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. A White Guy

    We apologize for Nickleback.

    September 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Agreed

      and Staind, and professional wrestling, and the crusades, and baconaise...maybe not in that order

      September 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Daniel

      What about Nascar?

      September 10, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Sabrina G

      =) Hey, they are not THAT bad!

      September 10, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  2. Yo

    I love the "you fundi Christian" and " you extremist muslim" chatter goin on,.. it just goes to show we are just as segregated as we've always been,. we've got no hope of standing together against anything at this rate, maybe that's the plan,..... ? Nah,.that's silly.. LOL. I'm half native american,. I can't even walk around in my own country without getting a look from someone,. natives are lookin at me funny cause I'm half white,. whites are lookin' at me funny cause I'm half native,. it's like everyone has something to prove to someone else. There's extremists on all sides,. they are wired wrong,.. crazy,...but who made them that way,..regular people,. no....the way of life we lead or they lead,. no,. that's thier excuse isn't it?,. it's a power struggle between extremists on all sides,. it doesn't matter who you are for,. as long as you are fightin' someone,. that's what they want,...

    September 9, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Rami

      Thanks for your very well written comment. I agree that hatred just brings forth Mutually Assured Destruction worse than what nuclear weapons can do. If I kill someone because of hatred than that side would want vengeance and the cycle will keep on repeating until all that's left is sadness

      September 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • chuckmartel

      rami and koko, if you could read and count you would notice that muslims are in the news for blowing up muslims everyday in muslim countries and trying to blow up people in the western countries dumb enough to take them in. Soeties they suceed (9/11, madrid, ....) They are responsible for more terrorist attacks and incidents than all other nuts combined. Only muslims have this claim to fame. Don't apologize, just leave and go to your muzzie sewers. You are animals with no concept of right and wrong and don't belong here.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  3. Rami


    Hey you know what? Go ahead and believe what you want about my religion but I know what I believe in. Muslims founded one of the greatest empires. Ever heard of the dark ages? Yeah...when Christians were busy killing women because they thought they were "witches" Muslims invented Algebra and made breakthroughs in astronomy, medicine, and founded the first university and the first hospital. You should try reading instead of talking BS: http://articles.cnn.com/2010-01-29/world/muslim.inventions_1_hassani-inventions-muslim?_s=PM:WORLD

    By the way, I'm kind of curious. What is your profession other than hating people? I believe a man's accomplishments says everything about one's character.

    September 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Sam I am

      Yea, we see the great empire every day on TV. The Empire National Flower is the plastic bag blowing in the wind around the squalor of the followers of the Pedephile Mohammed. For a picture of Mohammed go to whitehouse dot com .

      September 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Rami

      @Sam I am:

      Ah, I knew that was coming. The old Prophet Mohammed was a pedophile eh? I bet you feel real smart right now thinking you won an argument by simply stating that as a fact. Let me guess: you read that on some anti-muslim website and without further understanding how that marriage came about and if I reply with reasons of why you are wrong then you're just going to ignore it, right? Let me know when I'm wrong.

      By the way, Mary was about 12 years old when she gave birth to Jesus. Seeing how you believe that God would actually make himself human, are you saying god is twisted minded? He decided to not only be born a human but baby but actually do it through a virgin 12 year old! See how I argue the same about Christianity? Yeah...

      September 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • zeekdazombie

      So your saying a doctor will always have more character than a ditch digger? Beautiful logic there Rami. Also, other than an islamic country, name somewhere that you can get stoned for adultery? Not the "dude, I'm so high" kind of stoned, but the actual stone kind! There's also a lot of guys named "lefty" in those islamic countries because the stole something. Sure, you've come a long way Baby!

      September 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Rami


      Not that's not at all what I meant but it's my fault I awkwardly wrote that. My grandfather is a farmer and he is one of the greatest men I've known so I wasn't basing his character on his profession alone. I was just curious is all.

      As for Muslims blowing up people in the western world, what is their reason for doing it? If a foreigner invades your country and kills someone in your family will you want revenge or laugh it off? Hell yeah you would want revenge. The point is how far is the cycle of revenge going to go for? That's why there needs to be better understanding of one another so the wounds can heal. Like it or not, no is going to the sewer

      September 10, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  4. Lady in Waiting

    And if you are hired into a job and are lousy at it you can't be fired as you will scream race and religion bias. Yea right. Just go to Somalia and play pirate. That way you don't have to worry about apologizing.

    September 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Rami

      Wow thank you Lady in Waiting! I was so lost until I read your comment. You have convinced me to go to Somalia with your genious intellect (/sarcasm). Do us a favor and don't have kids OK? We don't want you infecting the gene pool with your stupidity. Thank god people like you are outcasts in society. Humanity's goal is to prosper into something great and thank god dumb people like you get left behind in history

      September 9, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Nacy Drew

      Well said. I lost my daughter at the Pentagon and my husband was seriously hurt at the tower and is now blind. I expect Muslums to apologize to me every day and I will never hire one as they may blow themselves up and hurt other employees. They are no use to the planet.

      September 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Rami

      @Nancy Drew:

      My 8 year old cousin was shot by a Christian in the back and is now forever paralyzed from the waste down and will never have a normal childhood. By your logic, are you saying that I should hate every Christian woman, man, and child?

      September 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  5. Lady in Waiting

    Muslums represent Cousins on the Corner as examples of the religion of peace.

    September 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  6. Lady in Waiting

    The Muslum is a smelly killer, as is also illustrated by the killers in prison who embrased being a member of the Muslum Brotherhood. Why don't we just destroy all their mosques in their homeland and the US and then write an editorial about how we are not going to apologize.

    September 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  7. Z

    I believe that it is not so much targeting all Muslims and saying that they are all terrorists. I believe that people only ask other Muslims what they think about specific events because sometimes it is nice to receive an opinion from a different ethnic background. No one is accusing all Muslims for being terrorist. It just happened that some terrorists are Muslims. We have terrrorism within our own people in America (American citizens of European discount). We just call them criminals. Anyone who strikes fear in another human being could be considered a "terrorist." people do not ask other Muslims for their opinion on 9/11 because they are accusing them of being involved with it. They are simply asking them because it just so happened that a few bad apples in the bunch had to go and perform these horrific events and they happened to be of the same culture so we ask other Muslims their opinions on the situation because we possibly what to understand their culture a little better and to understand that not all Muslims are bad in fact a vast majority of them are indeed good (99.9999999% are probably good). That's like asking a baseball player about steroids. Your not accusing him of taking them, you simply want to gain a better understanding through his opinion about a situatiothat involved with his culture (baseball).

    September 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  8. nowhereman

    then if we use his logic...we should stop apologizing and being held accountable for slavery and fly the flags of the confederate states since we didnt fight in that war and what it may have meant to people then isnt what it means to some segments of society now right?

    anything other than agreement from this guy would be hypocrisy and not rooted in any self established principles.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Rami

      I don't disagree with you. As a man of African decent, my belief is forgivness is the fastest way to heal deep wounds. Instead of looking at the past we should focus on the future and make sure that all the terrible things humans committed in the past are not repeated again. It's our job to shape a better world for future generations as our parents have done for us. Don't you agree?

      September 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • David in Detroit

      @ Rami; So do you hold your pants up with one hand while you rock back and forth chanting your religion of terror?

      September 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Rami

      @David in Detroit:

      Actually I'm more of a shorts and flip-flops kind of guy

      September 10, 2011 at 2:13 am |
  9. MB

    WOW.....So you think everyone that isn't Muslim thinks this way? no we don't. anyone with any brains knows it wasn't muslims. it was TERRORISTS. Get real dude you sound like 'POOR ME, POOR POOR ME'

    September 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • chuckmartel

      It was muslim terrorists you PC idiot. If you could read and count you would notice that they are in the news for blowing up muslims everyday in muslim countries and trying to blow up people in the western countries dumb enough to take them in. They are responsible for more terrorist attacks and incidents than all other nuts combined. Only muslims have this claim to fame.

      September 9, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  10. Amy

    You had me at "Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that?"

    September 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  11. Aves

    I do agree with the author that, as a religious group, Muslims should further the discussion. I disagree that it is wrong for them to condem acts of terrorism. It seems as if the Muslim religion has become deeply entwined in the public mind with the characteristics of a terrorist. If you want to distance yourself from this perception it makes sense to me to condem the behavior. To be silent, as history has shown, implies agreement. I applaud the Muslim Organizations trying to send a consistent message that they are not terrorists. What happened 9/11 was a tragedy for all Americans. But also, what is happening to our fellow Americans who are being persecuted for being Muslim is another tragedy. It goes against the very fundamentals of what we as a country stand for; religious freedom without fear of persecution, innocent until proven guilty, equality for all citizens. It is un-American to single out a Muslim for being Muslim. But to the author, do you really think that American Muslims will ever truely stop having to 'apologise' as you put it? Consider that there are still African Americans who harbor anger and hatred towards the Whites due to slavery, segregation, and other uncountable injustices. Do I wish we as a population could move on from these events? Yes, yes, yes. But it is also not realistic to think that Muslim community will be able to separate itself from terrorism anytime soon. No, its not fair but in the immortal words of parents everywhere: "Life isn't fair."

    September 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  12. gogorgia

    I decided to ignore the government and media and investigate for myself what Islam is really all about. And, after reading the Quaran, a large part of the Hadith, and many writings of Islamic scholars, I was sickened by what I discovered. The 9/11 hijackers and other Islamic terrorists are not "extremests"...they are doing EXACTLY what their religion instructs them to do.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Syed

      Then you obviously didn't read the translation of the Qur'an correctly... no where in the Qur'an does it say to allow terrorism.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • shawn

      Syed, I'm extremely open-minded and very open to interpretation but you just can't get away saying things like, "Then you obviously didn't read the translation of the Qur'an correctly... no where in the Qur'an does it say to allow terrorism." So you're blaming the reader now or the translation? I've studied Islam up and down, recently completed two years of study at the university instructed by a Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and Akbar Ahmed, taken in consideration of different points of view, listened and read articles from Imams and Scholars and even Muslims around the globe. You just can't blame the reader and act like they're wrong and you're right and pretend the reader is uninformed. Muhammad did some very VERY evil things in his time and you can't deny it or else you're just lying to EVERYONE. If you've read the Sura and Hadith then you know you're lying and it's time to stop. People look up to Muhammad and are instructed that he is a perfect man, one to follow and a role model. Listen, the man cut people's heads off. He raided innocent caravans and stole from them. He took women as booty and demanded a cut on all booty captured by his followers. Muhammad even ordered assassinations. List goes on! To be fair, yes, Muhammad did some very respectful things, but to blame translation interpretation is just low. All of Muhammad's deeds are carefully crafted and are supported in the Qur'an and the things Muhammad did were, well, terrorist-like in nature. Don't go crying now or blaming me for his evil but the man makes me sick and so do Muslims like you that are either ignorant in their own religion or are content, complicit or giddy for the downfall of the kafir or infidel (or any of the handful of other pejoratives used to describe non-Muslims). So please, cut the nonsense and step down a peg or two and get your head out of the sand. Not everyone is stupid. I know Islam much better than any one Muslim may think.

      September 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Lady in Waiting

      Sayd; you are right. It "requires" it.

      September 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  13. Omen

    You did not do it,BUT you all are still extremist Muslims that don't respect the USA and it's religion. What is this first sentence you made mhhaahaa....not funny stupid just like any Muslim.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  14. Johnson

    9/11 was caused by Muslims. Terrorists are mostly Muslim. Therefore, all Muslims should be watched by the CIA.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Noor

      You're basing your facts on an exaggerated stereotype of Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims have no connection with Terrorism and condemn such acts. As for the terrorists themselves, only a minority are Muslims (surprise surprise!). Try to look up some solid facts before engaging in such a debate.

      September 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  15. Packman

    A question to you muslims – if I convert to islam, will I get to marry my 8 year old cousin like mohamed did? She's really hot and I don't know of any other religion that would allow it.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  16. Packman

    I honestly believe that Islam should be banned from all civilized countries. Look at the troubles caused by Muslims around the world, Europe, Australia, the US. They simply do no mesh in modern society and instead expect their hosts to adapt to them and their ideology, not the other way around. On 9/11 I saw them on TV cheering in the streets in Detroit and elsewhere and I swear to God if I had been driving by I would've rammed my car into the lot of them. Christ, we cannot even get onto an airplane without submitting to a colonoscopy, all because of them.

    One more thing, CNN, why didn't you put a copy of Playboy in a quran instead of the Bible, like the photos above? Because the crazy ba...... would kill you, you hypocrites.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Kat

      It was not Muslms who said they speak to their "heavenly father" and forge evidence to start wars that kill, maim and make homeless millions of people...you twisted fundi christian.

      September 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  17. peacecj

    As long as muslims believe in mecca and medina, as long as they believe in the quran and it teachings, muslims will have to be ready to apologise for the way they think and behave, and that includes 9/11 – Aman Ali. You could be born in USA, that does not mean that you are not a muslim. As a muslim you have to believe in the quran and its teachings. And as such, you will sympathise with your islamic terrorist brothers and sisters. So stop the BSing Aman ali. To your misfortune, every one, except muslim, know your true color. Muslims are still in limbo, as they are still illiterate.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Kat

      Except the terrorists and their leader NEVER said ONCE that they did 911 in the name of Islam or the Quran, or because of "our way of life" or to convert people to Islam or to propegate islam...all they said was that the attacks were punishing attacks against the US hostile policies and wars....They said there will be peace when there is peace in Palestine, not when American women wear burqa...the fact is the most extreme Muslims do not care if you ear lard until you drop dead or if you let your mom and daughters walk naked in the streets. They only talk about their freedom from US occupation and wars.

      September 9, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  18. Imagine

    Other than the horific images that we all witnessed that day, the next most heinous images were of the Middle Eastern Muslims cheering on the streets........

    September 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Kat

      That is a lie; the Zionist warmongering evidence-forging-to-go-to-wars controlled media keeps saying Muslims celebrated 911 attacks while no single incident could be proved for that. The only clip came from an Israeli TV channel showing in Jerusalem an old woman with a bunch of pre-teens supposedly eating sweets in celebration of the attacks on 911...no interviewes with the women or kids in the clip on why they're having a party!!! The only folks who were really caught on 911 right in NY taping, cheering, and high-fiving the attacks were a bunch of Israeli Mossad agents...look up their story in youtube.

      September 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  19. Eyes Open

    I don't what Quran the author claims to have read, but the claim that it "unequivocally condemns terrorism" is nonsense. I wish it were true, it unfortunately is not. Quite the opposite.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Kat

      Except it is true...go read a Quran and stop getting your info from fanatic christian sites.

      September 9, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  20. tville dad

    The problem as I see it not all Muslims are terroists (the village idiot knows this) but nearly all terrorists claim they are Muslim

    September 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Khan

      Not really. You just highlight their religion first regardless of what they did. The Muslim TV station owner is Jersey who dismembered his wife due to a domestic dispute. How many times this has happened by non Muslims in America yet Islam was put at fault for that too. Stop putting Islam on trial for everything and you will see that Christians or Muslims commit same crimes alike.

      September 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Dave

      Go tell that to the IRA.

      September 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
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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.