In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved LORD
This was published on my Beliefnet blog, Common Word, Common Lord, on September 11
It seems hard to believe that ten years – a full decade – have passed since that horrific day in September when the country endured a trauma unlike any she has ever suffered. I still remember the unimaginable scenes of terror, horror, dread, and destruction. I hoped and prayed that what I beheld on the television screen was a terrible dream, with the disgusting realization that it was no dream at all.
Reflecting over the past decade since 9/11, during which almost everything that has occurred had something to do – either directly or indirectly – with said attacks, there is one thing that comes into my mind time and again:
Never allow your hatred of a people lead you to commit injustice… (5:8)
This verse of the Qur’an, perhaps one of its most powerful, is wholly relevant to the events that transpired in the decade since 9/11.
Of course, our country had the right to bring those who attacked our country to justice. Of course, our country has every right to pursue those barbarians who seek to harm our people at every chance they get. But, that should not mean that we give ourselves the right, in the name of 9/11 and those who died on that day, to attack, and bomb, and invade at will all across the globe. It is not right or honorable or proper to lead to the deaths of tens of thousands and the displacement of millions of equally innocent people in the name of self-defense.
We must “never let [our] hatred of [those vicious barbarians] lead [us] to commit injustice...”
Some of our people have shown us – meaning the American Muslim community – an ugly face. Some of our people, seeking “revenge” against the terror committed in the name of our faith by those who do not truly follow the faith, have attacked American Muslims, attacked their houses of worship, attacked women who wear the headscarf, and tried to make them feel unwelcome in their own country. They must remember to “never let their hatred [for the terrorists] lead them to commit injustice.”
These terrorists have nothing to do with us. We have nothing to do with these terrorists. They are mindless murderers, who twist our faith to try to justify their violence and murder. They are like all religious extremists: they will use their sacred texts to justify their actions. But, that does not mean that what they say is true. That does not mean that we are like them. We are not like them. Attacking us and smearing our faith does not fight the terrorists: it only emboldens them to continue their violence.
Please remember: “never let your hatred [of the terrorists] move you to commit injustice” and attack American Muslims. We are on your team and are part of your family as Americans. We are not the enemy: the terrorists are…and we are not those people.
On the same token, we must remember that, despite the actions of those ignorant people among us who seek to lump all Muslims into the same “terrorist” bag, the majority – the overwhelming majority – of our people are good people who are not like the ignorant among them. The majority – the overwhelming majority – treat their Muslim neighbors with kindness and respect, becoming of the spirit of America. Despite the hatred of those ignorant people, we American Muslims must “never let [the hatred of the ignorant ones] move [us] to commit injustice.”
We American Muslims must never let the hatred of the ignorant make us recoil in hatred and separation from the rest of our country and her people. Despite the actions of the few ignorant ones among us, it must never let us give up on America. America is beautiful, her Lord is Beautiful, and her people are beautiful, despite the ugliness of the ignorant.
On this day of prayer and remembrance, ten years after the horrific attacks on our country, we must all – every American of every stripe – pledge to reject the hatred of those who want to hate. We must pledge to work together, be together, and move forward as one people. It is the way the Lord wants us to be, and it is the way we can honor those who died on 9/11, ten years ago.