SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 – THE Muslim Story and A strategy for Coping – Part One

Nov 5, 2001

WHAT KIND OF MUSLIM WERE THEY?

What kind of Muslims were these, someone is bound to ask someday, who in one masterful stroke were able to deal so many death-blows to such a wide range of Muslim interests, causes, hopes, dreams, accomplishments and triumphs?

Not only here in America and the West but throughout the world? For, in one brilliant flash, they gave the green light to India, Russia and China, among others, to crack down ruthlessly on their own respective Muslim minorities.

What kind of Islam did these masters of diabolical planning and demonic performance believe in or practice that they, in a single fateful day, let loose such a deluge of unmitigated disasters on Muslim America and Muslim Europe and the Muslim world in general on so many different fronts?

What were these “devoted” Muslims – the ones who are held to be the perpetrators, whoever they may be – really thinking? In one single blow, to destroy the good name of Islam in America and the world? And, at the same time, close every avenue of opportunity and advantage for Muslims all over the world? And put Muslims everywhere on the defensive – and on the run?

What perfect dreamers and visionaries of Islamic glory and resurgence were these “devoted” fanatical Islamic terrorists that in one clear swoop they threw the ultimate doomsday book upon Islam and Muslims for the foreseeable future?

Perfect and meticulous and “brilliant” planners of terror they were, we are told by those in charge of our security at the highest levels. And yet, it appears, they were not without chinks in the armour of their cleverness and cunning. For, they left behind detailed manuals, maps and manuscripts of their terrorist designs and undertakings – some of them in Arabic.

WHAT KIND OF ISLAM WAS THEIRS?

What kind of Islam did they practice, someone is bound to ask someday, that it teaches them to commit suicide, when the Prophet of Islam himself so clearly and emphatically forbade his followers from ever committing suicide?

What kind of Islam was theirs that it made them kill thousands of innocent civilians on a peaceful day, without apparent cause, warning or notice?

For, Islamic teachings and traditions specifically forbid – even in times of war – the killing of women, children, religious leaders, non-combatants and those who lay down their arms, or take refuge in a place of worship or in their own houses behind closed doors?

These are all questions worth asking. But whether they will be raised and given their due share in the ongoing national and international debate in the media and in government policy circles at the highest levels, is another matter.

And even if they are, will that become public knowledge is yet another matter.

Someday, university professors will get grants, tenures and promotions writing books on this subject, asking these very same questions. They will go on to make “discoveries” regarding these issues that will be heralded in newspapers as pioneering and pre-eminent.

Someday also, news media will get awards doing analysis and investigative pieces and documentaries pursuing these very same angles and uncovering answers to these very same questions.

But evidently not today!

Today is not the day to expect answers to any or all of these questions. For, today is not the day for a relentless pursuit of truth. Today, the focus is not on law and justice and truth and respect for civilian life, but on the patching up of America’s wounds and on the staunching of the haemorrhage in America’s soul.

And up to a point, it is only right and fair and proper that it should be so. For, right now, America is wounded and bleeding – in her body and in her heart and in her spirit. As a result, America’s state of mind right now is not very different from that of a wounded tiger in a jungle.

It is not unreasonable, therefore, that there should be voices at large in America today that are clamouring for a “measure of vengeance” against those seen as the perpetrators – whoever they may be, even though no one knows for certain who they are.

What really matters is the fact that right now, the perpetrators have been pronounced to be Muslims.

A consensus quickly seems to have been reached on this question within hours of the disaster.

For, according to government sources and media reports, they are all people with impeccable Muslim names, though, it turns out, many of them with questionable personal identities – and at least one of them, newspapers say, is still alive.

But sooner or later, America will have to rise above her grief, anger, shock and pain – and above her lust for vengeance and global domination – and speak and act in a more human and responsible manner – befitting its role as the world’s only superpower and moral leader.

America – and the world – will have to rise to a higher and more moral and sophisticated level of analysis and understanding and deal seriously with some of these same questions.

DENOUNCING TERROR IN ALL FORMS

At the same time, let us make no mistake about it. To a Muslim mind, the bombings were a despicable crime, no matter whose was the hand and the mind behind them. From an Islamic point of view, they ought to fill every human heart with disgust, shame, sorrow, anger and revulsion.

Muslims absolutely and categorically denounce terror in all its forms, wherever and by whomsoever it may be perpetrated – regardless of whether it is perpetrated on or by Muslims.

In this sense, the September 11 terror acts are no different from some of the worst atrocities and terror acts perpetrated by the Israeli army and settlers on Palestinian Muslims or by the Serbs on the Muslims in Bosnia.

As such, they deserve the fullest and most unreserved denunciation and condemnation from Muslims everywhere, as does the reign of terror let loose by the Israelis and the Serbs on Muslim Palestinians and Bosnians.

Muslims must not mince words in speaking the truth on this issue, for God made them the last refuge of truth and integrity in this world.

In doing this, the Muslims must separate the act from the actor, something the rest of the world has not been able to do very well. The act is known and it must be unequivocally rejected and condemned.

As for the actors, even though Muslims may have some doubts about their identity, the Muslim position about the actors is quite clear and emphatic: hunt down the culprits; bring them to justice; try them in public; execute them.

From a Muslim point of view, the guilty person, group, agency, institution or state must be held accountable and punished with all the authority and force of national and international law, regardless of who that may be – Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist or someone else.

If it turns out that the perpetrators were indeed Muslims, even then the Muslim position does not change. For, a Muslim’s devotion to truth transcends tribal, ethnic, national and religious loyalties and allegiances.

To understand this fully, let Muslims recall the words of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, when he declared from the pulpit that if his own daughter, Fatimah, had been guilty of theft, he would have no hesitation in punishing her.

The Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was responding to the entreaties of people to spare a woman of noble birth who had been found guilty of theft.

Therefore, from an Islamic point of view, it is not the actor that defines the act, but it is the act that defines the actor. That means, regardless of whether it is the terrorists, or the government of Israel, or any other government or agency, that cause civilian deaths and destruction of homes and property, they all stand condemned by their own acts.

This is what Islam teaches in a nutshell: speak the truth and uphold the principle of justice, even if it be against yourself, for, you are the champions of truth and witnesses of God on earth.

From an Islamic point of view, it is a fallacy and a travesty to argue that, when it comes to criminal matters and questions of justice, something is right because the actors are our friends, but the same thing is wrong if the actors happen to be our adversaries.

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