My Take: Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11
Muslims praying last month in Los Angeles, California, at the end of Ramadan.
September 7th, 2011
12:11 PM ET

My Take: Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11

Editor’s note: Aman Ali is a New York-based writer, stand-up comedian and the co-creator of 30 Mosques in 30 Days, a Ramadan road trip across America.

By Aman Ali, Special to CNN

New York (CNN) - As a Muslim, I’m sick of people asking me how I feel about 9/11. What do you want me to say, seriously?

Do you want me to say, “It was a great plan, mwahahaha!” before I fly off on a magic carpet?

I was born and raised in this country and was just as shocked as everyone else to learn there were people on this earth so vile as to commit such a horrific attack - or to even think about doing it.

But I didn’t do it. Neither did 99.999999999 percent of the roughly 1.5 billion people in the world who also call themselves Muslims. So why should I or any other Muslim apologize for what happened?

Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that?

Just like Christianity and Judaism, Islam unequivocally condemns terrorism. Don’t take it from me, though. Grab a copy of the Quran from a library and find out for yourself.

Don’t rely on some cherry-picked crackpot interpretation of the Muslim holy book that you read on some Islamophobic hack’s poorly designed website. Speaking of which, Islamophobes need to put down the Quran and pick up a book on HTML programming and Flash.

When 9/11 happened, I can understand why the average person would want to know what Muslims actually believe. After all, the terrorists claimed they were acting in the name of Islam.

That’s why hundreds of Islamic organizations around the globe condemned the attacks and told the truth about how Islam doesn’t condone terrorism whatsoever.

But that was 10 years ago. Why are mainstream American Islamic groups like the Islamic Society of North America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council still condemning the attacks and just about any other act of terrorism that pops up in the news?

Weren’t we clear before how we feel about terrorism? If people didn’t understand us for the past 10 years, what makes Muslims think they’re going to understand us now?

If I have to explain 10 times to my little brother how to operate the toaster in my apartment, that’s not my fault because of inadequate messaging. It’s my brother’s fault that he’s dumb.

It’s ridiculous for Muslims to continuously condemn and apologize for stuff when every religion has their fair share of crazies.

Imagine you’re in the habit of partying with a group of friends. And every party you go to, there's a friend in your crew that spills grape juice on the carpet - the really awesome kind of grape juice that’s in the fancy wine bottles (we Muslims don’t drink alcohol but we still can party like ballers).

How would you feel if people stopped inviting you to their parties because your one friend kept spilling grape juice? That's how I feel. I'm really annoyed I have to keep apologizing or condemning Muslim extremists that keep spilling their grape juice of hate on the world.

Dictionary.com defines the word apologize as “to offer an apology or excuse for some fault insult, failure, or injury.”

When 9/11 happened, I was 16 years old and playing Tetris during English class on my TI-83 calculator. I’ll apologize for not paying attention to Mrs. Fulton’s lecture at my high school in Gahanna, Ohio, but that’s about it.

Just because people hundreds of miles away claimed they were Muslim and committed a terrible act doesn’t mean I should apologize for it.

Mike Tyson started sucking really bad in the boxing ring after he converted to Islam. Should I apologize for that? Oh, and I think I saw a few Muslim-sounding names in the production credits for the movie “Green Lantern.” I guess I should apologize for that, too.

I’m not trying to be insensitive about 9/11. Of course my prayers and sentiments are with anyone affected by the tragedy. The same goes for any act of terrorism.

But I’m not going to apologize or condemn them because I don’t need to prove my patriotism with some kind of McCarthyite litmus test. The Pew Research Center released a study last week that found that Muslim Americans are far more pleased with how things are going in the United States (56%) than is the general public (23%).

That finding is not going to provoke me to question the general public’s patriotism. But please stop questioning ours.

The 9/11 attacks were a terrible tragedy that changed all of our lives. There’s no way we can ever forget what happened.

But what we Muslims can do is advance the conversation, rather than repeating the same old condemnations. Condemnations and apologies are like an out of style fashion trend, the parachute pants and neon hair scrunchies of civil discourse.

What Muslims need is an extreme makeover. Now that’s some extremism I can get behind.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Aman Ali.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Islam • Opinion

soundoff (2,556 Responses)
  1. Matt

    I believe that only countries(European Space Agency included) that are involved in the international space station should be allowed to dictate the fate of humanity. The majority of you silly primates run around slinging your feces at each other in an attempt to see who can defy death best. Another portion tries to make decisions about what direction to take, all the while still attached to the umbilical of their ignorant birth rites.
    That being said, If anybody wants to take sides and go pony-up and feel like their making a difference, hey that options available. Its actually a little scary to think how easy it is to get in a fight for life and death nowadays. But so long as we folks continue typing away at our keyboards, happily playing in the fields of 1's and 0's that these so called "news agencies" provide., well never get things fixed. Bet. We are all no better then the school children yapping away in homeroom as the teacher watches, eagerly waiting to start class.
    I believe in the fact that some people are meant to lead, and some people are meant to follow. And this transcends all race and belief systems. Man rules man while on this earth. I don't understand why civility and collaboration are not the order of business in these little "boxing rings" of the internet.

    September 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • St1ngR

      Only nations capable of sending a astronaut in space should dictate the fate of the world? You might remember the first two nations to do so almost brought it to the brink of destruction. Maybe when nations stop trying to dominate and oppress each other we can have some semblance of sanity and peace.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  2. Aristocles

    If 99.99999% of the world's Muslims were against 9/11, there would not have been celebrations in the streets on 9/11 in many Islamic countries. Of course, similar celebrations erupted at random in the USA when Bin Laden died, so the US isn't totally clean from this either.

    September 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Joe

      You cannot equate celebrations in the Middle East when thousands of innocent civilians were murdered to celebrating when justice was finally served on the terrorist mastermind behind those murders.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • St1ngR

      @Aristocles, thanks for completely ignoring all those Muslim people and governments that condemned the attacks, who make up the vast, vast majority.
      @Joe, you mean the the guy who never claimed responsibility for the attacks but who was killed before any of us could learn the truth.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Joseph

      You need to READ more carefully, my friend. His words were, "But I didn’t do it. Neither did 99.999999999 percent of the roughly 1.5 billion people in the world who also call themselves Muslims". THEY DIDN'T DO IT... He didn't say 99% were AGAINST it. Just like bin Laden's death.. 99% of Americans weren't involved in his killing, but I bet quite a few of those were glad he was gone.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • St1ngR

      @Joseph, they didn't do it and they didn't religiously support it. How many American's were against the illegal Iraq war? How many supported it? How many were directly involved in it? Now throw your dubious, self-righteous comparisons out the window.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Joseph

      St1ngR, your response to me makes no sense because I was commenting toward Aristocles (the original poster). You are basically regurgitating what I said, then going on about an "illegal" war in Iraq which I didn't even talk about.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Muslims have not butchered any body like you westerners have butchered Jews

      But you can definitely compare the celebration in west when millions of Iraqis were being butchered by Western Nazis.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  3. marc

    Why do whites keep posting about Nickleback is their music racist or something?

    September 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Sam

      haha no, it's worse than racist, it's flat out terrible, i don't mind listening to something racist (kidding) if the lead singer's voice isn't monotone and there is some rock n roll involved, but with Nickelback you get neither.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm |


    September 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • america45

      so right, now only if the rest of the world could understand this as well.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Therre

      Here's something: I had nothing to do with the Christian mythological creatures Adam and Eve and whatever they may or may not have done in some allegorical fantasy-world. Kapish?
      Neither have I done anything to any non-existent being, such as the many and varied magical beings who only appear in stories and never real life...
      So why should I respect any false idea based on a false premise or give any credence to such nonsense and the resulting mystical clusterf–ck of interpretive schizophrenic manifestations of any religious belief system?
      Why would I allow these fevered imaginings to inflict their psychotic tendencies upon me or anyone else who did not give express permission for them to do so?
      Religion, the stylized and ritualistic reinforcement of fake beliefs on a person's psyche, should have no place in the governance of any society, for it has no credence or relevance to real world situations.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  5. Maggie

    "Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that?" ..... Is that not racist? No, you personally did not commit the 9/11 attacks, & shouldn't have to apologize personally or on behalf of your fellow Muslims, but at the same time, your sentiment should be one of sympathy, prayer & condolences for those who died & their family & friends. Unfortunately, many of us are not seeing that here with you & don't see that in many Muslim people. May God (the Living God, Jesus Christ, the only One who died to save all people) change your heart.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • marc

      Why do whites keep posting that about Nickleback is that a racist music band?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • armorlol

      Maggie – "I’m not trying to be insensitive about 9/11. Of course my prayers and sentiments are with anyone affected by the tragedy."
      Every major Muslim organization in North America has condemned the attacks and sent condolences. If you knew the kind of harassment and discrimination Muslims in America get for 9/11 you would understand what the author is talking about. Its like a white person saying blacks pre-Civil Rights movement (or even after it) didn't have a hell of a time living their lives. Until you're on the other end of the stick, or closely know someone who is, you'll never know what its like.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • sam

      marc, how the hell can you tell it's 'whites' posting about it?

      September 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  6. CNNIslam

    And another pro-Islam, don't blame us article from CNN. This is ridiculous. The "Radical" muslims are those that actually follow what the Qur'an says. Just because some patriots with poor web skills point this out doesn't mean they should be disregarded. Read the Qur'an and when you are fully disgusted at what is written in it, tell Aman Ali where to stick it.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • Imbecile Airlines "Where morons fly for free"

      Welcome aboard!

      September 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  7. marc

    I think if anybody needs a true public apology it's the American Indians the white man nearly erased their entire race.The Blacks are fine, one of them even became the first non-white to become President of the United States so they can really say the last laugh is at you. White people apologize to the red man...

    September 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • sam

      Cannot tell if trolling or just stupid...

      September 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Joseph

      I agree.. So all you white men out here who ever killed a native american, raise your hand and apologize... Thank you.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  8. T Hoss

    And, finally, all Catholics should be on their knees apologizing to children around the world for the horrors inflicted upon them by your clergymen.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • armorlol


      September 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Really?

      are you searching for an appology T Hoss?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Joseph

      Don't forgot teachers, for the same conduct that those priests did but with their students. Oh, and police for all the police brutality. Ahh.. and can't forget the troops.. you know, that whole prisoner abuse scandal. Probably want to have all financial and real estate brokers apologize for the housing bubble collapse and while were at it, might as well throw in all politicians for.. well.. anything you want to pick really. And then of course there's you, T Hoss, perhaps you should apologize for all the other posters that seem to be intellectually challenged with their hate filled dribble.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  9. Really?

    Muslims NEVER did apologize but that is NOT the problem. Muslims NEVER came out to CONDEM the 9/11 attack – THAT is the problem. The other 99.999999999, as YOU put it Mr. Writer, just kept your mouths shut like you were too scared of your own kind to say anything or you would be the next to die – or like you just did not care. SHOW ME Muslims chanting AGAINST Al Qaeda for once, or take this article and shove it.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • T Hoss

      He did. He listed several organizations that do that. If you were too hard headed to look them up, it's your problem.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • armorlol

      every major Islamic agency and organization in America (where I live) has condemned 9/11. It never gets on the news but does that mean they never condemned it?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • CNNIslam

      And many of those listed also support Jihad, think Israel does not have a right to exist and believe the United States will fall under Sharia law. Watch the third Jihad on Netflix. It is done by a Muslim American who exposes many of the leaders of the so called "Moderate" Muslim groups. Crazy...

      September 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  10. T Hoss

    If us Muslim's need to apologize for what "we" did to "you," then all Christians should apologize for what "they" did to African slaves. All Christians should apologize for what they did to Norway by the Christian Brevlik.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Really?

      Christians have been appologizing for crimes with thier hearts, works and money for YEARS – what hole do you live in.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Al

      @ Really?

      Right...they sure have. What a wonderful group of people. Some of the worst racism in the U.S. is in the south. The Bible belt. The Christian homeland. The South used scripture from the Bible to argue for the continuation of slavery. Who has been in a hole?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  11. riiight

    I want no apology..I don't like the way your pople respond in an emergency(they don't)..I don't like your good book...I don't like the way you treat your women...I don't like who you are recruiting in our country!All of the countries with prdominently poor have nots use this religeon to oppress so many poor mf..yet..country after country wants DEMOCRACY like US?!?!?As
    our rank and file of Mexican black and other minorites become a majority we see this country to hell in a handbasket.Any president with a brain would have a ALREADY secured our borders at least!Personallly...i think he's muslim as well!So Mr. Whiner man...I have to say shove your apology!!

    September 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • T Hoss


      September 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  12. disjustin

    You are absolutely Right on the Money. I was apart of the 9/11 experience and All Americans were affected. Apologizing for An Extremist actions because you are both Muslims is insincere. Its like me apologizing for being Black, or Gay, or Christian? As a naturalize American, should I denounce my birth country. Having Empathy and Sympathy, is the best form of apology. Patriotic and Nationalism, all his its place, but anyone can take something good and use if for something bad; now if the reverse was true, there would be no need for this conversation, or your article about this topic. Tragedy and Terrorism is a world evil that affects everyone on the planet. What we do to combat this global evil starts at home and in the community.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • T Hoss

      that was a great post. Thanks for your sanity.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  13. Jrock

    any religion when taken to the extreme can be dangerous. Why should the entire Muslim population apologize for a few extremely dangerous members? That's like the Catholics apologizing for Bloody Mary....

    September 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  14. Sam I Am

    If you kill yourself you won't have to apologize anymore and we will not have to read your garbage.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Dan

      You sir don't have to read or write anything, unless somehow muslims are forcing you to read this blog and then comment on it, which i wouldn't be surprised to hear teabaggers like yourself claim to be the case.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  15. Kat

    Fundi Christians fund and arm Israeli atrocities publically in the name of the New Testicles lies and do not apologize for it.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  16. Kat

    Fundi Christians forge evidence from their "heavenly father" to start wars and kill and make homeless millions of people, nowadays

    September 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  17. Yipes

    My brother quotes the Quran and kills and I Quote the Quran and apologize. Nice game.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Dan

      your brother quotes the bible and enslaves and kills 5 million jews and colonizes millions more, you quote the bible and magically all of your sins vanish and are forever saved.

      Now that's the game I rather play!

      September 7, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  18. Evouh

    Sir, the only thing I don't understand is to go on and on about how you shouldn't apologize. MOST of us know that it had nothing to do with you or fellow Muslims. A few bags eggs do not speak for the entire country.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • ep

      It just doesn't feel like most people know that, especially here in Texas, where there's been more than one occasion grown men have made fun of or harassed Muslim women..behind their back and to their face both..

      September 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  19. JMAN

    Quran 4:89: "They (infidels) desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper."

    Quran 8:12: "Instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers;"

    Quran 2:191: "... kill the disbelievers wherever we find them …"

    September 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • armorlol

      dont take things out of context, i can take passages from ANY holy book and make it seem like a violent religion

      September 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • CNNIslam

      Read the context, the Qur'an gets much worse...

      September 7, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • I can Read

      Clearly, you have no concept of holy texts and how the can be taken out of context to promote evil.

      Read you idiot, a paragraph from the most famous holy text that calls for the murder of all non christians

      (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

      If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • rubymoon1

      I can find many more violent verses in the Bible.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • CNNIslam

      @I can Read

      Your ignorance of biblical history is showing through. The verses in Deuteronomy have nothing to do with Christians. Christians do not live under the Old Testament laws, hence the name "Old Testament". Any ways, the Old Testament, also called the Torah, IS followed by Muslims, so your point is mute.

      Learn some biblical history before trying to argue with people about religious topics.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  20. Dc mortimer

    Would the real Islam please stand up then I'll be happy .

    September 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • america45

      wooohoooo finally someone with a proper head on their shoulders

      September 7, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.