February 2nd, 2009
01:48 PM ET

Muslims speaking up for Islam and peace

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/01/29/syed.obama/art.syed.jpg caption="Nafees Syed, a Muslim college student, says President Obama's early words and actions send a powerful, positive signal to Muslims."]

Eboo Patel
Washington Post

Many things were lost on 9/11 – three thousand lives, a nation's innocence and the fiction within the American Muslim community that it could live in this country without having to tell the broader society much about its traditions (the African-American Muslim community is an important exception to this).

After getting over the shock of the sheer horror of 9/11, after mourning the victims of the attacks, American Muslims realized that Osama bin Laden had just taught Americans his version of Islam 101. And because Americans were largely ignorant of this 1400-year-old faith of over a billion people, many believed it. 9/11 taught American Muslims a crucial lesson: if there is a vacuum out there about something important, and you don't fill it, someone else will.

To their credit, Muslims in America and elsewhere have been very busy since 9/11, as an important new report from the United States Institute of Peace highlights. It states, "Violent extremists are on one edge of the Muslim community, but they are counterbalanced by a growing movement of Muslim peacemakers."

The paper first and foremost debunks the falsehood that Muslim leaders have not spoken out against terrorism, pointing out that 13 American Muslim organizations issued a statement immediately after 9/11 that said: "Holding to the ideals of both our religion and our country, we condemn all forms of terrorism, and confirm the need for perpetrators of any such acts of violence to be brought to justice." It lists several other such statements from Muslim organizations around the world.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Eboo Patel • Islam • Religion
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    @ Mike in Syracuse....... your comment is interesting but you missed a very important point: WE ALSO HAVE TO TALK TO THE MUSLIMS.

    For the last eight years, Bush & Co., have demonized the Muslims. President Obama, was the FIRST President in our Nation's history to mention in his inaugural speech that we are "Muslims, Christians, Jews & unbelievers."

    The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful people! But the USA has not wanted to TALK to them until NOW.

    We can condemn the behavior all we want, but what is needed is dialogue, a conversation to seek common ground.

    Let's not forget that there are millions of Muslims in our Nation, and they are American, too!

    February 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  2. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Next to the 9/11 attack itself, the reaction in the Muslim world caused as much anger. I still remember the celebrations in the street by Muslims around the world. I see no counterbalance of Muslim peace efforts to this day. The recent attack in Mumbai was met with a resounding silence from the Muslim world. It takes a lot more than a few statements from Muslim-American organizations. It is truly unfortunate that President Obama didn't use his recent interview to reinforce the need for the supposedly peaceful Muslim majority to speak out loud and strong against the terrorists. Instead he chose to apologize for past American disrespect. Well, respect must be earned. You can't harbor terrorists in your midst and have our respect. You can't remain silent when innocent people are killed and have our respect. I'm afraid the Muslim tradition of protecting their own no matter what wrong they have done seems to be the prevalent mode of operation. There are one billion Muslims. Where is their voice against the acts of terror? Why just a smattering of statements? Where is the action? Silence implies concurrence.

    February 2, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  3. Michael "C"Lorton, Virginia

    Most Americans understand that the actions of a few radical terrorist doesn't reflect the Muslim world as a whole-–their is good and bad in every culture--and terrorist's actions by any ethnic or religious group-well let say that it fills vacuum with unfavorable content--unless it counterbalanced by peeacemakers-–We can't change the culture-–but we must condemn the behavior-–and this will always be an evolutionary process.

    February 2, 2009 at 2:11 pm |