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. Robin Bray

    And what about the loved ones killed on Iran Air Flight 655 shot down by U.S. missiles on 3 July 1988, over the Strait of Hormuz was flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when it was destroyed by the U.S. Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 66 children. This was during the Iran iraq war when we were selling arms to Saddam's Iraq. Accident?

    September 11, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • wilbur

      Or that plane that mysterioiusly was shot down by Soviet Union near Korea with the congressman aboard at the same timeframe.

      September 11, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Redneck louie

      or my cousin sal bob who got shot down ahittin on that chick from charleston tother day

      September 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  2. hrant dink

    here's my take – this is singularly the most distasteful, disrespectful and ill-conceived piece I have ever read. it's one thing to take a contrarian view regarding what is easily the most unfortunate tragedy to strike our country in several decades, but to do so as flippantly as Ali has done above is inexcusable. it is no doubt impossible to expect Ali to ever be embarrassed for himself, but we should expect better from CNN. leave this kind of nonsense to Al Jazeera and other less responsible "news" outlets.

    September 11, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • Val

      I concur with you completely.

      September 11, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  3. Jim Pickens

    I thought the comparison to Nickelback wasn't a very good one. How about a better one?

    Why do whites still have to apologize about slavery? Because they want to distance themselves from those whites that did it, even though it happened so long ago.

    Muslims will say sorry for what those people did because they don't want to be associated with them.

    It's not that hard to comprehend, though I understand the point of view of Mr. Ali.

    September 11, 2011 at 5:04 am |
  4. StewartIII

    NewsBusters| Muslim Comedian: Muslims Should Stop Apologizing for 9/11

    September 11, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  5. dixiedog44

    I hate to generalize, but the truth is that though many of your faith hide behind the "it wasn't me" excuse when IT REALLY IS YOU! You know the supposedly religious people that are spitting out the insane hate propaganda that promotes violence against Americans and condones the killing of innocents including children in the name of a ridiculous "Jihad" (meaning excuse for wholesale murder), yet you do nothing to try to prevent it. You are a party to the slaughter by not actively fighting the ones that are inciting the violence! If a Baptist,, Catholic, Jewish, (you name it) religious sect was openly inciting this kind of violence, they would be turned in to the authorities in a Minnesota second, but you people hear the vicious invective and do nothing about it. If you TRULY BELIEVED in what your Mohammed taught, you would marshal your people to OPENLY FIGHT AND DENOUNCE these murderers instead of playing the "race" and/or "religious" "we are being discriminated against" card. I had sympathy for your religion and the people not actively engaged in this war on humanity at one time, however. I have come to the conclusion that you are ALL at fault by going along with the ones that promote this violence. If you knowingly abet a murderer, you are also guilty.

    September 11, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • Anonymous

      "If you TRULY BELIEVED in what your Mohammed taught, you would marshal your people to OPENLY FIGHT AND DENOUNCE these murderers instead of playing the "race" and/or "religious" "we are being discriminated against" card." It's easy to say what you did, but do you have any idea what is happening in Muslim countries? You can't just "OPENLY FIGHT AND DENOUNCE these murderers." Muslim countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan and the innocent people in living there are already facing the consequences of the so called "Muslims" that caused 9/11 or any disaster for that matter. The fact is, Muslims don't consider those involved in such malevolence to be Muslims. Just as the article said, if you would actually sit down and read the meaning of the Quran, you would know that our religion and culture for that matter do not promote such violence. Muslims are people just like everybody else. This is 2011, and I didn't think people like you still existed, but I guess I was wrong. If you have ever met a Muslim, you would know all of this stuff.

      September 11, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  6. John Kindle

    Muslims in the world and especially the West should have taken not newspaper articles condemning the action of their brothers; they did noel They are attempting to take over western civilization in Western Europe, attempting to have their religions law there instead of the laws of the country. They have sued our private universities (two in Texas: Houston Baspist and Trinity in San Antonio because they used "Lord" in their diplomas; of course they lost since these were private colleges but the Muslims knew they would lose; they just wanted to stir things up. I will never believe that they belong in our country and I sincerely believe they should go back to where they came from and make their countries livable. Israel did is; what can't the muslim? They want to take over when we have worked so hard to established without working for it.

    September 11, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  7. Emma

    You're disingenuous and deceitful, mr aman ali. 911 would never have happened were it not for the explicitly violent passages in the quran, the conduct of mohammad (e.g. ta'if, particularly), and promises of the most earthly delights in jannah. Not one single muslim, leader or individual on this planet has ever condemned these 7th century passages and suggested they be reformed or removed. Instead muslims, defending islam, reject the absolutely blatant connections between islamic scripture and seething violence and blame the ubiquitous "misunderstandings" on context, translation, plots by zionists and/or george bush, or proclaim "that is not islam"... quickly followed by tu quoque, ad hominem and finally accusations of racism, bigotry, and the catch word of the 21st century, islamophobia!!!

    Well, boys and girls, unfathomable violence in the name of islam IS islam. So, although the vast majority of the muslims on earth have no reason to apologize for their actions regarding 911 or any acts of violence they ALL should apologize for islam.

    September 11, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  8. Chappy

    Communism wins for most deaths, a lack of religion, rather than in the name of religion.

    Social engineering is a worse threat to freedom than religions that have been discussed here.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • *frank*

      No, Mao and Stalin were for all intents and purposes worshipped as living gods. So, really, no.

      September 11, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  9. Regreq

    9/11 was unique only in its scale; it was not unique in being an attack MOTIVATED by Islamic radicalism. There was also the 1993 attack on the WTC, perpetrated by individuals motivivated by the Prophet's religion of hate. And the London bombing, the Madrid bombing, the Bombay terror incident, etc. etc. Not to mention the countless "suicide-bombers" (often targeting other Muslims), the genocide in the Sudan (again motivated by Muslim triumphalism), and ongoing murderers of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and Christians in North Africa.

    I If, rather than Muslims, civilized societies (whether Western, Russian, Hindu, East-Asian, or Jewish) continued to be attacked by groups of Satanists, Occultists, Cthluthists, zombies, or Wiccans, it would be absurd to listen to member of THOSE groups claiming they were tired of being apologetic! Hey, the REST of US are tired of being targeted for murder because of YOUR faith tolerates & encourages murder.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • remember the uss liberty

      every single one of those acts was done by MOSSAD. yes they are that evil and that hard at work.

      ISRAEL DID 911.

      Dr. Alan Sabrosky of the US Army War college came out and said it. The top brass of the military knows it.
      Check out "911 missing links" on youtube

      September 29, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  10. Carl Sandburg

    @Maha – I try to be respectful and appropriate to all. A Muslim family lives down the street from me, though I don't know them. My position is that I can't trust them completely. A small percentage of Muslims see me as the worst if infedels. 1% of all Muslims is still a number in the millions. If I trust, and I am wrong, I am paving the way for my own death, and that of my countrymen. Trust, at this point in time, is foolish. I will not provoke. I will not do harm. But I will not trust.

    Also, I don't ask for apology at all. Those who are against me will never apologize, and those who are peaceful Muslims are guilty of nothing, and do not need to apologize.

    September 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  11. Xilo

    I must be missing something here.
    Muslims apologizing for 9/11?
    I've never heard one.
    Condemnations? Yes.
    Statements of how tragic? Yes.
    Apology? That's news to me

    September 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • paddlefeet

      When will the Israeli's apologize? when will the zionist? when will the Bush clan?The American CIA/FBI The Israeli's zionist and Mossad are the only groups that could of did 9/11

      September 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  12. Amelia Noor

    There is an underlying presumption in this article that Muslims committed the acts of 9/11. Although I wasn't on the planning committee, I watched the news just like any other American and saw more than 3 buildings fall down. What happened to Building 7...

    September 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Literate

      I suppose the Apollo moon landings were faked as well? Along with the recent lunar observation satellite...

      Put down the Kool Aid. Or better yet, don't – I hear this year's Darwin Awards are looking for nominees.

      September 11, 2011 at 4:08 am |
  13. NYAkmed

    Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11 and begin to stand up against the radical Islamic imams both in the US and abroad. They should denounce Jihad, become tolerant of other religions and acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist. But even the Islamic leaders in America called "Moderates" will not do this. Hate and intolerance is ingrained in the teachings of Mohammed.

    September 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  14. News Runner

    Funny that would ask me to read a book that is about the Quran and not actually the Quran itself. I got my information solely from the Quran itself, and I wasn't saying the Muslims were the chosen people, especially in the views of the Bible and Torah. I was simply saying that in the Quran the muslims are the "holy people" the people good in Alah's eyes. You should slow down and actually read what I wrote. oh and btw, how many acts of violence did you read in the Bible after Jesus Christ came? Because if you read the other post I did here, it explains the fact that there was a higher law given to the people by Jesus Christ.

    September 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  15. Chad

    "It’s ridiculous for Muslims to continuously condemn and apologize for stuff when every religion has their fair share of crazies."
    Well, of course that's the crux of the issue. Yes, there are crazies in every religion, but if you add up all the people in Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and the Taliban thats WAY to many people to call "crazies". That has now become a fairly main stream belief (even if you dont believe it personally).

    When millions of your fellow believers hold an opinion, you're liable to get some of that paint on you.

    September 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  16. News Runner

    Your right!!!!!!!! IF you know anything about the laws before Jesus came and the laws after Jesus came, they were fulfilled and moved to a higher law. Sacrafices were done away with because the Ultimate one had been made. Even if you don't believe its true, if you look at it factually, this is how it was. Why do you think Christians dont sacrafice now? It isn't needed anymore, and besides it was the extremist of the Islamic beliefs that thought they needed to kill the enemies to the Quran, not the actual people. The point I was making is that the laws like stoning someone to death because they didnt follow the Sabbath, aren't what Christians are suppose to follow anymore because of what Jesus Christ did. The Islamic religion had no reformation of laws or fulfillments like these. The bad personal chocies that people make because what they think the Quran tells them to do is on them not the Quran, but its not just the book, its the habbits and traditions of the Muslim people that cause alot of women and children to be beaten, mostly because its accepted there because the book teaches that the man of the house should have respect and not be talked back to. Everything can't be taken literally, but when the Quran says these things all the way through and doesn't ever say that people shouldn't die anymore for not keeping the Sabbath as does the Bible, then the books means what it means. The bible had those "changes" if you will to ensure the righteousness of the people. They didn't need such crude and hard laws anymore. All Jesus wanted was their good works and for the people to change, be like him, and give their hearts to him and God. The punishments for sin in the old testament were crude deaths and other such things, but in the new testament as the laws were fulfilled by Jesus Christ, these laws were made into spiritual punishments and things that would be judged upon death of the induvidual. READ YOUR BOOKS AS A WHOLE BEFORE YOU SAY ANYTHING.

    September 10, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • remember the uss liberty

      you have never read the quran and know NOTHING about Islam.

      You know virtually nothing about the teachings of Jesus, either no doubt.

      September 29, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  17. tojop

    You guys realize the Bible says, in no uncertain terms, that anyone working on the Sabbath should be put to death? Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    September 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  18. News Runner

    and kimsland has a point, I realise women are wanting to be apart of this culture and dont feel suppressed but when a woman or a child is beaten, thats not a holy act in ANY book.

    September 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • kimsland

      Thanks 🙂

      September 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  19. News Runner

    Actually if you read the Quran, there are many verses aimed at destroying anyone who believes differently than the chosen people of Islam. I think that should be enough, yes of course every culture has the extremist, but seriously people, read what is in your book. I did, and among the "good teachings", there are these beliefs of hate and killing to the non-muslim believers.

    September 10, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • kimsland

      All religions are filled with Hate and Fear, although I agree that one in particular is the worst.

      September 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • @ News Runner

      ACTUALLY, after reading the bible & the Torah there are many mentions of Violence against non-believers; and to get your facts straight, Jewish people were the chosen people, so says the Bible, Torah and the Quran. People hear, see and read what they want to because we have lost our ability to have an open mind, but also we formulate judgements on reading tidbits of news and taglines and bullet points of conversations and writing. We are cliff note generation just do enough to get by and hope no one ask you to explain in detail the answer. I appreciate that you took the time to read the quran and I hope that it was proper translation. If you are interested, please read the following book Islam between east and west by Alija Izetbegović, good book, hope you enjoy it

      September 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Qudsia

      The Holy Quran does mention fighting non-believers a lot because the non believers of that time were the ones persecuting the Muslim MINORITY when the Holy Quran was being revealed. The non-believers were the ones sparing no pains at torturing and killing the Muslims and after bearing that for many years, the Muslims were finally ordered to fight back to restore freedom of conscience. The Holy Quran makes is abundantly clear WHEN force is allowed against non-believers:

      "Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged...Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah (God) is oft commemorated." (Holy Quran Ch22:v39-41)

      If you notice, this includes the protection of other religions as well, and according to the Holy Quran the Muslims are to fight to protect them as well if their religious freedom is forcefully taken away.

      Another theme repeated throughout the Quran is that of not transgressing beyond the injury received. Which also makes it clear that the fighting was due to the offensive laid by the enemy:

      "And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors." (Holy Quran ch2:v190/191)

      As far as religious believes are concerned, the Holy Quran unequivocally declares:

      "There shall be no compulsion in religion..." (Holy Quran ch2:v256/257)

      September 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • NYAkmed

      Your Qur'an quotes are taken out of context. When the teachings of Mohammed are read the message is very clear. It is so clear, Muslim nations around the world may denounce terrorism publicly, but internally, they hate Israel, support Jihad and are intolerant of any other religion. People are reading the Qur'an and Hadiths and can see for themselves the motivation of terrorists.

      September 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • remember the uss liberty

      many passages??? you are wrong, there is not ONE. the quran is the most peaceful of books.

      It states " if un beleivers should wage war against you then kill them, but if they should stop, then you too must stop"
      Self defense and no retribution, compared to whole sale murder of innocents in the Torah.

      I challenge you to show me otherwise.

      ISRAEL DID 911.

      Dr. Alan Sabrosky of the US Army War college came out and said it. The top brass of the military knows it.
      Check out "911 missing links" on youtube

      September 29, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  20. sprayman0

    The religion of peace murders more people in one year than all 350 years of the spanish inquistion. Islam murdered more people in two hours on Sept.11 than 36 years of sectarian violence in northern Ireland.Islam murders more people in one day than the KKK has in the past 50 years.Since 9/11 there have been 17,716 deadly terror attacks in the name of islam.To you LKJ,you need to read more current news.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • @Sprayman)

      Where were your ideals and stats when muslims were being persecuted and murdered in Bosnia? Where were your voices when whites were murdering and persecuting blacks in South Africa? Where were you when our government was supporting and installing murderous dictators to do our dirty work? Where were your numbers when Timothy McVeigh blew up the building in Oklahoma city? Why did you not speak up when we did not care how many innocent civilians we killed in Iraq & Afghanistan? The point is that there a lot in our past, unfortunately just like you there are many muslims who would rather quote the news and stats from it rather be part of changing the society in a positive way and taking a stand against people who are bent on destroying it. Please know this as a Muslim once you have even thought of a plan to hurt innocent people you stop being Muslim. AL-QAIEDA are thugs, thieves and drug dealers and nothing more, nothing they can say can and will make them a Muslim, because actions and deeds make you a muslim not just saying it.

      September 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Maha

      '@ Sprayman' I completely agree. its funny how many hypocirites there are out there

      when muslims do something its terrorism. when anyone else does it, they were not mentally stable


      September 10, 2011 at 1:15 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.