)… And that’s why I don’t think people should be that quick to judge this letter if they are not living this reality. Not saying you cannot or shouldn’t, but just be cautious.

        • Ameera says:

          Hehe, I knew I was going to hear this and really, it’s justified. I don’t live in America, never have, so I can’t really relate to this letter. And this is despite the fact that I’ve interacted with Non Muslim, white American citizens, thus being able to understand the difference between common people and hawkish elements in the government.

          Even so, I feel sad about common American Muslims having the need to “explain” themselves at every unfortunate terrorist incident. As I said, after that Huffington Post article, nothing felt right.

          On second thought though, this letter wasn’t all apologetic, and I can see Dr Shehata was aiming really for building bridges through acknowledging the wrong in an attempt to attack innocent people on an airplane. Who knows? Perhaps if I were living in the US, under similar circumstances, I’d be doing the same.

        • fatima_bintu_islam says:

          Why do I always have to find this statement in ur posts : ‘ Only those who live in America will understand, others hate America !”
          AKhi, if 99% of the world hates America, and Americans think America is fine who do you think is biased here?

          The letter was soo apologetic that I wasnt able to finish it, may Allah protect us from having humility to non-muslims. If your think that your fellow brothers made a mistake, why dont you put yourself in their situation ( as you did with the fellow non-muslim neighbour) and see how it looks from their angle. Because whatever mistake they did, it would not be the same as the mistake of your neighbour ( not adoring Allah azza wajjal) so see who is most hated by Allah and then do the same.

          May ALlah azza wajjal protect us from giving up on our brothers in Islam, ameen.

  5. Holly Garza says:

    Very well said! I shared with my non Muslim family, and co workers

  6. Farhan says:

    I remember walking back from lunch and while I passed by a TV screen with CNN one of “those stories” was on. I had no way to vent my anger, so I just stamped one foot on the ground and let out a “gosh!”

  7. MR says:

    AIDS and HIV kills more Americans than terrorism.

    Hunger kills more Americans than terrorism.

    In-efficient health care provisions for those who can’t afford it kills more Americans than terrorism.

    American needs to get their priorities straightened out.

    It’s easy to stop terrorism. Terrorism is a response to being terrorized. Stop the terrorizing and the terrorism will stop.

    • Amad says:

      I think this comparison doesn’t work. People don’t like AIDS and HIV… I don’t think we don’t want the word Muslims to appear in the same category.

      I do agree that the root-cause of terrorism needs to be tackled and that’s begins with Israel-Palestine resolution, stopping unjust wars, and stopping the new soft imperialism!

      • MR says:

        Well I wasn’t talking about Muslims or Islam. I was talking about terrorism.

      • Dan says:

        Amad:

        What about those that believe it is acceptable to kill because of how ‘immoral’ the West is? Surely you don’t believe terrorists who bomb night clubs, hotels, churches, temples and such do so out of foreign policy, do you?

        • Amad says:

          actually by all evidences (including polling– read the book by Dalia on what Muslims believe), the vast majority is politically motivated and a desire to get revenge. Most Muslims actually don’t care for the immorality of the West because that is its West’s own problems. If they left Muslims alone, who cares. And most Muslims aren’t jealous of the West either (as some “wise” commentators continue to suggest)– one of the most stupid arguments one can find.

          and let me stop you right here, Dan. You are not going to hijack this thread with your trollish comments.

          Sorry but I will mod you.

  8. Sincerity says:

    That was very well written, m’A.

  9. muslim says:

    asalamualaykum
    dr.ali sheta
    you said ” I am escorted by Border Patrol to a separate area of the airport. There, I am subjected to questioning about the details of my trip while my baggage, pockets and wallet are meticulously searched. I have had my credit cards, business cards and hospital ID’s taken from me and photocopied in a separate room because “its policy”. There is no such thing as invasion of privacy for people like me – I simply have to give them everything they want and be happy that I don’t get rendered to another facility. I have never committed a crime, but I am a Muslim.” dont the athorites have to have a warrent for that type of search?

    • Amad says:

      You don’t need any warrants for doing pretty much anything to someone before they “officially” enter USA. Muslims are the MOST vulnerable at this stage because technically until you pass immigration, you are NOT in the States, so you don’t have the rights of a citizen. Furthermore, you can’t call an attorney or anyone really… too much power in the hands of these customs folks.

      • Ameera says:

        =(

        Makes you miss the 90s, in other words, pre 9/11 times. People used to worry about meteors and such striking the earth! And the famous Y2K bug!

        May Allah(swt) make it easy upon Muslims across the world, wherever they may be!

  10. Stranger says:

    Mashallah great letter. Jazakallah khayr for sharing it. I don’t think it is apologetic at all as the writer is not apologozing per say; he is simply explaining where he comes from as a Muslim neighbor. I guess it depends on how you read it which largely depends on your perspective based on where you live in the world. Jazakallah khayr.

  11. Baasel says:

    Asalamu alaykum my respected Brother, Ali Shehata.

    It was an interesting article which attempts to allow non-Muslims to empahtise with what we Muslim go through here in North America. However, the route, the long-term solution to preventing incidents like this is to educate Americans on their own foreign policy.

    The United States of America has one of the most brutal foreign policies history has ever seen. The American Empire is maintained by countless U.S. military bases spread across the gulf – a reality that stood even before September 11th, 2001. A global bully, the U.S. enjoys interfering in everyone else’s politics, even though nobody interfered in the American Civil War which left 600,000 dead. What klnd of response should the U.S. expect when it manages to keep the American public oblivious and desensitized to the hundreds of thousands it has killed in Iraq??? Only when confronted, the U.S. accepts responsibility for Afghan casualties by merely describing them as “unfortunate.” Any resistance to the U.S. occupation is categorically over-generalized and strategically linked to foreign entities that have been heavily demonized in the minds of the public. Moreover, the U.S. justifies its actions by highlighting the faults of others. Abusing its UN veto power, the U.S. supplies financial, military, and constitutional support unconditionally to a state that recently slaughtered 1,417 Palestinians.

    The United States government must realize that it creates thousands of terrorists when it perceives its behaviour as inconsequential such as the recent drone strikes in Northern Pakistan that resulted in killing 700 civilians. By tampering with the security of others, the U.S. can never assure its own security. And after all the dirt is swept under the carpet, the U.S. provides its adversaries with the option to elect a pro-American stooge, human rights violator, or power-hungry dictator.

    We cannot simply write articles like these as they are only short-termm solutions. We should be asking our non-Muslim friends to read books by Eric Margolis and we should push ourselves to refute the dodgy claims that people hate America because it’s a “free nation.” This must be done through television, radio, and other mainstream media. We should contact Zafar Bangash to address the political side or Kamal el-Mekki, who I believe as excellent debating skills. The reality is that only few non-Muslims will read this. The majority will be forced to listen to the story of a Nigerian man who recently boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 and will conclude that these isolated events are the source of the problem.

    We Muslims in the west must realize that we’re not a North American Ummah anymore, we’re a global Ummah. And we need to tell our neighbors that terrorism will only cease only the blood of the East is as valuable as the blood of the West.

  12. sabirah says:

    salam
    i don’t think the article is apologetic, it just states that the writer is sorry for what happened. It’s a genuine sentiment, and as such has validity. If we are sorry for something but not allowed to say that we are, wouldn’t that be wrong in some way? I thought the letter was explanatory and just showed the writers stance on the current events. i personally think it’s really important to show the outside world what position we have in the current events, not just the non muslims but muslims alike. Jazhakallah for this article, wassalam

  13. Ali Shehata says:

    Salaam alaikum to everyone

    I thought it might be important to clarify the difference between “needing to apologize” and recognizing the importance in the sentiment. I did not write this because I think we as Muslims need to apologize for every Tom, Dick and Hany that does something foolish, I wrote it because sometimes the words, “I’m sorry”, have a very profoundly healing effect. I rather think it to be on the arrogant side, not the Izaah side, to think that we are above apologizing. I also don’t believe that lecturing someone about US foreign policy will in any way heal the divisions and pain that exists. There are thousands of Americans that understand the failures and crimes of foreign policy – I have talked to many of them personally – but that hasn’t changed the reality of the overbearing types forcing their fear and their opinion on the rest of the population.

    This is not a political letter, it is a personal letter from one human to another to show them that we are not so different. And I really think that many of the people who comment negatively on these types of articles have a lot to learn in the wisdom of dawaah and the wisdom of dealing with people in general. I encourage you to truly go back to the Seerah of our beloved Prophet to see how he interacted with people who did not accept his dawaah and you might discover this wisdom in his dealings, his du’a and his heart – and Allah knows best.

    Lastly, I will be sending out the letter to a large number of my colleagues today and I will be happy to post their responses here, or even better to invite them to write their own responses on this website. Maybe their perspective and the way they perceive the letter may convince some of you of the manner of my approach, and with Allah is all success.

  14. Ali Shehata says:

    One comment that I have already received from a co-worker who is very sensitive and respectful of both Islam and the Islamic viewpoint said that he didn’t think that a Muslim trying to educate the average American on foreign policy would necessarily go over very well. This is part of the wisdom I speak of that we must consider. The source of the information is just as important as the information itself as al-Hassan and al-Hussein beautifully demonstrated when they were young boys considering how to teach an older Muslim how to properly perform ablution. It is not enough to “rid ourselves of the responsibilty” when conveying information, but to actually have a concern for the person we are conveying it to, and how to best reach them with our message. This is again a demonstrable Sunnah mentioned in the Quran (like in 18:6). I thought his point was a good one for us to consider.

    • Baasel says:

      Asalamau alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu Br. Ali,

      I find that because of certain outspoken da’ees in the U.K. engaging in politcal and islamic debates, this has revived Islam amongst many of the youth (ignore the division for a moment) and has allowed for many Brits to open their minds. This has resulted in a more left-wing media outlet, the BBC (which actually shows Muslim casualties) to educate the masses in the U.K. and hence, perhaps as a result of a more neutral view, you get more reverts. We on the other hand have FOX and CNN (which rarely show Muslim casualties) to educate millions of viewers and rarely present alternative opinions.

      I don’t really have a beef with your letter, in fact I think it’s great for dawah purposes. I’m actually just suggesting that you and others become our media representatives and yes, educate American on politics and Islam, as you’ll almost always get a political questions when talking to a non-Muslim. We as Muslims also need to remember that Islam does have a political system, unfortunately it has become a taboo subject nowadays (I think this is a modern-day phenomenon).

      I know your coworker didn’t think that educating American on foreign policy would be a useful strategy, but let’s be real, many Americans (because of CNN and Fox) are oblivious to what’s going on, and hence they think about the Nigerian man as an isolated incident. They then think about HOW they can prevent another one, but what they really should be asking is WHY would someone do that. I’m in no way justifying the act, I just think we cannnot ignore Ameircan foreign policy. Once more of the public is aware of what’s going on, you start to get crowds and a large anti-war movement. A movement such as this was one of the main causes for the U.S. to withdraw from VietNam, and I believe we could achieve the same thing here Insh’Allah or at least weaken support for the war on terror and alleviate the pain of our brothers and sisters overseas.

      Allahu Alim, but I believe we see ourselves as a North American Ummah instead of a Global Ummah. Our brothers that were killed in Afghanistan (10 civilians including children) on Dec 28, 2009 should be like our family. CNN and Fox never interivewed their neighborhood, rather they treated the entitre incident like a statistic. This has a drastic effect not only on non-Muslims (as they’ll never see both sides), but on Muslims, as we become desensitized to the shedding of our own blood. Please let me know your thoughts.

      I do know that when Rasul’Allah salalahu alayhi wasalam would see his companions doing something wrong, he would not just condemn them, but he (salalahu alayhi wasalam) would advise them. We need to advise our non-Muslim friends in regards to how they can acheive a peaceful world for the long term. When Islam and our Rasul is being attacked from every angle, we cannot afford to merely condemn or condone an incident — when we mention Umar Farooq, we should mention the deformed babies in Iraq and Abeer Qasim in the same sentance . Take Ron Paul for example, he attacted crowds and shaped the minds of many Americans to rethink their foreign policy.

      Jazak’Allah Khair
      Your brother and student,

      • s harpasand says:

        >
        >Allahu Alim, but I believe we see ourselves as a North American
        >Ummah instead of a Global Ummah. Our brothers that were killed
        >in Afghanistan (10 civilians including children) on Dec 28, 2009
        >should be like our family.
        >

        This is a very problematic statement. For an American Muslim living in a suburb of Dallas Texas the xtian or hindoo or jewish family next door is MORE OF A FAMILY then some random villager in Afghanistan or Baghdad? He should care more about the son or daughter of his next door neighbour dying in a terrorist incident at the hands of a FOREIGN Muslim terrorist rather then the children of that terrorist.

        If you expect the wider American society to accept the American Muslims as equal members of the society then the American Muslims really need to consider the wider American society as THEIR OWN rather then continue to have allegiance towards foreign lands.

        • 5th gen texan says:

          The comments on this page follow from a “Letter to my non-Muslim Neighbor,” but most of them seem to come from Muslims. So let me start by saying I although I am not a Muslim I offer the following with respect to all here. I don’t know much about Islam but this conversation gives me a lot to consider and I appreciate having all the various viewpoints. Thanks to both of you (Baasel and s harpassand) for illuminating my intellect. I live in the Dallas area too and though I don’t know any Muslims I wish them all peace.

          I supported Ron Paul (as many Christians did) partly because of his emphasis on non-interference in the affairs of foreign countries (and his oppostion to both and GOP and Democratic party socialism). That begs the question, and I ask with great respect, Baasel, does Iran have a Ron Paul? Someone who wants Iran out of Lebanon and everywhere else, for instance? I knew a Lebanese man compaining about Iran’s meddling as early as thirty years ago. I’m not suggesting that one nations’s imperialism justifies another, but to suggest that Americans are unaware of the problem, or that it is exclusively a problem of the American government, is I believe, disingenuous. The USA has no monopoly on imperialism, we’re just ahead of everybody else right now. That will change once the futility of maintaining of empires becomes apparent to a majority of American decision-makers. Whether we’re talking about Palin/Bush or Ahmadinejad, it’s still the phenomenon of jingoism, of nationalist emotion masquerading as religiosity, or patriotism, or spirituality.

          There’s value in what both of you (Baasel and sharpassand) say: proximity matters, and spiritual fidelity matters. I want my neighbors (including Muslims) to be safe and happy, and I want peace and safety for the world at large. A nation IS a family of families(as s harpassand implies) , and whether we like the concept or not, we are all global citizens, whether connected by the perceived duty of religious fealty (as Baasel implies) or the awareness of the unescapable interconnectedness of all nations.

          If we, in America, could get it together (respect and even learn to like, one another’s differences) we could do so much more for the world at large, just by providing an example. I don’t agree with Bush or Obama but it doesn’t help my desire to promote rational thinking to curse either one of them. Peace will come from promoting what works, rather than hating what doesn’t work.

          As I read the comments on this page, I realize how many thoughtful Muslims there are. I would not have known that otherwise. When we consider the deranged terrorist or the “stupid redneck” that doesn’t have a clue about what spirituality really means, perhaps we should see it as a disease; something for God to heal. We wouldn’t condemn a drunk who knows no other way and is slave to his disease. God give us some compassion for the morally ignorant. I’m not saying they should be excused (terrorists should be stopped and ignorance should be corrected), but if we don’t pray for them, we’re doing no more for the situation than can be accomplished by the person of no faith.

          Atif Mirza’s statement “We need not tell anyone that Islam does not teach terrorism, everyone knows that,” is amazing. So Atif Mirza knows the mind of every person on the planet? Forgive me, but I thought only God had that ability. I believe there is considerable evidence that many people do believe just that, and that some people, both non-Muslims and a few calling themselves Muslims, perpetuate that belief.

          Apologies do matter. Every rational and honest voice from Islam moves us in the non-muslim society closer to acceptance of you as you really are.

          Apologies do matter. I apologize for every hate-infected mind on my side of the planet, including my own. God help us all.

          After reading this article by Ali Shehata, I’ll never think of Muslims in the same way again.

  15. Raju Kurien says:

    All on this blog is pinpointing the reaosn of terrorism; very few have condemned these coward, murderous acts.

    Whatever are teh reasons, Muslims are the only ones conducting these worldwide. are they the only ones with problems/

    in any case, whatever may be teh reason, it just does not justify these bombings of innocents. If Muslims have problems with israel, attack israel. but, it is muslim countries themselves – KSa, egypt that colludes with Israel denying rights of palestinians.

    It is unfortunate, few muslims ahve hijacked the rleigion. Other Muslims, as longa sthey are silent on these, are partnners in crime becaus eof their silence.

    muslims are focused only on the bad Jihad – killing people; not on education, not on womens lives, not on learning. They are looking backward to 650, whilke others are racing forward to AD 3000.

  16. UmmeAmmaarah says:

    JazakAllahu khair Dr. Shehata… wonderful piece.. i keep writing similar letters in my mind, and wish there was someway i could get all my neighbors to read it and understand that they have totally wrong notions of what Islam is about, and that the ‘terrorists’ they see out there are the exceptions rather than the rule. For most people here, Islam is foreign, maybe even exotic and unknown. All they know about Islam is what they’ve heard through the media, and c’mon, how many times do we know about things, only the facts that we see on TV or hear commonly spoken about? After these ‘terrorist’ attacks when i leave my home and go outside, i keep wondering how many people hate or even fear ‘obviously muslim’ me being around them? If someone is civil and decent, wishes me or greets me with a smile, I honestly wonder if I would have reacted so had i been in their place. There are decent, fair people around, and we need messages like these to reach them. JazakAllahu khair again, and may Allah Ta’Ala grant u the success of both worlds.

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