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. Tod

    Okay, maybe you don't have to apologize for every bad thing Muslims do in this world but...please apologize for that crazy looking funked out beard thingy you have on your face. Really!? what the heck happened there?

    September 11, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  2. american

    Thank you for your comments, as i read through these i realize how angry people are, it is not about religion, or race It is about our own freedom, it is also about how we have changed since 9/11, i am so tired of people that carry no form of empathy for their fellow man, yet i see the origins of that fear and hate and i am baffled that we have not laughed it off and sought more shelter in the fact we are Americans instead we have divided our feelings and our country along so many lines now it is hard to see the way to the future. Thomas Jefferson was right in the design of a republic and not a true democracy, his way of separation of church and state was a very forward looking concept , he knew from his own short falls what man could do and would if his way of life felt threatened,
    i make no apologies for being white, christian Texan , republican or human, i would recommend that the author doesn't either, mostly i would take offence that he would not feel American first.

    September 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  3. just me

    This article is horrible!!! Its not funny in any way shape or form. How insensitive can one person be? Tell your views to one of the many children who lost a parent on 9/11. I'm sure they wont' find it funny either. If you really think that your God would approve of this article, that is a religion i would never support.

    September 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm |

    "Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that"
    I'm sorry I love this guy just from that statement

    September 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • rayne

      lol I thought that was a clever way of stating his point. I don't think he's being disrespectful at all. The first commenter apparently does on comprehend the article. "Your God?" Really? That's the kind of thing he's talking about.

      September 11, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  5. July Faction

    Islam is guilty. It has so much blood on it's hands directly or indirectly. So does Judaism. So does Christianity (they are more an assault on the mind then directly against the body nowadays [also, the US is NOT a Christian nation anymore by the way]) So why don't we stop all this nonsense and become Atheists? I love my country and I want to see it thrive without all the "inter-faith" nonsense. You so-called people of faith all hate each other and have for a long time. Please go live in the past with your mysticism and let us move into the future. We want a strong and prosperous nation free of people who just submit to Allah and Jehovah for nothing. 9/11 was one of the worst acts of faith-based violence in the entire history of humankind. Trash your faith and stand with those who understand why 3000 Americans died- because frustrated young men in a poor neighborhood in the middle east had a strong belief in a magical invisible spirit who speaks Arabic.

    September 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  6. Natalie

    Not for nothing, but how dare you compare a Nickleback album to 9/11? I don't care if you think you're a comedian, you're not funny.

    September 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Chad

      So you can enjoy Freedom of Speech but because YOU don't like what this guy wrote he should shut up? Very hypocritical of you don't you think?

      September 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  7. Jill

    I completely agree with the writer that he in no way condones what happened on 9/11. Nor do I think that he should apologize for it. However, the Quran certainly promotes jihad, and leaves enough ambiguity surrounding the word to where someone could interpret it to mean waging war against all "infidels." Furthermore, the premise of the article is encouraging Muslims to stop apologizing. Whether or not they should (which, again, I don't think they should), they haven't and don't. Therein lies one of my issues with the religion; they don't speak out loudly enough against the evil that is perpetrated in the name of their religion. I attend medical school and I get really upset when I see my fellow classmates out in their scrubs getting drunk at a restaurant. Should I apologize for their behavior? No, but I went to the dean to see about changing the rules regarding alcohol and a uniform that lumps me together with these people. I was vocal about there being a problem with this, and sought to have it changed so that when I see a patient, they don't think that all medical students who attend my school are irresponsible alcoholics. Perhaps more of an outcry against the absolute slander of the religion instead of only an outcry against Americans being leery of the religion.

    September 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • R. Tifou

      You must be a real blast to have around at a party.

      September 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  8. Muneef

    Read this for a clear idea I hope;


    September 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  9. Tom

    Fact is that muslims tried to destroy the US. If that is a religious dogma, it is foreign to every value of Christianity upon which the US was founded, and has conducted itself over the past two centuries. The reality is fanatics in the name of muslim religion tried to destroy our nation and killed thousands of us and other nations over the past 10 years of armed conflict. Do muslims owe an apology, absolutely, every day!

    September 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • nouna

      do Germans have to apologize for what Hitler did? No then so are we

      September 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Timeless

      If Muslims own an apology for the 3000 dead on 9/11 than what does the USA own for the MILLION people dead in Iraq? And let us not forget that Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11, nor had an weapons of mass destruction. So those lost million lives and 100 of thousands of homeless people, what do they get?

      September 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • lolno

      Uhm. JUST SO YOU KNOW. The United States was not, in fact, founded upon Christian ideology. The United States was founded upon SECULAR beliefs.

      Maybe Christians should start apologizing for the crusades or the spanish inquisition or daily hate and discrimination and imperialistic jerkiness. JUST SAYIN.

      September 11, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  10. Dustin zilbauer

    If you REALLY want to know the bottom line about Islam, watch Islam: What the west needs to know. It's VERY enlightening and backs up every claim it makes with passages from the Koran and the Hadith.

    September 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  11. Dustin zilbauer

    I can't believe you'd say that Islam doesn't sanction terrorism. What about the passage that states "fight and slay the pagans where ever you find them" or "muster weapons against the unbelievers so that you may TERRORIZE them"?

    September 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • David

      I'm so tired of Muslims, who claim that American MiddleEast policies lead to 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, especially the support for Israel. How do you then account for the anti-Jewish hate preached before Israel even existed. How do you account for the Mufti of Jerusalem moving to Berlin to help Hitler design " The final solution". Quit pandering the Muslims. They are animals.

      September 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • lolno

      Have you checked out what the bible says about non-believers?

      CHRONICLES 15:12-13 " whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman. "

      DEUTERONOMY 13:6-10 Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own.

      DEUTERONOMY 13:12-16 Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you.

      DEUTERONOMY 17:2-7 Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own.

      September 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • R. Tifou

      All I have to say is: Operation Ajax.

      It really sucks, but we reaped what we sowed for our policy in Iran and Afghanistan in the 20th Century.

      September 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  12. Laurinda

    I think we should stop apologizing for slavery (because none of us today were slaves or slave owners) but that is an ongoing issue.

    September 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  13. Chuck Lampe

    Nicely said.

    September 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  14. Chad

    This distrust that people have towards Muslims is based on the substantial number of Muslims that are engaging in terrorism. It’s based on an understanding that the majority of Muslims dislike the West and Israel. This distrust is based on reality. If you want to be trusted, act in a trust worthy manner. Islam doesn’t have a problem with perception, it has a problem with the activities of a not-insignificant number of there own.

    Tens of thousands involved in terrorism, millions of Muslims in the middle east want to wipe Israel off the map. to many to call a minority.

    September 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  15. saywhat

    This is a good statement. Now hopefully people out there would stop calling people Libtards every time we disagree with the conservative right- wing.

    September 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  16. Jon

    Pope John Paul II apologized for what Catholics did in the inquisition, that they were going against their Christian values. A leader will often apologize for something done by someone he leads. In such situations, the apology is not an admission of personal guilt, but is rather to express that you are especially grieved that someone who is associated to *you*, has done such a thing. When a leader makes such an apology, it has the additional purpose of guiding his followers to similarly condemn the action. Unfortunately, in a few, but not most, places in the middle east, there was cheering on 9-11, so such guidance was in fact needed in at least some places.

    September 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Chad

      When did the Inquisition take place? 1500/1600's. And the Pope got around to apologizing for it just in the past couple of years. So by your own logic you shouldn't be angry that Muslim leaders have apologized yet as they still have a couple of hundred years before they have to apologize.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  17. Jammie Lane

    I Love your article! I am actually athiest.... but I think the same way you do. I'm white- but don't ASSUME that I am a member of the KKK! I'm from Texas- don't ASSUME that I ride a horse everywhere! I am so surprised by people reactions to Muslims- I feel we have traveled back in time- it's not a black/white thing- it's Muslin/non Muslim. When will people grow up and just try to get along?

    September 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  18. Joe Boyd

    Dear Aman,
    The day I see mass demonstrations by Muslims in Karachi, Riyadh and, yes, Gahanna, Ohio, demanding the closing of all madrassas, and the immediate and permanent shutdown of the islamoterrorist industry around the world, you can stop asking for forgiveness. Until then, if we ever meet, please have the decency of starting your conversation with me by apologizing profusely for the acts of mass murder inspired by your faith. I don't recall reading any reports lately of Catholic, Buddhist or Baha'i suicide bombers. Please get a grip and take a few lessons in contriteness, sensitivity and humility before yielding to the temptation of spouting such insulting nonsense.

    September 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Kim

      Joe, Madrassas are there as long as Islamic civilisation but I don't recall sucide bomber for that long.

      September 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • janetlaw

      Why should he? And apologize for a Madrassa? Really? And, have you apologized for the KKK, Timothy McVeigh, U.S. Neo-Nazis, etc? Why should you and WHY SHOULD HE?

      September 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Pretentious

      Are you perchance retarded? Ever heard of the Crusades? In case you don't know, religion in general is responsible for most of the world's problems both today as well as in the past.

      September 11, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  19. Remo

    One statement. Welcome to my world. I've been apologizing for slavery (I'm white) sufferage (I'm male) and Auschwitz (of german decent) since I was a kid in the 50's

    One question. Why do you assume Muslims cannot be white?

    September 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  20. Moosa

    This is the POWER OF THE MEDIA. Mr Aman Ali, an intelligent bright young man actually believes that some "Muslims" were really the masterminds behind 9-11!!!! Wow.

    Right – I am one of those stupid conspiracy theorists – YES. I believe that every action is taken for some benefit. Only a fool takes actions just for the heck of it. So who benefited from 9-11?

    September 11, 2011 at 3:14 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.