September 11th, 2008
07:02 PM ET

Spending seven Septembers hijacking my religion back

Editor's Note: We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world. Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of themuslimguy.com and Contributing Editor for Islamica Magazine in Washington DC.
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Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
Founder, themuslimguy.com

Mahatma Gandhi once said that, “I have nothing new to teach the world…Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills.” Since time immemorial, our human experiment has revolved around the enlightened advancement of collective human thought. Within the current ungodly global mix of perpetual war, everlasting human poverty, extremist terrorism and global racism; our human race has completely and utterly lost its collective mind. Since our world has gone completely bonkers, the unquenchable thirst for social justice of this young American Muslim human rights lawyer and public diplomat must be positively channeled at this juncture of infinite global sadness towards a purpose-driven life guided down an untaken road called Islamic Pacifism.

9/11 was ten days after my twenty-fourth birthday. As a second year law student at the time, even though I had already lived more than two decades; in many ways, my life only truly began at 8:46 am EST on September 11, 2001. Because as an American Muslim, that would be the day that my country was attacked by people who would also infamously hijack my religion.

Since that fateful day seven Septembers ago, my life as a human rights lawyer, media troubadour and public diplomat has now become one big absurd game of television musical chairs and YouTube video clips. From CNN to The TODAY Show to BBC World News, I have spent a dizzying chunk of the last several years on the proverbial 'hot seat'; as a global Muslim public intellectual for over a billion mainstream Muslims who never want to be represented by the bobble-headed terrorist, Osama bin Laden.

So alas, with my trusty ThinkPad and red Swingline stapler, that day began my never-ending quest to condemn terrorism as an international media spokesperson, defeat hate crimes as a leading American Muslim civil rights lawyer, educate the general public about Islam and help create a millennial version of Islamic Pacifism for our entire global community today.

This revived gentle giant of global pacifism shall welcome all people; regardless of any race, religion or socioeconomic status. Whether you are white, black or purple, whether you are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or celebrate Festivus; our next generation of youthful global pacifists can help reclaim our culture of humanity from sinister warmongering dinosaurs with names like Osama, Coulter, Hamas and Cheney.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that, “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” By giving global pacifism a millennial makeover, we shall use the witty humor of Jon Stewart, the humanistic nuance of Noam Chomsky and the fearless determination of Nelson Mandela to quench our collective thirst for social justice.

With the hipster slyness of Danny Ocean to the groovy idealism of John Lennon, for anyone in the world who has ever earnestly prayed for a Muslim Gandhi; you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that the life memoirs of this young Muslim pacifist shall one day be playfully entitled ‘The Autobiography of Gandhi X’.

Finally proving that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, everyone can rest easy knowing that Barack Obama is not the only brown civil rights lawyer from Chicago with the audacity of hope running through his every vein.

Do not worry, ladies and gentlemen, a billion Muslim pacifist sisters and brothers continue to challenge those who hijacked Islam and we will spend our lives serenely hijacking it back; by any peaceful means necessary.

Even though some Americans may mistakenly think that Muslims only know recipes for Molotov cocktails; here are some other societal contributions of Muslims to modern civilization:

For example, it was Muslims who invented algebra.

Most people would also probably be surprised to learn that it was a Muslim who designed the Sears Tower in my sweet home of Chicago.

Even more surprising is the fact that 4 out of 57 Muslim nations on earth have already elected female heads-of-state; something that we as Americans have been unable to do thus far in history.

Additionally, the greatest American boxer ever, Muhammad Ali; and the funniest dude in America, Dave Chappelle, are both Muslims.

Most importantly, 3 out of the last 5 Nobel Peace Prize winners have been Muslims; one for fighting poverty in Bangladesh, one for disarming nuclear weapons and Shrin Ebadi, the Iranian Muslim human rights lawyer valiantly fighting for the rights of women worldwide.

But more important than Nobel Peace Prizes, Muslim culture has brought crunchy falafel, henna tattoos and yummy hummus to our American shores.

But all because of one terrorist cave-dweller, 1400 years of Pan-Islamic cultural and societal progress goes down the drain.

Thanks a lot, Osama…

Your ‘Gandhi X’ has also been cast in an upcoming Leonardo DiCaprio Hollywood spy movie thriller (Body of Lies with Russell Crowe) and has also emerged victorious at The Doha Debates in front of 300 million BBC World television viewers.

Honoring the fact that two Nobel Peace Prize winners and an American president (Bill Clinton) had also previously graced that same stage in Doha; this Muslim pacifist used that same global stage to call for the complete eradication of every form of global racism in the world, including Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.

Black. White. Muslim. Jew. It doesn’t matter. It’s all wrong.

Nonetheless, I still get called a 'terrorist' by knucklehead racists because of my unabashed love of Islam and am still called a Muslim 'hippy' by knucklehead extremists for my unabashed platform of peace.

Well, since Islam means 'peace' anyway, I shall proudly wear the 'Islamic Peacenik' label as a badge of honor. Because with such seething hatred in the world today, the only thing that anyone can condemn me for is my seething love.

As the Religious Lefty or whatever other silly names Osama and Coulter can conjure in their puny little brains; this Islamic pacifist will continue to reclusively perch atop the shadowy rooftops of the world somberly awaiting the next global light beacon from the Muslim Bat-Signal in the form of silly Danish cartoons, ungodly acts of terrorism or diplomatic calls for reconciliation.

In explaining the utter human simplicity of my global pacifism, we should be reminded of the sage words of Albert Einstein: “My pacifism is an instinctive feeling; a feeling that possesses me because the murder of men is disgusting…My attitude is not derived from any intellectual theory but is based on my deepest antipathy to every kind of cruelty and hatred…”

It should be no secret that our world is in darkness tonight. A pacifist Mozart to every racist Salieri out there, by successfully turning the world into a United Colors of Benetton advertisement, we can ensure that the only thing that all the beautiful babies of the world will ever need to worry about is filling their cute tummies, pooping in their smelly diapers and deciding which color Nerf ball to play with today.

Alas, everyone on all sides should now lay down their bombs and/or water-boards for one moment and contemplate whether we collectively wish to take a path towards perpetual war or coexistent peace and align ourselves with devilish racist warmongers or choose to be on the side of loving warrior angels.

Until that wondrous day when racist warmongers worldwide are overcome with the righteous ferocity of global peacemakers, this Islamic Pacifist welcomes one and all to our globally-warmed Sherwood Forest as our merry band of billion pacifist believers continue to gently comfort the afflicted, ruthlessly afflict the comfortable and lovingly wonder if God will ever forgive us for what we have done to each other.

soundoff (244 Responses)
  1. Steve in Connecticut

    Wherever and whenever people are "different" in some way that difference will create discomfort but we can't forget our differences are helps us all grow. If we were all alike everyone would drive a dark blue Ford. One trip out of the mall to the parking lot would make my point. We need to focus rather on what we have in common. If this point were to be preached by the religous leaders of not just Islam but all faiths we'd all realize we're all after the same goal. The same destination if you will. This guy gets it.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  2. AmericanObserver

    It is the passengers of United 93 whom I honor today. May their memory always be a blessing. May their rational assessment of their actions – that they were going to die anyway, but that by their actions, they could save thousands more – be an inspiration to us, and a warning to those who have declared themselves our enemies.

    We are a nation that, in spite of the fettering ties of collectivism and nanny-state-ism, still kindles in the breasts of all our countrymen, the embers of heroism, to be fanned at need.

    Our martyrs die defending the lives of others.

    Yours die with suicide bombs in front of public playgrounds full of children.

    If you claim to speak for over a billion Muslims rather than Osama bin Laden, why is it the United States that is doing the bulk of the fighting to close down his network? Why is it that innocent Iraqis are being killed by their suicide bombers, rather than a Muslim insurgency trying to take out Al Queda? Oh wait – that insurgency came about during the much maligned surge, where we offered our protection to Sunnis willing to take on Al Queda. The same surge that was pilloried as a horrible waste of resources in an unwinnable war by the left.

    We spending half a trillion dollars, and the lives of people we hold dearly, to clean up the mess your religion made.

    Yet you equate Hannity and Coulter with Osama in your piece. What a lovely display of ingratitude and the inability to look at this day without trying to insult the majority of Americans who believe differently than you.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  3. Albert

    Excellent article. By the way.......as a Christian, I believe my religion has been hijacked as well. Over and over the right-wingers invoke the name of "Christianity" in support of their political and economic views. The Church of Jesus Christ is not the church that condemns those who vote a certain way or who embrace "non-concervative" views!

    September 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  4. chris

    I agree with Grant 100%, "Very moving commentary. However, I see significant problems with the fact that the Muslim leadership in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elswhere has failed to loudly and collectively condenm the use of suicide bobmers – especially the use of young women and children aswe have seen in Pakistan, Iraq, and Israel. This failure does not speak well for institutional Islam. Instead we see instances of Imams and Aytollahs applauding this barbaric behavior".

    We are told Islam is the religion of peace...by muslims. However, after 911 where were the THOUSANDS of muslims protesting in the streets in the U.S. and around the world VISIBLY raising up to "take control of your own religion again". Unfortunately the only time we see thousands of muslims protesting is when they are ranting about their hatred for the U.S. and it's policies.

    Throughout history (and today throughout the world) Islam is anything but the religion of peace. When will this change?

    Until muslims protest in the same fashion for peace on a worldwide scale and turn in the radical elements practicing religion to the authorities, you are kidding yourself if you think this will change.

    Walk the Talk...that speaks volumes.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  5. LL

    This is the most heartfelt and truthful thing I've read in a long time. I wish that, on this historical day, every American could read this a reflect upon it.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:51 pm |
  6. nyb angli

    Thank you for the article.

    I fail to understand why is it all muslims are lumped together? There are arab muslims, asian muslims, far eastern muslims, european muslims and afrcan muslims....This horrenous act was committed by a people that were arab muslims for thier own agenda and their own closemindedness. Why am I being put in the spot light for this faction of a group that don't ever represent the whole arab muslims.

    Why then aren't we asking all christians to condemn acts by Milosovic or Kradic. Why do we have to keep on apologizing for some abominable crooks with whom I have nothing in commom except the fact that their god has the same name as my god?

    September 11, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  7. DK

    am i the only one to notice an armchair peacenik comparing himself to gandhi being absurd to the extreme, how can you take someone seriously when all he's done is talk talk talk and admits in the same breath that he's not taken seriously by other muslims. I don't see if anyone beyond this side of the fence has heard of him or takes him seriously

    sounds like a paris hilton wannabe, famous for being famous with little substance beyond talk

    September 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm |
  8. Raymond in DC

    While I commend your good heart, a "feel good" piece that obscures truth is of limited value. The 19 terrorists on that day were not "hijacking" their religion, but simply bringing up to date a jihadist philosophy woven into the very fabric of Islam. What was the spread of Islam in the 7th century but imperial conquest of "unbelievers"? What was the institution of dhimmitude but a claim that Muslims are to be superior? Were the fanatical Almohads of the 12th century or the 18th century Barbary pirates who kidnapped and enslaved merchants for Islam also "hijackers" of the true peaceful faith?

    In the face of the Muslim multitudes who continue to hate the West, Israel and Jews, I suppose it makes you feel good that a few Muslims have earned the Nobel Peace Prize. Folks like Arafat the terrorist, and el Baradei who has done much to enable Iran to go nuclear.

    Mind you, I have lived and worked with a few Muslims over the years, but none were practitioners of the faith. In order to take Jews and Christians as friends, they had to ignore the directives of the Koran. As a Muslim legal scholar at al Azhar wrote a few years ago, if one talks of Islam stripped of polygamy, its discrimination against Jews, Christians and women, its belief in jihad, it is no longer Islam. Something to think about.

    BTW, more than 10,000 terror attacks in the name of Islam worldwide since 9/11 tell me more than all the "Religion of Peace" articles combined.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  9. LL in AZ

    Great article. More moderate Muslims need to raise their voices to take a stand against those who kill and hurt in the name of their religion.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
  10. Miguel de Santiago

    This is an excellent reflection. Thank you!! Merci y Gracias.
    Let me say, that RELIGION in general is getting hijacked .. fundamentalism, bigotry, prejudice is being supported by narrow or errant understandings of faith.

    If one is a believer, God created us in the image of God .. and promises PEACE. We are all equals. No matter our faith, clothes we wear, foods we eat, and holidays we celebrate. Look inside and see all that is goo.

    Thank you for writing this today.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  11. Matt in NY

    I admire your conviction, passion, and intelligence. I wish more people were like you.

    The thing that bothers me is that people think that just because Jesus was himself a peaceful person, that makes ALL of Christianity peaceful. EVERY religion (even buddhism) has sects that are extremely exclusivist and violent. People throw around the word, "Fundamentalism" and almost always are referring to Islam. The term "fundamentalism" actually came into existence in the early 1900's describing a group of extreme exlcusivist Christians in the southern part of the United States. It was based off the book they created, called "The Fundamentals," which was about the fundamentals for Christian faith. They were the type of people who said other people would burn in hell if they didn't believe exactly what this group believed.

    Ghandi and MLK Jr. and Mandela. These people are not spoken about enough.

    Personally, I blame the media for the poor image of Islam. They focus solely on the small contingent of muslims who believe in this violence. They don't focus on the majority of Muslims who believe in peace and love. It isn't good news to them.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  12. Bill

    Mike, there are milions of Muslims who live in North America and think there is no better place to live and raise their families. They are as patriotic as any other segment of American society can be. And when it comes to expressing their loylaty for America, they do not care about any backlash. Like Christianity, Muslims have dozens of sects and if they worried about each others backlash, may they will become one sect. Muslims do not lack support for anti-terrorism stance, they lack media support to cover milions of such stances.

    If media shows milions of patriotic or even dozens of patriotic Muslims, would it increase their ratings? However, if after a long hard exhausting search if they find one Muslim whom they can present as a terrorist/fundamantilist/nuts – IT MAKES HEADLINES – and other media outlets jump on the storry as vulchers. For media that is more important than PEACE. If there will be peace in the world, what will be the dramatic headlines and lead stories?

    What sounds more dramatic: "a Muslim terrorist found in an American city about to do something or nothing" (after a long hard exhausting search)


    milions of patriotic Muslims living in America are taking a stance against a fraction (0.00001%) of fundamantlists among them.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  13. Julianna

    I think your article is wonderful and I wish you luck in your fight to get your religion back. My opinion has always been that terrorists are a small part of the human family, so imagine my thoughts after 9/11 when we read that most Muslims understood why the attack happened, danced in the streets (yes that was shown on TV) and didn't bother to speak up as you are doing now. Or maybe they did and the media ignored it.

    Be that as it is, Osama and his ilk have not won...not yet. It will be people like you that defeat him. I wish you all the best.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  14. Ken in MO

    Although I agree in principle, I am left asking...where are all these "peace loving Muslims"? Start in Libya and go to Indonesia, and you can't find a majority Muslim country that is actually practicing "peace loving". Every one is either run by a despot (or group of despots), or has a nominally "benevolent" despot (e.g. Saudi Royal Family) that is constantly fighting off assassination and overthrow by large, locally-grown fanatic elements. A far-left, liberal, self-proclaimed "human rights lawyer" and "public diplomat" (and what exactly is that, anyway?) living in the US worshiping Noam Chomsky and Nelson Mandela is hardly a representative for the average Muslim, no matter how much of an "international media spokesperson" he fancies himself to be. Go live in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or the like for couple years - experience Sharia Law first-hand - experience Taliban and Al Quaeda first-hand - and then come back and lecture us about how Muslims worldwide really feel, and what they really want, and what they really believe. You will most likely find that, unfortunately, a large percentage either actively support or at least tacitly approve of the majority of it. You don't burn McDonalds and vandalize Burger Kings in multiple countries over a bunch of Danish Cartoons without having a fundamental core belief in the justification of such acts. That's what Muslims really need to address - look in the mirror to see what's wrong with Islam. Human Rights Lawyer Physician, Heal Thyself.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  15. David A. Bliss

    After 9/11, the silence from Muslims condemning the act was deafening. If Jews or Christians had done this, rabbis, ministers, and priests would have been falling over themselves getting to microphones to condemn it. If the professor from Princeton (I have forgotten his name) who is supposed to be an international expert on Islam is correct, 15% of Muslims support al-Qaeda's methods and 30% are sympathetic with them (I've also heard those numbers elsewhere). So I don't believe the "1 billion Muslim pacifists" statement. And Muslims must theologically address Sura 9, the last and therefore most definitive statement of Allah calling for the spread of Islam by the sword (attack Christians and Jews until they submit). And comparing Dick Cheney to Hamas and Ann Coulter to Osama bin Laden is moral idiocy.

    I want global peace as much as anyone. But as long as Muslims gather en masse to chant death to Israel, death to America, and death to the West while others (individuals and nations like IRAN) seek WMD, I prefer to keep my guard up.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  16. S Callahan

    I applaud your article....being a Christian I too desire peace for all men and this article brings to mind the song:
    Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  17. Norm

    I am a Muslim and I lived for first 24 years of my life in Pakistan and have been living in US for last 6 years. I see lot of people complaining that why don't Muslim stand against Osama and why don't they see Muslim protest. There are two main reasons 1- Most of the Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan are living in severe poverty so they have no time to think of any thing else other than bread. 2- The media does not show you the true picture. I read Fox, I read CNN, I read local news paper of Muslim world and I have concluded that there are forces in this world who just want war in this world and would never show true side of any thing and would create fear and uncertainty. I have lived in both worlds so I know there is not much we can do unless media gains some sanity.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  18. Bob

    While I applaud your efforts, it's hard to believe that every Muslim disagrees with Osama, despite the known/given media bias. If this were true, then why the difficulty taking back your religion?

    With that said, you can't blame the "other side" without looking at your own folly. The war has been very profitable for a select few. Dick Cheney, his friends at Halliburton and his boss (Bush) the oil man, have all gotten rich at the expense of the American people (many lost lives and $53 trillion in debt) – all the while, playing into the hands of extremist. And yes, we voted them into office.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  19. A Khan

    I find it is interesting reading so far & amaged to read so many opinions on this issue. I don't see it has anything with this religion itself, it was beyond that. Just see who was/is the most benificiary of this incident. The group should know that it is the most wrong & unjustified thing they can ever do against this country. In Islam, killing is probihited & the big question still remains unanswered: WHO build-up & prepared these folks behind this attack".

    September 11, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  20. Seenu Subbu

    I am sorry, but has Islam ever had a peaceful conquest, in its history?
    Indian subcontinent was brutalized, subjected to atrocities, slavery, repeated raids and treasures looted, hundreds of million Muslims now stand testimony to the brutal and forceful conversions at sword point.

    Mosques were established on destroyed temples.

    Bin Laden and his coterie are only the 21st century versions of their predecessors, aiming for Islam to dominate the world in their own ways.
    Please stop spreading the myth of "Islam, the peaceful religion". Koran says "smite the non-believer".

    September 11, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  21. Ed

    The problem is the majority of Muslims in America were very silent after the attacks on 9/11. There was no outrage, there was no condemnation, and very few if any tears for fallen countrymen. It was as if the Muslim community was waiting to see if they should be upset or cheering. Appearances on TV by Muslim clerics claiming "We had this coming" didn't help much either. I won't lie to you, as a Christian I am very distrustful of all Muslims. Your actions as a whole, and as a community have been terribly anemic when it comes to condeming and fighting against radical fascist Islam. Until we see Muslims in America and abroad stand up, unequivocably condemn Bin Laden as a murder, and start exposing radical elements within your own mosques you can expect very little trust from the rest of the nation any time soon.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  22. Joe

    Islam wasn’t hijacked, it was simply taken to it logical conclusion, as set forth in the Koran. The men who committed the atrocities of September 11 were certainly not "cowards," as they were repeatedly described in the Western media, nor were they lunatics in any ordinary sense. They were men of faith—perfect faith, as it turns out — and this, it must finally be acknowledged, is a terrible thing to be.

    The rise of Islamic fundamentalism is only a problem because the fundamentals of Islam are a problem. A rise of Jain fundamentalism would endanger no one. In fact, the uncontrollable spread of Jainism throughout the world would improve our situation immensely. We would lose more of our crops to pests, perhaps (observant Jains generally will not kill anything, including insects), but we would not find ourselves surrounded by suicidal terrorists or by a civilization that widely condones their actions.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  23. AK

    My only question would be why no Fatwa released against Osama after 9/11 in US?

    All the Muslim religious institutions in U.S should codemn his act!!!!

    September 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm |
  24. michele himmel

    Hijack your religion? Do you even know your religions violent history? Convert, pay tribute or die religion? Kill the infidel, Jew and people of the book religion? Your religion wasn`t hijacked that day.......merely exposed for what it truly is. All we are seeing today is a revival of it`s original roots.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  25. Rationalize, Phoenix, AZ

    That was very interesting piece. I have studied several religions like Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. I have travelled extensively and lived in India. I became big fan of Mahatma Gandhi after visiting his montessories. Instead of calling myself a Christian, I would prefer to call myself a follower of Christ. The current so called Christianity is being convoluted by historical figures like Constantine and to some extent British throne. Don't get me wrong, lot of good has been done by Christian missionaries/nuns around the world. Selfless attitude of some of the great men/women have touched millions of people around the world. IMHO if world can just learn to say/practice one lesson i.e. I am no better than others then this world would be a better place. If you know something more than others that does not mean you are better than the other person. Just thank God for that knowledge. Christ commanded people to make disciples, not Christians. If one claims to be the disciple of Christ, then he/she needs to follow basic commandments like "love your neighbor as yourself". People should be able to see Christ in you. I would advocate same thing for Islam followers. Hinduism by default is not practiced for proselythize people but some militants groups (right wing Hindu outfits) in India have started to misuse for political/power purposes and when such things start to happen, you will see polarization among the followers. The religion which evolved from many cultures (like Aryans, Dravidian ..) as a way of life is being given a form which does not exist in their religious background and books.

    My message is that treat others as you would like to be treated. Despite all the differences we have, without a doubt I can say that America is the best place to live and Americans know how to give. On this day, my tribute and respect to all our men/women in uniform protecting our country. God bless.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  26. a skeptic

    I can't argue with your obvious sincerity and have no doubt that there are others like you. However, a few points of clarification:
    1) Islam _is_ a religion that, in and of itself, promotes violence against any and all non-believers. I refer you to the writings in the Quran itself, as well as to former native-born Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali, specifically her book "Infidel" wherein she makes it very clear that the fault is not that of a handful of radicals but of the faith itself.
    2) While Albert Einstein may have genuinely held a pacifist position, he was a key figure in the Manhattan Project, which gave the US the atomic bomb and was later used to take the lives of many, many innocent persons. Despite the fact that the case can well be made that we needed the A-bomb and its use _may_ have averted the loss of significantly more life, killing is killing, and we need to consider Einstein's "pacifist" position an arguable one.
    3) Personally, I will not soon forget the images of Muslims rejoicing in the streets at America's pain on September 11, 2001. Most Americans will well remember the joy and/or indifference of a majority of Muslims. If there was some other Islam that day, I did not see it.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  27. VS

    The piece probably reflects the feelings of many co-followers of Muslim faith. But unfortunately it has not become their voice. Just not yet – and hopefully will gain momentum.

    I am not a follower of Islam and admit that I have a limited knowledge of its real teachings. But as a follower of another faith, I believe that if Islam is considered a religion it must be teaching love, compassion, tolerance, respect among humans of all stripes, acceptance of all religions and faiths, selflessness, non-violence, a civilized and enlightened way to lead life etc. That's what my faith teaches me. Call it human faith.

    Mahatma Gandhi was not only able to recognize this, he actually put these virtues into his life. Despite being born in a Hindu family and a practioner of this faith until his assassination, he never put religion above humanity. He had pride in being a Hindu, but never identified himself just as a Hindu.

    This is what I find missing in the followers of Islam. They identify themselves too much as Muslims – from individuals to nations. Self-dignity is one thing, self-obsession quite another. Religion is for the good of humans, not humans for the good of religion.

    The human faith. Incidents of recent past unfortunately linked to followers of Muslim faith have shaken that faith in the teachings of Islam. Indeed Islam's been hijacked.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  28. Mohamed

    Well written article. No harm at adding humor and movie references, gives it a true perspective. I still wonder what the hell was Osama's pupose of destroying buildings and innocent lives both in the USA and the US Embassy in Kenya. It is sad but just like a serial killer has really no motives, so does Osama and his followers. Just mental issues is what I think he has but just really terrible mental issues. Unfortunately he has dragged Islam into his acts and it is sad that religious extremism through wahabbism and the talibans as representatives of religion have sided with his unknown mentally disturbed purposes.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  29. Duane, Stroud, Oklahoma (from BC Canada)

    I read the article and all the comments. Nearly all were serious, intelligent and inspiring. What a pleasure to read a blog like that after so many others with their hate, biases and ignorant ranting. Thank the writer and all you bloggers for keeping it civil and helpful. As regards the point of the writer I support you and look for more people like you. We need you to be the vocal majority (or minority as the case may be). Good material, well written, absolutely dead on. What the public needs to see.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  30. January24

    To the author,

    Thank you and may many Muslims join your campaign.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  31. michele himmel

    Hijack your religion? Do you even know your religions violent history? Convert, pay tribute or die religion? Kill the infidel, Jew and people of the book religion? Your religion wasn`t hijacked that day.......merely exposed for what it truly is.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  32. Angela

    Thank you for your eloquent words. I am of mixed ancestry, my mother is Jewish and my father is Irish Catholic, and there are many races and religions represented in my family, white, black, brown, yellow, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu. I know that as a family, we come together in respect, celebration, and love. I think that if we as a family can do it, then the world can.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  33. Marc M

    I have little sympathy for your situation honestly.

    Your religion, as much as most muslims deny it, is based upon extreme intolerance and violence towards those who do not follow your faith.

    You can say all you like that only "extremists" feel that way but that doesn't really change the text of your holy books nor the acts and words of the high ranking religious officials for your religion.

    Perhaps it's time to break away and make a new religion, one that draws the positive fundamentals from Islam and their writings and remove the parts that these extremist lunatics use as their excuse to do what they do.

    Only once they are removed and you can honestly sit back and say – I am not associated with them – will your religion ever have it's followers looked at in a different light.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  34. Russ in NJ

    Interesting column. If the "peaceful Muslim majority" wants to get off the blacklist, perhaps it should do its part in shutting down religious schools and mosques where inciteful rhetoric is preached. Perhaps the "peaceful Muslim majority" should imprison and punish clerics and religious leaders who are promoting jihad and violence, instead of stoning 14 yr old girls who were raped. Perhaps the "peaceful Muslim majority" should get off it's a** and do something about the violent extremist Muslim minority if it wants it's religion back.

    I'm sorry you and your fellow "peaceful Muslim majority" are having a tough time dealing with all the criticism, hateful looks, preudice, and other wrongs by the mostly Christian American nation. Just remember that the extremist Christian factions throughout the world never flew a plane into Mecca or Dubai. The extremist Jewish factions never sent suicide bombers into neighborhoods filled with innocent children and killed scores of people.

    I keep hearing about how Islam is a religion of peace from the "peaceful, (albeit Silent) Muslim majority". Until Muslims call and act upon other Muslims to stop the violence, I will continue to think twice about shaking your hand, getting in your cab, doing business in your stores, and befriending you. Call me a bigot, or a racist, or anything else you'd like. The onus is on the peaceful Muslim majority to prove us wrong.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  35. Raj

    I'm also Indian and had many muslim acquaintances tell me how America deserved the attacks at the time. Westerners just don't understand how the rest of the world thinks, Muslim or otherwise. Ghandi spoke of peace and enabled the creation of two countries, how wonderfull. Then, these two countries have been involved in bloody conflict ever since. 9/11 was not the start of terrorism, it just made you aware because it was in your soil and not on tv, in some foreign, far away country.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  36. Frank

    Islamic extremists hijacking Islam is no different than evangelicals hijacking Christianity. Thus the war some of us have against a theocratic government here in the US (which unfortunately ebbs and flows with whatever party controls our government). If one wants to do battle with Islamic Extremism, one could do better by starting the fight here with Evangelicalism. That is the greater danger. Personally, I have no problem with Islam – I greatly dislike ALL religions.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  37. Sean

    I find it interesting that muslims in America are always claiming their religion is peaceful. History and the writingsin the Qur'an show different!

    September 11, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  38. infidel

    – What does Islam think of infidels like us?
    – How come there's no Christian church allowed in Saudi Arabia?
    – How come Muhammad said and did so many hateful and violent things, while Jesus never did such a thing?

    September 11, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  39. Vbhai

    Great thinking.

    If world goes "Mahatma Gandhi" way, all problems will be solved without any killing. Martin Luther King followed Mahatma Gandhi way, that shows that "GANDHIgiri" worked in India, South Africa and America, so it can work any any country if they stick to his idea.

    I wish all moderate muslims come out and speak out this way so extrimist voice will be lower than main stream moderate muslims which will convince them that they are not advocate of their religion.

    Let us all together protect this modern civilizatin from extremist groups.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  40. N in MI

    As a born and bred Muslim American, I applaud your article. I am a college freshman and I strongly believe that the challenge for my generation is this: reverse the evils shown my select few extremists. The task, I know, is not an easy one. But millions of other young Muslims like myself are lucky to grow up in a country where our voices can be heard and our views taken with an open mind. Islam is a beautiful religion and America is a wonderful country. I know that these two things can one day go hand in hand without the word "terrorism" being mentioned. Also, I assure you that these extremists are not even considered Muslim because it says in the Quran that a person is not to kill anyone, much less innocent victims. I wish these brainless people wouldn't ruin everything for the rest of us. After 9-11 many Muslim teens are left to ponder on how to clean up the mess left by others. Well, we are getting there, one step at a time.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  41. Hassan

    nicely said my friend...to answer "George" and a common thought/question; it is not that most Muslims are silent to the evil actions of such terrorists as Bin Laden, thus obviously approving it, but rather their outcry and condemnation is mainly ignored by the Western media; and only the negatives of the Muslim community are mainly portrayed in the media. An example would be the piece the media showed on 9/11 when a bunch of Palestinians (well, so they were said to be) were handing out sweets on the street. Yet they totally ignored or minimized at best the lighting of candles for the victims of 9/11 by such people as Iranians in Iran (not the Iranian government, but the people of Iran).

    September 11, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  42. Vivek

    I feel the same way about America. Used to love it, used to feel patriotic, but the Republicans have spilled too much innocent blood, lied about it, and blatantly alienated me. And no one did anything about it.

    We should dissolve the Union, for the good of humanity.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  43. Jackie in Dallas

    Peace. What a concept. It is a concept espoused by every religion around the world, yet is the most elusive to put into action. As someone who has also read the Bible (the Catholic version, the Protestant version, and many different translations), the Q'uran, the Torah, as well as the holy books of many other faiths of this varied and magnificent world, I've always made an effort to look for how they are similar, not for how they are different. Mankind - and womankind as well - needs more voices like the author's. More people looking for peaceful ways to resolve our differences, more people looking for ways to bring us together. We are running out of time to resolve global issues in the environment, terrorism, disease, and hatred.

    Thank you, Arsalan, for your commitment, your clear vision, and your courage.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  44. Jacob

    Great article. Alot of Americans feel for you. We had our government and foreign policy hijacked by the GOP fear-mongers and now they're trying for 4 more years.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  45. Check yourself

    C'mon now. Doesn't anybody else see how self-serving this guy is? He's managed to turn himself from a second-year law student (I've been there as a black student, it's not fun) into someone who's getting cast in movies, hob-knobbing with Bono and appearing on TV shows. How many bombs has he stopped? It's an interesting read, but please don't turn this guy into the messiah. Better to follow Gandhi, MLK or your average U.S. soldier, who are really putting it on the line.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  46. Jeffrey Root

    This goes to show that we should judge people individually not as a group.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  47. Nauman Pirzada

    Excellent article. 9/11 has changed the way we (Muslims) live in this great country. I can never forget that day. I was a first year medical resident rotating in a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. I entered a patient’s room and saw horrible scenes of WTC on fire on the television. I was in a state of disbelief when the patient (a veteran) said in anger, "You Muslims did all this" (I was taking care of him for the last couple of days and he know I am a Muslim). That moment I knew my life is changed for ever in this country. I just want to state this to every one that Islam is a religion of peace, any person who believes in true teachings of Islam knows that killing innocent people is wrong and forbidden under any circumstances and OBL is a terrorist who is using a peaceful religion to propagate his terrorist agenda and we all Muslims strongly condemn that. Last thing, we all love this country as much as any one else as this is the greatest and the only country in the world which gives every person opportunity to touch the sky without considering his/her race or religion.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  48. american muslim

    May God (Allah) bless you and your efforts.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:14 pm |
  49. hasan shah

    Yes, muslims all around the world have been looked upon funny, strange, involved and most of all as supporters of 9/11. But the truth of the matter is that, there are millions of muslims who do not follow these radical beleifs at all. infact, the 5% of the rotten apples give the remianing 95% a bad name. In my state (maryland) alone, there are so many of us practicing muslims who have been born here or became US citizens and live the American Dream. we work hard, love our neighbor at home & work. and do the right thing, but when we go home and watch TV, we see that it was a muslim who did this and a muslim who did this. I only ask the media for one thing, and that is to portray some good muslims as well, with each horrible bad muslim news. why cant they do an expose on a typical US-muslim family who practices Islam and works, play soccer, loves DVD's and pays Zakat, fasts, gives to charity, cuts the neighbors lawn, and all the other things normal people do. My co-workers all know i am fasting, so they crack jokes and make me feel good and most of all they know who i am. May Allah bless the USA and all its people; muslims, christians, jews and all others. Part of the reasons why we fast is so we can truly say; "i know what they go through in Somali, Rowanda, Nigeria, Bangladesh" by not eating during the day we thank God, for when we can eat.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:13 pm |
  50. Dave

    This article has made my day. With my experiences in the U.S. military, and going over our future plans, this article has most certainly warmed my heart. Thank you.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:13 pm |
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