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. Jims Save

    Who would you rather have policing the world? The Russians? Maybe Chinese? The would needs policing, believe it. In the age of the Atom, someone needs to police the world. I'd rater it be the U.S.A then anyone else. Not saying its right. Not saying The U.S has done the best Job it could or should. But maybe its better then the alternative.

    September 8, 2011 at 5:13 am |
    • Carla

      Jim, agreed. But unlike before, today's USA has too many weird perversion-supporting whites. The whites were a lot more normal when they were outright racist.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:19 am |
    • Carla

      Can't the majority of the white people in USA show respect to the colored people and at the same time still call sins as sins? Why do they support perversion like some mad people?

      September 8, 2011 at 5:22 am |
  2. Albro

    And yet, brutha, we're still having to listen to the 'Persons of Oppressed Ethnicities' sob and whine about slavery 100 YEARS LATER! My own family escaped mass murder in Europe to come here in the early 1900's, but that doesn't free us from the eternal groveling that all of America is expected to do! It doesn't gain us any relief from the P.O.E.'s demanding reparations for slavery, in which my family had NO PART! So, we'll make you a deal, here: YOU STOP WHINING ABOUT SLAVERY, AND WE'LL STOP WHINING ABOUT 9/11!!!!

    September 8, 2011 at 5:11 am |
  3. Jims Save

    This is my Issue with the 99.99% “don’t condone terror” saying. I have seen many videos of thousands of Muslims all over the world chanting death to America burning the stars and stripes in a big square. Are you telling me these people that are participating are your Average Joe Muslim that’s part of the 99.99% Are these people your .01% fanatic?
    Millions of Muslims cry foul when a pastor in Florida wants to burn a copy of the Quran when their own copies just blow up in a mosque by a fellow Muslim. You can’t offend Islam without thousands running to the streets chanting your death. It’s not like theses gatherings are flash mobs planed over a social network.
    Do I believe Muslims need to apologies for 9/11? Hell no. That’s like me apologizing for the invasion of Iraq because I am an American. Even if only .01% are fanatic, that .01% is having 10% or 12% of that 99.99% go into the streets chanting. If the Muslim world really wants to say Islam is peaceful, then it needs to start showing more instead of saying more. Because I bet more people are looking at those videos I mentioned above then your article here.

    September 8, 2011 at 4:28 am |
    • Fatima

      When you see videos of thousands of Muslims chanting death to Americans, that has nothing to do with religion but rather the society they live in. They probably feel like they are mistreated at the hands of Americans and don't try to see the other side, and then blindly hate. It's wrong to just see things from an outside view point or a one sided view point, but is that not what the vast majority of people do on a daily basis? It's just easier to stay blind. And that's why these people allow themselves to have a negative impression of America and let it stick...they don't think about the other side–our side. That has nothing at all to do with religion...so please don't involve religion in it. They just happen to be Muslim.
      As far as the burning of the Quran is concerned, it's ridiculous for one not to understand why it would be upsetting. The Quran stands as the guidance in ones life; the words of God. For someone to disrespect and burn something we love so much, is very hurtful. As far as the idiots who blow up Masjid's. stop associating the poor people who die in the Masjid with those who blow them up. The one's who blow them up obviously are mental fanatics....but even then their mission is never directly to disrepect the Quran...and regardless....whatever they think and act upon should be dismissed, because they obviously are not SANE people. The people who blow up in the Masjids, and the people who are your average Muslim WILL be offended by the disrepect of something so precious to them. I'm not Christian, but if someone went around burning Bibles, I would unquestionably be upset and hurt, because again, the Bible is meant to include God's word, and the Bible is something very precious to many. So, you comparing people blowing up Masjids to those who are hurt by those events/are just average Muslims is ridiculous. Honestly, read over your sentence again and think about how stupid that comparison was.

      September 9, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  4. RightTurnClyde

    It would be better if the author had said that Muslims ought to stop blowing things up 9for openers). He is say they should not apologize. Oh yes they OUGHT to apologize and then they ought to become civilized and STOP doing violence against the rest of the world - it is not OK and it is not even PC. It is an on going crime and we DESERVE at least apology. At the very least ..

    September 8, 2011 at 4:22 am |
  5. ticky

    if you feel muslim as big part of your life then you should at least feel bad for what some of your great influential group has done or has been doing in this world. its same as america bombed somewhere but as an american i shouldnt feel bad.

    September 8, 2011 at 4:21 am |
  6. Mike

    Actually I'm stunned.

    I'm a non-Muslim living in an Islamic country, and I can assure every American, that here in what they call it 'the Muslim World' they almost celebrate 9/11 every year. One man I know had a boy in 2002, and he named him Bin Laden. It's true, Islam is the enemy, don't let any of them deceive you; it's part of their religion, to deceive their enemies until they take them down; this is called Al Taquia / Al kittman in Islam–it's an Islamic practice.

    Fight Islam before it's too late for your children. Take it from us, people living among them in their home countries: they are deceiving you.

    September 8, 2011 at 4:09 am |
    • SpiderCNN

      Dude can have some of what you are smoking?

      September 8, 2011 at 4:15 am |
    • Fatima

      Yeah, can I have some of what you're smoking, too? Actually, it sounds like its bigotry mixed with retardism, so I think I'll pass...

      September 9, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  7. yannaes

    I am renting an apt. from a Dr. of whom is of Arab decent. I have no problem with this, I have not been shot at, mistreated, or any such thing. I see Muslims on the street buying groceries, holding children, do things as my self, a Christian. I smile at them, they smile back, and tell them that their child is cute, they smile, say thank you, and we move on.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  8. Jason

    First off I would like to state taht ORGANIZED religion is the #1 killer of mankind in history. ALL are guilty of it. as a non-religious man myself i have noticed that its a pretty busy street when it comes to religion. i will never push my non-believer views on someone or try to "convince" them that i am right. have your faith. good on you. But it really is just a small minority of these religions (all 3 of the major ones Islam, Judiaism, and Christianity are Abrahamic and call to the same monotheistic God by the way; theyre all just different interpretations of this one God's word: same story of adam and eve and Noah and all) are responsible fo rthese atrocities. Christianity has also been at fault for a few things over the centuries. 4 Crusades, that little Inquisition, and 3 Papal Bulls that condoned and re-condoned slavery of all African and non-Christian peoples are just a few of the big ones. i was born to a catholic family but i dont appologize for that stuff...

    Even as a military member its hard not to fall into that mentality of Jesus good, all others BAD. its not that cut and dry folks. dont jump this writer for stating his opinion of it. he was only a kid when it happened, as was I and now i fight the good fight in Iraq and Afghan against EXTREMISTS NOT A RELIGION!

    September 8, 2011 at 2:34 am |
    • yannaes

      Jason, I am a Christian, and I do not try to "convert" every person I see. I see someone with needs and if I can assist I do. I think that your generalizations are misleading and based on biased and highly prejudicial. I think you may want to look at those that were not religious and see the genocide that took place in: Russia, under Stalin, Pot, in Cambodia, Mao, in China, and I could go on. They like you were not "Religious" so think about your prejudicial remarks. I am not religious I just love Jesus! I am a simple man, with no problem in being simple. Simple works for me.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:50 am |
    • yannaes

      I think you might be a pretty good guy. But, Jason if you are not religious, which I can understand, why do you go to a site with a Religious overtone? I find that puzzling to me. If religion is so negative to you, which I have an understanding of, why are you on this site?

      September 8, 2011 at 2:54 am |
    • Jims Save

      yannaes, Im glad Jason commented here. I don't follow the kardashians in the Entertainment part of CNN. But I have commented on an article about them their before before. Its not about what he may think or what he may say but that fact that he said it. That's the part I feel people don't get. Who cares what someone says or why they said it. The first amendment grants his ability to say it, and also grants your ability to ask why and my ability to put my two cents in. To me all of this is an exchange of Knowledge, the same kind of idea that has brought Humans from farming and foraging thousands of years ago to where we are today. Being able to put my two cents down for everyone to see, is rewarding to me even if no one likes what I have to say; because the fact that I have that right when Millions of others can not, makes me feel good.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:46 am |

      the #1 killer in the history of mankind? more so than war, resources, greed, jealousy? or more than natural disasters? World War 1 had 35 million (yes MILLLION) casualties and I don't think that was about religion. World War 2 had between 60-78 Million dead (yes MILLLION), which religion staked their claim to that one?

      September 8, 2011 at 4:49 am |
  9. Alex

    The official story has many holes in it, you can’t really claim based on that that the Muslims did it. The official story be it a lie/cover-up/whatever, it is wrong. As long they don't do a honest investigation, we will never know who did it, and how and why it happened.

    It's stupid blaming a whole group when only a few did something, it makes it worse blaming someone while not able to be completely sure they did it.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:26 am |
  10. Vicky

    If he doesn't want to apologize or be associated with the 9/11 attacks, I shouldn't have to apologize for the history of slavery in our country.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Alex

      You're right. You shouldn't apologize for something you didn't do. If you have kept or are keeping slaves then you should apologize, because having slaves is a bad thing.

      We are all individuals and only responsible for our own actions, what others do are their responsibility. It's insane feeling guilty about what someone else did, so no need to apologize for something they did, even if it's a sibling of yours.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • Jims Save

      I did not take the land from the Native Americans. So why am I having to pay these people money for it?

      September 8, 2011 at 5:03 am |
    • Albro

      There you go, Vicky! Slavery ended 100 years ago, but we still have the P.O.E.'s (Persons of Oppressed Ethnicity) sobbing and demanding reparations. The 'poor oppressed' black folk have parlayed slavery into a major political power base. The first black president got nominated for the Nobel Prize two weeks into his term. So how about a trade: we drop 9/11 if they drop slavery!

      September 8, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  11. SpiderCNN

    Before blaming muslims or christians or anyone else we have to find out what really happened on 911. We need to provide answers to many legitimate questions about 91, such as: 1) What caused tons of steel used in WTC buildings to literary turn into dust 2) Why WTC 7, after all it was not hit by any planes 3) what did hit pentagon
    4) Why Cheney was commanding NORAD on 911 5) What did hit pentagon 6) Why did cheney ordered complete stand by as the object was approaching pentagon .... and many others ...

    September 8, 2011 at 2:17 am |
  12. Hello

    First, Kevin do not cite Wikipedia as a source it is not credible. Secondly is this writer really comparing Muslims apologizing for 9/11 to Nickleback releasing a new album and Americans apologizing? Get real dude I am not asking you to apologize for something a small group in the Islam religion did. But something you personally need to apologize for is some of the ridiculous statements you have made in this article.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:14 am |
    • HGreen

      I think you failed to read the part where he's a stand up comedian...which explains his approach to the article. All of his examples are logical. The idea of his article was that it is absurd for Muslims to have to apologize for what has been done, just WOULD be absurd for any of the other things stated to be apologized for by anyone other than the person. Instead of pointing fingers and saying "should americans be responsible for the deaths of those in Afghanistan" or something of that nature he lightened the mood and lowered his finger. Dont be so critical and quick to publicly criticize someone expressing their concern; the message is what counts in this one.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:03 am |
  13. Sam I Am

    If you get cancer you will not have to worry about apologizing about the above or not.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  14. TheCoralShark

    Finally! Someone actually goes up and says something about it!!!
    I'd just like to say myself, 9/11 was very tragic. I was really young when it occurred, but I remember the pain in people's eyes. Just the shock, you know. My prayers are with every person affected directly or indirectly by 9/11. It was just like a dent in American History. It was a truly horrific occurrence.
    But I'd also like to add, I do feel like a lot of people have the tendency to blame 9/11 on the entire Muslim community. This is wrong. Do people go around blaming Christians for the Oslo Bombing? No! And what about the Klu Klux Klan attacks on people of other races? You might just as well make the same argument....."HEY! That's not fair! That's a small percentage of the Christian community!"
    Now, doesn't this phrase sound familiar? My point is, there are crazy people in every religion. It's just not right for us to go around labeling entire religions for the acts of dumb people within them. I wish I could just make people understand how hurtful words and actions can really be. Nobody likes to be called a name like "terrorist" or be told that his or her religion (which by the way strictly condemns murder, drugs, alcohol, and harm of any kind both mentally and spiritually) encourages men to kill women and people to kill each other in the name of religion. Just think about it this way: Would you like to be told untruths about your beliefs and told that you're an evil person who likes to go around killing innocent people? And if not, then why go around telling someone something you wouldn't like to hear addressed to yourself? I think we should just all forget about how we can harm others internally and externally because emotional and physical harm never helps anyone. It just makes matters worse for both fighting parties. We, as intelligent human beings, should start using our brains and working things out calmly and peacefully.
    Thank you and Peace be With all of You!!! ☮ ☮ ☮

    September 8, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • Hello

      did you pay attention in history class? at what point in time have humans ever done things calmly and peacefully? II hate to be cynical but come on.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • Laney1025

      You sound so young and innocent which I love! Unlike so many of the "brutalitarians" posting here. I guess an eye for an eye will continue throughout eternity as long as d*ck waving exists. That's really what our cultures (all of them) are all about. Sounds like a bunch of kids with marbles all screaming that they are right and deserve to win and they will fight you to prove it. Maybe when humanity learns (yeah right) that peace and harmony will become the norm when people learn that it doesn't matter who has the bigger d*ck! All conversations like this prove to me is that it's time for the gals to reign in their little male charges who like to play "war" more and more every day. That toddler in their pants makes us all look like fools! Now...if you're smart enough to figure out exactly what I am talking about (yes it's cryptic for a reason) then the universe will open it's doors and welcome you in. Otherwise, you'll just have to play with the kids wearing the "I don't play well with others" t-shirts.

      September 8, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • nat

      thank you! finally some common sense in these comments

      September 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  15. Green Span

    Muslims should not go to America or Europe. They should stay where they are with their Sharia law and "take care" of the infidels.

    September 8, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • Scott

      You sir are a ignorant person!

      September 8, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • Ariyan

      AHAHA hilarous!.....how about the americans all over the world trying to control EVERYONE??! so here's better advice....americans should stay in america

      September 8, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • peaceful

      k then americans just stay in america plz. kthanx

      September 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  16. Jeff

    Sorry Buddy.. one of the 5 pillars of Islam is Jihad aka Holy War. So, you tell me Aman Ali. Which Muslim are you? Sunni or Shiite?

    September 8, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Peace2All


      Interesting... I've never heard of 1 of the 5 pillars of Islam being 'Jihad.'...?

      I understand that there are a small minority of Muslims using the 7 pillars version include 'Jihad', but it has to do with internal 'vice's' and internal struggle. And, anything to do with 'external' struggle is by 'last resort/self-defense.'

      If you have some links that show your assertion, I'd love to read up on them.



      September 8, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Kevin

      sorry buddy no its not http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Pillars_of_Islam you're welcome

      September 8, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Khan

      The five pillar of islam is 1. To say there is one god and prophet mohammed his messenger. 2. Pray 5 time a day
      3. Pay Zakat means Charity 4. Perform Haj the and last is to fast there no such thing jihad in five pillar of islam

      September 8, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • Ariyan

      uh....5 pillars "buddy".....Jihad- NOT one of them!

      September 8, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  17. Caught the Poo, now it's on you!!!

    Yikes, You just got Poo'd on!!! Copy & paste this once to fling your Poo onto someone else. Follow the POO TRAIN!!!!!
    September 8, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse | Reply

    September 8, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  18. Millard Falmore IV

    All you sneaky moosejabs need to go back home and learn to control yourselves. Just look over to the Middle East and look at all you all dancing around the streets looking like a bunch of clowns when cars blow up and terrorism strikes. Either the Middle East coincidentally happens to be the most cendensed location of the crazy people (doubtful), or your religion is seriously screwed up. I'll go with the latter.

    Israel atleast allows their citizens freedom and seek peace if only they would be left alone. You all want to destroy them along with yourselves. CAN'T EVEN NOT KILL YOUR OWN KIND.

    C'mon mannnnnnnnnnn

    September 8, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  19. Ted Wilson

    Condemning "terrorism" isn't making an apology. I haven't heard any apologies. I've only heard some sort of posed condemnations of terrorism. I don't think I've heard any Saudi salafists say "oh my God, I'm so sorry for what happened on 9-11. That was absolutely horrible and will never happen again if we have anything to say about it. How embarrassing and evil!" Just sayin'...

    September 8, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Ryan

      That's because you weren't listening when the apologies came from everywhere. You were listening to Fox, where they were asking, "Where are the moderate Muslims?" They were condemning the atrocities committed by Osama. You weren't interested in hearing them, though.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  20. Poo Fling

    Yikes, You just got Poo'd on!!! Copy & paste this once to fling your Poo onto someone else. Follow the POO TRAIN!!!!!

    September 8, 2011 at 1:09 am |
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About this blog

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.