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Newsletter for September 2011
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Aftermath of 9/11 and the key issues:
by Nasir Shamsi
Here is my take on the key issues
that concern all of us in the wake of the barbaric tragedy of
SEPTEMBER 11. This paper, I hope, will contribute towards
understanding of the essence and spirit of the teachings of
Islam; it will provide an insight into the beliefs and practices
of the Muslim Americans who, like their fellow citizens, are
hard working people committed to the great ideals on which the
American society is based, that is--Life, Liberty and Pursuit of
The horrific events of September 11 shocked all of us. Let me say at the outset that the terrorists have no religion, because no religion allows killing of innocent men and women. Islam particularly enjoins absolute respect for human life. Islam does not permit violence. The Arabic word Islam means peace. Nothing in Islam is more precious than a human life.
Let me quote here from "Qur’an", the Holy Book of the Muslims, and Qur’an cannot be taken lightly by any Muslim, because according to the Islamic belief every word of Qur'an was received by the prophet Muhammad from God-- the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus--through the Angel Gabrial.
A prominent verse in the Chapter al-Ma'eda says:
"... whoever kills an innocent human, it is as if he has killed all
Again in the Chapter Al-Nisaa 4:93, God has commanded:
"..Whoever kills a believer intentionally, he will be sentenced
eternally to the Hell-Fire. God's Anger and His curse will be upon him, and He will prepare for him a great torture".
What happened in our country is undoubtedly a grave criminal act which Islam does not approve. As you know Muslims, the governments and the people all over the world have condemned the horrible attacks on New York and Washington.
The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war. When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that's made brothers and sisters out of every race-- out of every race. America counts millions of Muslims amongst its citizens, and these hard working Muslims make a valuable contribution to our country. Among them are Muslim doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, economists and other professionals. There are among them also who serve the Military and the law enforcement agencies, and in great numbers they contribute to the economy as businessmen, investors, factory and office workers. These hard working and patriotic Muslim Americans love their country
and the democratic principles on which it is founded. They share with their fellow-citizens the American spirit of equality and justice for all.
Let me repeat--there is no room for an act of terrorism in Islam. Suicide is specifically prohibited in Islam and there is no exception to this rule. It is on record that Muslims over the centuries during their rule over different parts of the world, treated the followers of other religions with great respect and tolerance. When the rest of the world was living in darkness, Islam became source of light. It enjoined equity and justice and right to life-- interestingly the very principles, which in the years to come were to form the basis of the constitution of the United States. The Muslim thinkers have in their writings appreciated this commonness of ideology and they sincerely believe that the success of America lies essentially in its adherence to these fundamental liberties and respect for human rights as enshrined in the Bill of Human Rights. Let me add here that for the continued success and prosperity of our country in the future, we, all Americans, must not let these Liberties be lost at any pretext.
It is the protection of human rights and liberties and the faithful protection of Life, Liberty and Happiness that makes America different from other countries. It is important to provide safeguards to ensure safety but in no way any of these measures be allowed to jeopardize the principle of equal rights and liberties that have made this country unique and blessed.
Islam is a religion of Peace and Enlightenment. It helped remove the ignorance of the dark ages. Without the light of Islam, the west would not be where it is today. Let us not confuse the darkness of the ignorant with the radiant light of Islam. It is unfair and unjust for the Media to blame Islam or Muslims for the criminal acts of a few, only because they carried Muslim names.
Remember a few years ago, a few Tylenol bottles had resulted in the death of Several individuals. Did we ban a Brand or close down an industry for that? No, some safeguards were adopted to avoid such mishaps in the future. It is highly inappropriate then to start profiling people of a race or religion, for the isolated act of a few individuals. Did the Media characterize the terrorist act of Timothy McVeigh as a Christian act ? The fact of the matter is that Islam was hi-jacked by these criminals who have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam. Islam is also the victim of the war being waged by the fanatics who twist the words of the Qur’an to justify their violent political agendas. Whereas suicidal death is haram, there is nothing in Quran to permit senseless killing of the innocent men and women, believers or non-believers.
The word Jihad being so much used and misinterpreted by Media today has occurred in Qur’an largely in the meaning of " INNER STRUGGLE", to improve personal conduct and to seek closeness to God. Jihad does not allow taking of an innocent life or one's own life. There are three exceptions, however: you can fight back, if you are attacked, if you are forced out of your homes or if you are stopped from practicing your religion. Jihad, in the sense of fighting back is allowed only in these three cases. It is also the considered view of many Jurists that a Jihad in the sense of fighting for one of these reasons can only be decreed only by the Prophet or the State.
I will quote here from Qur’an to show how the Muslims have been commanded to treat other people:
Say : "We believe in God, and the Revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and (the books) given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to [all] prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we submit to God. " (Chapter 2:136)
Those who believe [in the Qur'an], and those who follow the Jewish [Scriptures], and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and act righteously, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Chapter 2:62)
O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Chapter, 49:13)
To conclude, I must emphasize once again that there is no room for extremism and fundamentalism or terrorism in Islam, a religion which enjoins greatest respect for human life. It is the ignorant and the misguided that use the name of religion to lend credibility to their mischievous acts. It is of utmost importance that to preserve the Unique Freedoms and Human Rights enshrined in the Constitution by the Fathers of the Nation, the Law Enforcement Agencies must not hold a people of a race or religion responsible for the isolated acts of a few criminals.
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