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. *frank*

    None of this would have happened if the brits hadn't said hey, presto! this is now Israel! and had instead sent all the jews to Costa Rica or better yet Arizona, and told them they could have their precious little desert sh!tbox promised land there.
    They could have just renamed Phoenix "Jerusalem", become javelina shepherds or day traders, and everybody would have been happy.
    (They did that hey, presto! here's a country! trick with Kuwait, too. And then of course, there's "Afghan"istan, whatever the hell that's supposed to be. None of those tricks turned out so well, apparently...)

    September 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  2. An American Muslim

    I understand the Quran has passages that explain what the lesser Jihad is. But think about it. The Quran was revealed at a time where Islam was a religion that was being attacked and destroyed. So during those times it made sense. Just like how the Christians tried to preserve their faith back in the day, with all the crusades. These days the lesser Jihad doesn't need to be acted on. Islam is already one of the major religions. The extremist muslims also kill their own people. They have bombed all-girl schools in Afghanistan. They've killed more muslims than non-muslims. Their agenda isn't about destroying non-muslims it's about destroying what America is. They want to scare and destroy everything America stands for. They love the fact that there are non-muslims in America that have been treating the muslims as if they are all evil and don't belong here. Watch fox news, the way they talk about muslims as if we are all like the extremists...it is just disturbing and they don't even know what they are talking about majority of the time. The extremists are loving networks like that b/c they want the American muslims to turn against America.
    Yeah not going to happen. I'm a muslim and love this country and will also follow my faith I am not a sociopath and don't believe in killing people for whatever reason.
    I also believe in tolerance of other religions and even tolerance for those that choose not to believe in a god or gods. I believe there are good people and bad people out there and they can be of any faith or no faith at all. There are horrible people out there that will find any way to justify what they do.
    It's just frustrating that people insist that all muslims are bad people. We aren't.
    Also in my city yesterday they had a gathering of folks from all different backgrounds and faiths and just bonded. It was nice and everyone learned so much about each other.

    September 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  3. captain america

    Muslims should start apologizing for 9/11, and toss a ton of cash at uncle sam, so its not just a hollow gesture! In fact Muslims should pick up the tab on the national debt, as a starter for apologies!

    September 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  4. Muneef

    Who should apologize or be blamed are the One's who had created them to use them, and those who were suppose to protect the security of all Americans...!?!

    September 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  5. Muneef

    A Bedouin was asked,"How do you know your Lord?"

    The Bedouin could only reply with (The Example of) that which was before him, so he said, " Droppings tell of a Camel, Foot-Prints tell of a Traveler. The Sky, The Earth with Mountain Passes, Seas with Waves- Do they not tell of the All-Hearer, The All Seer?".

    September 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  6. khalid

    Ta hell with apologizing, as a matter of fact we need to be actively pursuing convictions for the real people involved in this criminal and evil attack on american citizens. Muslims are so busy apologizing that we should be angry as hell and hunting for the real perpetrators. Newsflash! It wasn't a caveman!!

    September 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  7. Maryam Bozai

    Damn straight.

    September 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  8. Gregory

    I get tired of people being called "racist" because they have a problem with Islam. Islam is a religion. Muslims are followers of Islam. they are NOT a race. There are Muslims of EVERY race. You don't call people who don't like Christianity or Christians "racist". I'm not condoning anything here. I'm simply asking that people use the right terms.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  9. Overdose


    September 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Gregory

      You're right. The planes smashing into buildings had nothing to do with them collapsing. In fact it made them stronger. And the moon landing didn't happen either. I've heard the moon doesn't even exist. It's a plot by the cosmos to divert our attention from what's really going on in the universe. And JFK? Puh-leaze. LBJ pulled the trigger himself. We're all being so miseld. Please show us the way, o' perceptive one!

      September 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  10. TinkTink

    Well written article, I agree just because you are muslim does not mean that you are like every other single person who claims muslim... your not a terrorist. HELLO AMERICA open your eyes and stop being judgemental idiots, theres actually life out side of the box you live it.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  11. uhhseriously

    For those of you who think that Muslim's are the only terrorists, did we all really forget about the Christian conservative Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 85 people in Norway...

    Seriously guys, read a book and stop being racist.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Larry

      Here's the problem, "Uhhseriously"....there are hundreds of confirmed attacks by Islamic terrorists, and a known, worldwide terrorist network that uses Islam as it's foundation. And you're equating that with the acts of a single crazed Christian? You ARE smart enough, aren't you, to see that the two are levels of magnitude apart, right???

      September 12, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Vince

      Larry, have you heard of the Crusades, or what happened in Bosnia, or the Holocaust, or do you blame the Muslims for that as well.

      September 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  12. Religion

    Your analogy of wine on the carpet compared to 3000 human deaths, ridiculous. Your religion is still making monsters, sure most who believe in Islam say they are a " peaceful " people but actions speak louder than words. What is it in this book of Islam that can make a human being hate so much?

    September 12, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • MomOf3

      Probably something very similar to what is in the Bible that prompts christians to hate atheists, muslims and jews...

      September 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Tired of hate

      So is there somthing in your book that can explain the witch hunts, the inquisition and the crusades. The crusades not only killed people but was used as an excuse for plundering as well. Compared to the number of Muslims killed in the era of Christianity 3000 is indeed noting more than a stain on a carpet. Let us not forget that among those 3000 there were Muslims

      September 12, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Larry

      Yes, "Mom" and "Tired of Hate", but in case you haven't been watching (and it sure looks you haven't) Christianity went through it's own violent period HUNDREDS of years ago. I mean, seriously...you don't see the difference?

      September 12, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  13. Maria

    As an European I confess im too tired to see the USA want to be the world rulers. Maybe its time for them to realise that they are just humans like the rest of us, and that in fact, the superpower of America is not that super. With all respect for the lifes taken on 09/11 how about the lifes taken on 08/06 – no memorial for them? And for all the wars they steped into just because they think they are the "owners of the truth" and therefore they can kill, ambush, make oprhans and widows – all for the greater good of the world. Of their world! Look behind and see what history teach you before you judge others. As long as Mr. Bush dont apologise the world he's not better than Osama Bin-Laden.

    September 12, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Brian

      Muslims do not ned to apologize anymore. If anything per the Bible we know that Neocons will push Israel to land grab from these muslim countries within 10-20 years. That is the whole reason our troops are in those muslim nations to keep them weak so israel can move in with little or no resistance to reclaim all of their biblical borders. So land taken from Syria and Iraq and other borderign nations will happen. So more wars? yes and it will not be the muslims fault.
      Put all the blame on neocons and neocons only.

      September 12, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Brian

      It truly is crazy what the mindset of these neocons think. I say neocon instead of American because this mindset is also in europe. They try to play the race card and it no longer works for them and their first reply is to call anyone who argues with them as a nazi. These neocons are the one who cry for more power and more wars and more justifications to get more money. They do not want to call it a war anymore instead they call it "WINNING!" Americans must WIN! USa must win for oil and war on soil which is not american soil at all. USA used to be a defensive only country but it clearly shows the neocons bul tactics are still in power. We need to remove these neocons at any and all costs to save the American soul/ideology.
      As being a nation of all colors and creeds and religions it would then behoove us to cut back on these eternal wars just for the sake of israel and christians. Put a muzzle on them. Why do you thinkIran hates us? We keep sending CIA over there. for what purpose? Just to incite more hate againts USA and Americans in general? American used to be the most loved nation among all other nations but we have capitulated to religion extrmeists called evangelicalism which incites the idea for more wars to meet the goal of a religious mindset that does not know any peace.
      If you want instant peace fire all neocons and evangelicals from the entire USA poltical process.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Armand

      Wow, ANOTHER neocon post from Brian? I heard that if you run out of rational arguments you revert to namecalling and generalizations but it's facinating to see it in action! Keep up the good work!

      September 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Gregory

      As an American I am tired of Europeans telling me what my country "wants" to be. The United States does not WANT to be the "world leader". But WE ARE. We are the wealthiest, most powerful country on the planet – just like Great Britain was 120 years ago. With that comes certain responsibilities. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. If we interfere, we're imperialists. If we don't, we're apathetic and hypocritical. Fact is, as the most powerful country in the world, we're in a tough position. No one in our position has EVER been an isolationist country. You don't become the most powerful by being one. I'm not saying this is good or bad, for better or for worse. I am just stating facts.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • snow

      RRight.. Richest country in the world.. and whats that pittance you owe.. $14.2 trillion?? just a grain of sand in your shoe?

      September 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  14. Mike

    Here a joke I heard....."What do you have if move 10 Muslims to the moon?" the answer is "a problem"....2nd question is.... "What do you have if move 1000 Muslims to the moon?" The Answer is "still have a problem"....well, the 3rd question is....What do u have if you move all the Muslims to the Moon?" "PROBLEM SOLVED"

    This is just a joke but, It wouldn't be bad idea if it became a reality.....

    September 12, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • Stpn2me

      Muslims can stop apologizing about 9/11 when whites can stop apologizing about slavery...

      September 12, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Brian

      Typical neocon mindset. Go back to Hagee cult worshipping.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Armand

      What's with all of this 'neocon' stuff from Brian? If you cannot address the comment at least don't fall into the trap of the generalized ad-Hominem as a cop-out.

      Besides, with Obama's complete and total implosion as president I don't see any room for throwing stones...

      (see how well that works and how productive it is? Can't wait for the replies!!)

      September 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  15. Armand

    Muslims don't need to apologize for 9/11, the majority of Muslims disagree with it and we know that.

    Rather than apologies, what I'd love to see is the tolorence for the extreme elements stop. I'd like to see members of a mosque turn in terrorists and terrorist leaders rather than sit quietly while they know something is going on. I'd like to see the Muslim community deal out the kind of justice we see when someone is caught stealing to those caught plotting terrorism.

    No, I don't want any apologies, they don't help, what I want is action. Stop letting your religion get hijacked by the extreme element. Take a firm stand, not just verbally (which has been weak) but with action (which has been all but non-existant). Show that the extreme elements won't be allowed to hide bendind your Mosque walls. Show that it's not acceptable and that will be all of the apology I need.

    September 12, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Grace

      When Extremist Christians stop running for office and trying to represent all of us Christians, Muslims may also be able to shed their extremist counterparts....

      September 12, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Brian


      When Extremist Christians stop running for office and trying to represent all of us Christians, Muslims may also be able to shed their extremist counterparts....

      AMEN GRACE!!!!!! Neocons are the worst of them all.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Stpn2me

      Funny you should say Christians are the worst of them all, I wonder if we tallied up all the violent acts in the last year which religion would have more? Islam hasnt progressed out of the 13th century yet and it sorely needs to. To try to equate the barbaric acts of Islam to modern day Christianity is disenginious at best and out right lies at worst...

      September 12, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Armand

      What is an "Extremist Christian"? One who blows up buildings killing 3000 people? No?

      Muslims let their religion get hijacked. Sure, speaking out against the extremists is dangerous, but if they are serious about taking their religion from the extremists that's what it will take. If Muslims don't want Americans taking action on their soil then they are going to have to take action themselves. It has been said that all it takes for evil to exist is for good men to do nothing, and that's very applicable here.

      September 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  16. salih

    You've touched a reasonable subject that many of those cannot brave enough to analyze it. It is very understanding that muslims shouldn't feel to oblige apology for 9/11. Those who responsible to 9/11 attacks are not related anything to islam. Indeed, they are not related any religon. If muslims continue to show their apologies more than any other religion, they seems likely to responsible behind this attack. People need to understand the difference between those who responsible this attack for the sake of God and those who are real muslim. Everyone need to be aware that this kind of terrorist act shouldn't harm the islam's grace and peace. Everone need to look this subject this viewpoint. Muslims around the world shouldn't be blamed for those attacks. Otherwise, terrorists win. This is the way that terrorists want people to think this ideology. People have to stop finding scapegoat for the terrorist attacks like the 9/11.

    September 12, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Jack von Bauer

      "Those who responsible to 9/11 attacks are not related anything to islam. "

      That is an outright LIE.

      Why do Muslims keep lying about this. Oh yes, because the Koran tells them too.

      September 12, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  17. Jack von Bauer

    The "article" is self-serving junk. The guy cannot even get the idea that there are "white" Muslims, or that Islam is a religion not an "ethnic race."

    Sounds kinda RACIST to me. He must think all Christians are "white" too.

    And I haven't heard ANY Muslim "apologize" for 9/11. I've heard lots celebrating it though. Seen it on TV. Only YESTERDAY in Pakistan.

    I hope he's funnier than he's knowledgeable.

    September 12, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  18. lara issa

    This is a great article and its sooo true! i loved every idea you have you really described the situation thoroughly!

    September 12, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Abdullah

      I haven't been compelled to write on this before until reading this terrible article. I am fairly annoyed by what I hope was the unintended arrogance of the original writer. How can you claim that 19 people all agreeing they speak for an entire basis of faith are wrong, and yet turn and speak for an entire faith yourself.

      You apologize for the fact there are other humans so delusional in their belief structure as to think that destroying the lives of innocent humans is a good, noble, moral, honorable or justifiable act. Humans whom appear to have shared something in common with us, faith. And that YOU as a fellow Muslim will prove to do what is in your power to never allow it to happen again. But then again, you shouldn't be bothered by such dribble. If the people of the world don't understand by now it was a mistake, they are obviously, what was that term you used? Oh yes, they are dumb! I mean hey, it's been 10 years already!.

      Using your mentality perhaps there is no need for Whites to apologize for the slavery of Blacks. Or how about the peoples of the United States to apologize for the millions of Native Americans that were destroyed during colonization. Entire cultures wiped out, hell that was hundreds of years ago.

      Should I even mention Nazi Germany?

      Or perhaps there is no apology needed for the millions of Hindu that were slaughtered during the Islamic invasion of India, because they were infidels and refused to convert. Another cherry picked interpretation of the Holy Book.

      In fact... I think there is no need for any Arab peoples or even Muslims for that matter to get their panties in a twist over the whole "Crusades" thing. The atrocities committed during that faux pas were so long ago who should even have a right to be upset anymore!

      We apologize because we don't agree. We apologize because we care. We apologize because we won't stand by and let other people suffer for the selfishness, intolerance, arrogance or delusions of fellow humans and then tell them to buck up, it was 10 years ago already! Move on!

      We prove we are better. We assure those around us EVERY DAY that we actually care about the well being of each other enough to share in their hurts, to try, sometimes to no avail to ease their pains, or to promote being decent to each other despite all of our wonderful differences.

      But most of all we do it to show that regardless of the idiocy displayed by humans acting on behalf of whatever cherry picked delusion, we will never give up. We will never allow it to be forgotten. We will always try to stamp out the evils of this world no matter what veil they may travel behind.

      I doubt there will ever be ENOUGH apology.

      My take.

      September 12, 2011 at 6:05 am |
  19. Think Thoroughly, Listen Closely, Ask Questions, Be Humbe

    People of all faith & ethnicities know suffering. That is the world we live in. It is sad, but unchangeable.
    I pray for my enemies. They are victims of the deceptiveness of sin, as are all of us. The world is so complicated, it is difficult to pinpoint the fault of the world's crimes.
    We all struggle with trust.
    Religion has both been tied to problems in the world, but also bringing hope & relief to the world (and not just spiritually, but physically as well).
    People of all faiths still currently experience persecution.
    I am a Christian. I was not born into a Christian family. My son's first day care provider was a Muslim. I have deep respect for the Jewish roots behind my faith, as my wedding ring has a Hebrew saying engraved on it.
    I cannot easily explain religious books that seems to endorse violence.
    But here is what I know, most people don't apologize enough. They justify their coolness & emotional barriers.
    There is a lack of compassion.
    I understand why war & capital punishment happen in this imperfect world.
    But I don't understand why apologies can't happen more.
    I apologize for all atrocities ever committed,, whether my race or religion is guilty of them or not. I apologize for my own sins & unkindness I've displayed in my life.

    September 12, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • kevin


      September 12, 2011 at 4:56 am |
  20. Mohammed Ali!

    Cool story bro. Maybe you should create a law about it. Until then, we are all in the same boat. So don't think since you are Muslim that you are higher than anyone else.

    September 12, 2011 at 2:00 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.