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 girl.

    I am a 15 year old girl, and I'm not muslim but I have muslim, christian and jewish family members. Kind of crazy right? Hahaha. Anyways, they all get along and realize that a person should be able to have their own beliefs without being judged for it. Just because there are a couple crazy, bloodthirsty muslims out there who love to defend their actions with shoddy statements from Islam, doesn't mean all of them are like that. I know that for a fact because the muslims in my family are the most caring people ever and all they want is peace, same with the christians/catholics and jews. We are all human, therefore we are all related. If my family could overcome their differences, why can't all of the human race?

    September 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Muneef

      The question here dear is "Are your family members all from one race or different races? If all one race that is normal but if in different races well then that is some thing.

      September 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Staycalm7

      People, people, listen to this young girl. Stop rattling off all your assorted examples of hate. Every religion has them! Love cures. We are all born, babes, needing love, but also shelter and a feeling of safety. Fear is our enemy. Fear of not being loved, fear of not being sheltered and safe. When e are fearful, and not loved, we do terrible things. When this happens en mass, the results are sadly predictable. Whole regions and peoples suffer fear and lack of care every day. When someone walks in and says, "I have a solution, and the root of your troubles is those people over there, let's eliminate them and then all will be well, OVER AND OVER fearful and unloved people follow. WHEN WILL WE LEARN????

      September 12, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  2. Gary Dunn

    Gawker Media, located at Gawker Media LLC, 210 Elizabeth Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY, 10012 is a travesty to the 9/11 victims. These people and this publication have made a practice of exposing the identies of intelligence officers, including those involved in the killing of Bin Laden, in order to attempt to get those American intelligence officers killed. This is a proven and widely reported fact in international media. Look it up in any search engine. The utter disdain for the law and common decency is the essence of Gawker Media.

    September 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  3. deejay

    Aman Ali- People ask you because you are obviously an intelligent American, and they want to know if you really care (and they secretly suspect you don't.)

    For the record, I never saw a TRUE apology after 9-11. They all had buts- We're sorry, but if you treated Muslims better this wouldn't have happened, etc. Yes Jews and Christians have their rogue problems, but you will not find supporters in ANY measurable numbers. That is not true for Islam as many of your breathern – probably 30% – admire terrorists. (PEW survey)

    This is the true cost of 9-11 for Islam in America:
    I consisder myself an open-minded semi-liberal- yet if I see a Muslim person or family, to this day I think of terrorism and suicide bombers... And I'm sorry, but I don't think of Islam as peaceful at all. There is no mutual trust.

    September 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Natalie

    Muslims never needed to "apologize" for 9/11. What was needed, was the Muslim leaders of America to publicly denounce the animals who committed there terrorist acts. Instead, there was silence. That silence spoke volumes. The only time the Muslims population started to talk, much further down the road, was more out of self-preservation than actual disgust over the attacks.

    September 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  5. Jenn

    THANK YOU, Mr. Ali! I am a conservative Christian involved in a church where one elder (in his twenties) has been called to proclaim the truth of Islam to bone-headed, prejudiced, compartmentalizing "Christians," who will condemn all Muslims out of ignorance, having thought it somehow heretical to pick up, read, and study the holy Qur'an. You never need to apologize;the deliberately provocative Americans (especially Christians, who are to love everyone as Christ did, even those who were crucifying Him) who are too proud to reach outside their comfort zones are the ones who owe The Apology.
    I am sorry for the way you have been treated. Please accept my apologies on behalf of those who love their neighbors and pray for those who persecute them, including the handful of terrorists that have tarnished your reputation as peace-loving people.
    Peace be with you, and with me, and with us.

    September 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  6. Anisha

    Well written, Well expressed. Kind of like a mirror for all the Muslims who will feel the same itch, but afraid to speak out loud ...!!!!

    September 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  7. John


    September 11, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  8. afatcow123

    amen (so be it)

    September 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Daniel

    Explain to me why muslims in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Chechnya, India, Yemen, Pakistan, Iraw, Somalia, Algeria, Thailand, and Egypt have comitted religious murders over the last MONTH.

    September 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  10. Dana P. Tartaglione

    Moderate Islam is the Trojan house of this religion.

    September 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  11. Ryan

    I think the thing most hindering public opinion on Islam and Muslim is that I don't see a lot of outreach to the community, at least where I live. I don't know if they are afraid to, but it seems that there are many things that they could be involved in in their local community to help change the stereotype that Muslims hate America and stand for violence and terrorism. Many of the Muslim faith love America, even ones that do not even live here. Muslims have their own private way of worship, and I think if the public saw their giving back to the world and the community regardless of affiliation, I think that would go a long way in changing the outlook America has on Muslims.

    September 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  12. Braelyn

    When I was on a plane going from New York to Florida, the seat in front of me was next to the Emergency Exit. There was a Muslim woman sitting there. Even though she insisted to the flight attendant that she could understand and handle the responsibility of it, the flight attendant made her move. I could tell this was racism, and it was horrible to watch.

    September 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • What If


      Well, it could be an example of s.exism too, you know. Me... in an emergency, I'd rather have a person with sufficient upper body strength (in addition to understanding of the instructions) to handle opening that door (sorry, most likely male).

      September 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  13. HITLER

    What is the similarity between NAZI and ZIONIST....................

    September 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  14. Maryam

    I'm a 14 year old Muslim girl..
    Today i watched the news and teared up seeing all the names of people that have died. But because of 9/11 I have been verbally bullied in school no, i don't wear that head scarf because now i'm even afraid of telling people that i am a Muslim. My self esteem is so messed up and I hate it. Last year we learned about each religion and when it was time to learn about Islam they would scream terrorists and the teacher wouldn't even do anything. Constantly people call me a terrorist it's probably because the guys are still immature around my age but it still hurts. I hope you guys understand that not all Muslims are bad... >.<

    September 11, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • John Richardson

      Hang in there, Maryam, it gets better. That age is rough for lots of people even when people's crazed and ignorant response to geo-political situations outside anyone's control are thrown into the deal. Yes, there's a lot of immaturity amongst kids that age, especially boys, but not just them. And lots of teachers can be very cowardly about standing up to any forms of bullying. It's a national disgrace. Seek out support groups, both your own age and adults. Try to reach out to those non-Muslims who can tell the difference between a small gang of terrorists and the billion plus other Muslims who have never harmed or threatened anyone. They DO exist, but you may have to seek them out amongst the quiet people around you. The tolerant, too, are often bullied into silence by the intolerant. Good luck.

      September 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Jenn

      Oh, Dear Maryam, I am so sorry for the abuse you have suffered at the hands of ignorant people. I wish I could tell you that it was not Christians, but the loudest mouths have been those who claim to follow Christ. Please accept my apology on behalf of the cruel bullies in the US who outnumber the terrorists associated with Islam.
      Peace be with you, and with me, and with us.

      September 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  15. Bayousara

    Aman Ali, have you thought about becoming an athiest? Then you wouldn't even have to write this article.

    September 11, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • nat

      seriously? he shouldn't feel compelled to change his religion to avoid conflict and shame. you're thinking is along the lines of victim-blaming.

      September 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  16. ginny

    These comments stand out most in this article. Take out the apology and all I hear. "As a Muslim, I’m sick of people asking me how I feel about 9/11 It’s ridiculous for Muslims to continuously condemn stuff when every religion has their fair share of crazies. After 10 years why are mainstream American Islamic groups still condemning the attacks and just about any other act of terrorism that pops up in the news? I'm really annoyed I have to keep condemning Muslim extremists. I’m not going to condemn them because I don’t need to prove my patriotism" I'm not even an American and I comdemn terrorism everytime I hear about it and will keep condemning it until it STOPS no matter who is doing it!

    September 11, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • mnwt

      he has to condemn it to unaffiliate himself with it, though obviously it's nothing to do with him. imagine if every day youw ere asked the same questin, it dmnwtoesn't matter what the answer is it's horrible. ever have a bad haircut at school? at least 5 times a day you'll be asked if you got ran over by a lawnmower until you grow it out. not fun

      September 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  17. wilbur

    There are too many Anti Muslim statements so to counter: Jesus was half black. Mary was r aped. Christians worship the Cross of Homicide..electric chair of the day. Catholics in particular (check out Borgia family for example) have long dealt in death and worshipped death even via communion. No child anymore believes it. Christianity: walking dead.

    September 11, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  18. wilbur

    Why should a Muslim "apologize" unless they 'did it'? And....we were afraid of THE ANTHRAX MAILINGS. Nobody remembers that 9.11 was motivating. We wanted to kick butt....the ANTHRAX MAILINGS where so terrible we transferred out fear to 9.11

    September 11, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  19. Val

    By the way, it's been 10 years and I have personally NEVER heard any Muslim apologize for 9/11

    September 11, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Has anyone heard apologies from American citizens for invading Viet Nam, slaughtering Native Americans or the "friendly fire" deaths of several Canadian military in Afghanistan? If you expect others to 'fess up, don't you think it should be a two-street?

      September 11, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • sandra

      I agree with you Val. 10 years after 9/11 and we are still not safe! Someone said in New York amongst the debris on Sep 11 that these people should be annihilated. On the contrary, muslims have thrived even more with the politicians giving into all their demands – mosques being built, swarms of them immigrating into the country while they are increasing in population. Not one muslim group has yet come forward to condemn the attacksand the have NEVER apologised. I wonder what the next 10 years will bring?

      September 11, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Nicole

      Perhaps because they don't have to apologize for anything...? Yes, that might be it. Stop being so ignorant.

      September 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Salem

      To val and sandra: I'm praying for you right now. I hope that you can look past your ignorance and stop giving in to stupidity. If I were Christian would I have to continuously apologize for all the Priests that molest alter boys. Just when you'd think it could get any worse, the families are bought off so they don't press charges. I have christian friends and I don't ask them to apologize for inhumane crimes.

      September 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  20. balex

    Whats wrong with CNN? I wrote a beautiful article on Outsourcing which many of my friends and not-so friends appreciated, and CNN keeps rejecting it and they think this piece of writing deserves attention? the guy is teling the same story again and again from first sentence to the last. The reason why everyone questions Muslims is because the acts of terrorism did not stop with 9/11..The army doctor who killed in Texas was a muslim, the failed bomber in NYC in his SUV was a muslim..so there are still out there..thats why. How can you compare what happened on 9/11 with some junk movies, or horrible albums or losing sportsmen? Its something that will haunt us for the rest of our lives and some of the Muslims did it..period..

    September 11, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • wilbur

      The subject of the Drone attacks would say the same thing. Almost 1,000 mostly innocent bystanders have been killed in drone attacks. Why do us (usually fat and stupid and lazy) Americans get to JUDGE THE WHOLE WORLD? Probably the dirty gutter religion that celebrates death: Christian

      September 11, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Helpful Hints

      balex, Go over your post and look for these:

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
      sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      September 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Salem

      Helpful hints, i wana hug u right now.

      September 11, 2011 at 2:27 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.