On September 11th, 2001, as Americans watched in disbelief as the Twin Towers collapsed, we felt sadness for the loss of life and anger towards those that perpetrated the crimes. Once it became known that Al-Qaeda was responsible for the acts, many people wrongly assumed that all, or even most Muslims sympathized with or found joy in the actions of these terrorists.
Although President Bush, much of the media (such as MTV, which showed stories on basic Islamic beliefs), and many professors and scholars stepped forward to acknowledge that the views of those linked to the hijackings were not the views of all Muslims, there was still a general backlash against American Muslims. Not only did American Muslims have to deal with the loss of loved ones and fellow Muslims (hundreds of Muslims congregated for Friday prayer in the World Trade Center every week and many Muslim policemen and firemen died during the rescue), but we also had to defend and justify our views and beliefs.
Being born and raised in Fort Myers, FL, I have always been proud to be an American and have always taken an active role in everything I was involved in, school and community. Seeing the towers fall that day was indescribably shocking. When I learned that Muslim terrorists were behind the plot, I was angry and sad – angry that they would be malicious enough to commit these deeds – sad that so many people had died and that my religion would be under scrutiny.
Never before had my faith and citizenship come into “conflict.” I had always taken pride in being a part of the great melting pot of races, religions, ethnicities, and beliefs that we call America. I felt extreme patriotism and the confusion of my misrepresented religion all at the same time. As a Muslim, I do not believe that someone who murders innocents is a martyr, but rather a murderer. I do not revere those people, but am infuriated by their actions that caused an incorrect portrayal of the religion they supposedly died for.
All Muslims are guided by the words of Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, which is believed to be the word of God, and explains how Muslims should lead their lives. It says fighting should only be in self-defense, a fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, not an aggressive fight.
The Qur’an also forbids suicide. None of these supposed martyrs can provide any textual evidence from the Qur’an or from the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad to prove anything that justifies what they’ve done. The Qur’an also says that there will be people that think they are doing right, but they are doing wrong.
Although we may learn quite a bit from the tragedies of September 11th, one lesson we must take away is that America is built upon tolerance and respect of our differences. The only way to make a better future for others and ourselves is to learn from mistakes of the past and also from one another and come together to make our world a place in which we can celebrate our differences.