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. News Runner

    I LOVE YOU HAHAHAHAHAa you hit it right on the money! 2 kudos or "likes" on this comment!

    September 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • derp

      you have my sincerest apology on behalf of white ppl everywhere for nickleback releasing a new album.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  2. nothinyahu

    I think Christians need to apologize for the Pope and his preachers molesting young chidren,,, until then they cannot be trusted.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • SMK

      I think way to many people rush to judge the many for the actions of the few. Every race, every religion, every sector of the population has murderers, terrorists, rapists, and people who use power and faith to oppress others. What is the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the term Catholic Priest? Are the Muslims known for killing doctors at abortion clinics – or is that the Christians? If you look into all religions you will find that fraction of a percent that tarnish the image of the entire following

      September 13, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Brian Macker

      Christianity doesn't advocate molesting children (unlike Islam) so no apology required. Just like MLK and his supporters do not need to apologize for violence during the '60s because he was not advocating it. Jesus and his followers do not need to apologize for child molestation. On the other hand Mohammad advocated such behavior and practiced it.

      Plus there are many Imams and Islamic countries that advocate child molestation (child brides) and make it legal. So Muslims do have some questions to answer. Like why do you venerate a criminal and a religion that advocates such crimes.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  3. Meat Puppet

    Lip service is not an apology – actions speak louder then words. Really don't remember hearing the apologies referenced by the author – quite the contrary – the silence from the Muslim's was deafening.
    Muslims need to take back their religion and rid themselves of the lunatic fringe – until then they are not to be trusted

    September 13, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Cody

      Christians and Catholics have not apologized enough for the numerous people they have killed in the name of their god.

      Let's not even get into how many innocent women were killed because they were witches! Witches had every right to live and the Salem Witch Trials was an act of terrorism against our OWN PEOPLE. Christian's and Catholic's still have not shown any action to apologize for what they did to those poor, innocent souls.

      See what I did there?

      September 13, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Brian Macker

      Pope John Paul has apologized for the Inquisition. As for witches, well most present day Christian sects do not believe in witches so they really have nothing to apologize for. Their religious sects do not in fact advocate the burning of witches. The bible is easily interpreted as not advocating such because of the sermon on the mount.

      But surely some Christians (long dead ones) have a lot to answer about for the burning of witches. There are some African Christian sects that still believe in witchcraft and the burning of witches so they certainly have something to answer for.

      Many atheist (and other non-Christians) do in fact throw witch burnings in the face of Christians.

      However, that does not get Muslims off the hook. Look up the Tu Quoque Fallacy.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  4. Kathy

    Agree. Enough with the labels already. Its not fair and its inaccurate. Its unmerited fear from small minds. I for one will not feed into it.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  5. Robert

    Islam is an affront to humanity and has been since its inception. Until Islam reforms itself into a modern "religion" from a religious/political death cult, there will never be peace.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  6. Sarah

    I agree with you and the sentiment of the article, but I couldn't help but be mildly appalled at your use of the Nickelback joke. Juxtaposing a national tragedy with poorly-written mediocre rock music? Really? I know that was likely an attempt at humor but it fell flat. Mention Tim McVeigh and multiple other non-Muslim men that have caused harm. Don't satirize the death and horror of hundreds of people.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  7. Muneef

    Millions of Russian Muslims are celebrating Eid ul-Fitr on Tuesday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
    In Moscow mosques were not able to accommodate all worshippers, so people poured into streets and lanes.
    The solution has been to allow the people to pray right outside in the street, despite the disapproval of some residents.


    September 13, 2011 at 7:09 am |
  8. wilson


    September 13, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • tiger

      Your "CAPS LOCK" is on. Just press it one time and it will be OK!!

      September 13, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  9. AYP

    9/11 could be justified if US involvement around the world is taken under consideration. Instead of calling muslims for apologies americans should start apologizing crimes they have committed around the globe. It was not just 9/11 when civilians died! they die every day around the world and US is involved in it and US citizens who pay for such crimes.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:57 am |
  10. Noel

    Islamophobia is the "unnatural" fear of Islam, as such, there's no such thing.

    to date, I haven't seen or read an apology...but I've been cursed, accused, denigrated, marginalized and otherwise treated like a second class citizen in my own country, for being white and Christian. To the view of many many Americans, this article is simply another denigration of Americans and a "shift of outrage and blame" back to the victims, instead of the perpetrators. The problem with this entire affair isn't White Christian America...and I for one won't tolerate being asked to apologize to the cult mentality that thinks they can shift the blame away from themselves. Don't like it? Move, but don't sit and whine about being a victim...of your own creation.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Noel is a member of the Kind Kristians Klub

      You poor oppressed white man. Some might find it lame pathetic that a white guy would play the victim, but I applaud you for standing up and letting the world know how you white Christians feel.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • AYP

      Since you are Christen... why don't you apologize for Hitler's crime again 6million civilians?

      September 13, 2011 at 3:00 am |
    • internationalman

      I want you, personally, to apologize to everyone in Vietnam, North Korea (South Korea too – even the US government admitted that there were incidents where the US army just massacred all South Koreans who were seeking refugee), for Van der Sloot, to all African Americans, to all the Koreans, Indians, Mexicans, and all other foreigners that were murdered by hate crime on U.S. soil.
      In fact, every single time you meet someone who is not "white Christian", I want you to start the conversation and end it with "I am sorry".
      By the way, I wasn't aware that the U.S was still a "white Christian" nation.

      September 13, 2011 at 6:09 am |
  11. Mia

    I'm Singaporean and I'm a Muslim. Till this day, Islamophobia was something that I have only heard about and never experienced because my country is a multi-religious multi-cultural nation of tolerance. But now, reading these comments, I can feel what other Muslims are going through. Just reading the comments, make me feel sad for how ignorant and judging some people can be.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Brian Macker

      You haven't experienced islamophobia because it doesn't exist. A phobia is an irrational fear. It's not irrational for non-Muslims to fear Islam. Islam is a very credible threat for non-Muslims. 1) It advocates that Muslims commit bad acts against non-Muslims under the color of law, and divine sanction. 2) It sets up double standards for Muslims vs. non-Muslims. 3) It interprets natural friction between groups as persecution of Muslims, and justification for disproportionate retribution.

      I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  12. Altee11

    Islamic Society of North America has its roots in a middle-eastern hate group named the Islamic Brotherhood, which spawned Ayman al Zawahiri., The Council on American-Islamic Relations advocates thwarting the FBI investigations of criminals because they are of Islamic background; it would be like a Jewish organization opposing an investigation of Bernie Madoff just because he is Jewish; or a Catholic Organization opposing an investigation of Al Capone because of his Catholic background. It does not make sense; it is wrong.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  13. Megan B.

    I completely understand where this writer is coming from.
    I'm christian, and have seen many other christians condemning other people via angry signs. Call me liberal, but I just don't feel that it's fair to call another human being a sinner when we all have sins of our own. I HAVE tried apologizing, actually, but some people just seem to think that all christians are that way.
    Muslims have it far worse, in my opinion. Some supposed muslims decided to do something that other muslims absolutely did not agree with. For us to still be biased against muslims is un-American.

    September 13, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  14. Sanjay Sood

    Aman Ali (Email: aman@amanali.net, Phone: 330-221-9200) is just playing the 'I am offended so are other muslims' card to try to gain sympathy for Islam, a case which has no merit. Aman is trying to deflect the attention to HTML and RAP and all other nonsense, which absolutely makes sense, why he is doing this.

    Islam as we all know is the most barbaric and outdated religion for current times. My Niece's classmate a girl of 16 was killed by his dad in Iselin, NJ and the body was quickly cremated as a suicide after this guy found out that she went out with her School mates among which there were also a couple of boys.

    I have not seen any Islamofascists apologizing for what Islam has done on 9/11 and by the way did you guys forget all the celebrations in the middle east on 9/12?

    Shame on you Aman and Shame on CNN for publishing this rabid article.

    September 13, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Dahlia

      Oh please, shame on you!

      September 13, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • AYP

      Interesting Hindu commenting on Islam... India is full of crappy practices and human rights violation in the name of Hinduism! who allows to commit crimes like "satti" ? treat women as Witch? just google.

      No Appologies for Muslims... Muslims will remain proud on what and who they are.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:43 am |
    • Chad

      Sanjay Sood wrote "My Niece's classmate a girl of 16 was killed by his dad in Iselin, NJ and the body was quickly cremated as a suicide after this guy found out that she went out with her School mates among which there were also a couple of boys." Which was it, a girl or a boy? If you're going to tell lies remember to keep your facts straight.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  15. Sam

    Reminds me a little of the old Lenny Bruce routine about deicide–Jews are accused of killing the
    Christian God. Bruce suggests that Christians say the problem is that Jews just won't own up to it, so he writes a note: I did it. I'm sorry. Morty Some of the postings here show that bigotry is non-denominational. These are people who simply don't get it. By contrast, George Washington got it. When asked by the Jewish congregation of Newport, RI what the new nation expected of them, he replied that they were to obey the law and participate in the democracy, same as everybody else. I have no doubt that he would have written a similar response had a mosque asked him.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  16. C.J. Johnson

    Hello Aman Ali! I have never heard a Muslim apologize for 9-11. Instead, Muzzammil Hassan was charged with murder in the death of his wife, Aasiya Hassan. Also, another Muslim man killed his pregnant wife and two daughters in a suspected honor killing. Police suspect that the man most likely believed that his wife was having an affair and shot the daughters, ages 14 and 16, as they tried to save their mother. Muslims are bringing barbarism with them to America in the name of religion. Your Sharia law and American Freedoms do not mix. This is not Pakistan!
    So much for a religion of peace.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • AGuest9


      September 12, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Chad

      So no white, black, yellow, green , blue, etc. person ever killed their spouse because they thought they were having an affair? Muslims did not invent domestic violence. Go back to the drawing board and rethink a new reason to support your idiotic hatred.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  17. Brian Macker

    "So why should I or any other Muslim apologize for what happened?"

    Because you venerate the man, Mohammad, who advocated such behavior in a book called the Qur'an. A book that defames non-Muslims, denigrates them, and calls for their subjugation or extermination. A book that is claimed by Muslims to be the non-contradictory, final, unchangeable, and infallible word of Allah. If you go around believing that and instructing children to believe that then some are actually bound to read it and follow the instructions therein. So you do bear some responsibility.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • ...

      yet the bible also has many horrible things in it too very similar to what you just said, if you are christian then by your logic you must explain all of that

      September 12, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • AGuest9

      As much as I agree with ... in principle, I don't see catholics meeting in church basements to discuss bomb-making, or baptists plotting the overthrow of the government. Not that the history of the religion is any more peaceful, but for a moment, let's focus on the present.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • salman

      if you actually read the Qur'an, you'd know that it says to be courteous to other religions. it even says that the bible and torah are also rightly guided books of God. we don't wanna blow anything up.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Brian Macker

      The few places I saw where the Quran makes reasonable statements it is because Mohammad is trying to save his own hide. They were from when he and his followers were weak, and usually paraphrasing other religions beliefs back at them to protect himself. The idea that he was tolerant of other religions is baloney. From the very start he was trespassing in the temples of the idolators and denouncing their beliefs right in front of their shrines. He later called for their complete extermination and completed a program of genocide against them and their religion on the Saudi Peninsula. Luckily he was poisoned by one of his victims before he was able to go further.

      The only religions he gave a pass were two, Judaism and Christianity, and he wasn't truly tolerant to them either and his motivations are obvious. He stated that followers of both could live but only if they paid tribute to Muslims.
      He had all sorts of devious tricks up his sleeve like claiming that the Quran was written first at the beginning of time and that Christians and Jews had corrupted it to create the Bible and Torah. Claiming that all past heros and prophets were actually Muslims, but that their messages had been corrupted, and that he was giving the true and final word.

      So you can find passsages that sort of sound tolerant but it is the kindness of the slaughterhouse. Treat the animals well as the proceed down the chute to the harvest.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Brian Macker

      Mr or Mrs. Dot, dot, dot.

      "yet the bible also has many horrible things in it too very similar to what you just said, if you are christian then by your logic you must explain all of that"

      If I were a Christian (I'm not) then I would have to explain why Christ was a pacifiist who advocated turning the other cheek and not throwing the first stone. That is quite unlike Mohammad's life. He committed crimes of almost every possible category. Muslims will have a much harder time explaining why they venerate one of the worst criminals in history.

      There is also a big difference between telling a horrible story and advocating violence. Much of the violence in the bible is due to God commanding specific Jewish kings to attack specific historic tribes. This presents no danger to anyone in the present. It is quite unlike the violent passages in the Qur'an which read as eternal commandments to all Muslims with regard to groups of people who are around today.

      Christianity has certain aspects such as the Sermon on the Mount that tend to ameliorate the violent old testament passages, whereas Islam has to opposite, abrogation which tends to emphasize that later more violent commandments of Mohammad.

      There is also a difference in that according to Islamic doctrine the Qur'an was written by Allah, where as Christianity takes the view that the bible was written by men and only inspired by God.

      I certainly would hold a fundamentalist Christian responsible for a gay lynching if that particular sect taught that the bible is infallible, and did not make sure to stress some peaceful interpretation of anti-gay language in the bible.

      If some from the Westboro Baptist Church were to lynch a gay person I think the church and it's members could certainly be held responsible. You couldn't hold responsible those Christians who teach that the bible is a fallible work of man, and that the old testament has been superseded by the new.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  18. HateReligion

    Can't agree with you more! Christians will flat out REFUSE to remotely address ANY ills perpetrated by Christians, be they slavery, genocide, or black men being drug behind a truck to death.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  19. sanjosemike

    This is almost funny. You're complaining because FELLOW Muslims caused 911, and you have to "answer" questions about it?

    Join the real world. This actually happened. People are curious about you and your religion. In most cases it is not more complex than that...a matter of normal curiosity.

    I don't feel you need to apologize MORE about 911. How about the xenophobic cultures of Shia Iran? How about the Sunni vs. Shi'a wars that have been going on since 632? How come fellow Muslims blow up and bomb Mosques? Even the Israelis don't do that. Does Hadith demand that the World accept Shariah Law under pain of death? How about the fact that over 50% of Muslim females are illiterate and slaves to their husbands? How about the fact that the greatest victims of Jihad and terrorism are FELLOW Muslims!

    You don't have to apologize to me about 9/11. I'm nore interested in your answering those above questions.


    September 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Razorbath

      Um theres about 25,000 Jews who live in Iran and was even a Jewish member of the Iranian parliament.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Answer

      Here's your answer:
      Ignorance of the real religion. Shia and Sunni rivalry has increased ever since the West stepped into Middle Eastern countries, ask Iraqi Christians how much brotherhood there was in Iraq before the US came in, no one knew who was Shia and who was Sunni. Why do Muslims blow up mosques and kill each other? Ignorance, is all I can tell you. There is no justification, so you'll never find the answer you're looking for. It's how Catholics slaughtered Christians who weren't following Catholicism. 50% of females are illiterate and slaves under their husbands? Okay, I don't know where that percentage is from, but it's inaccurate with Islam. Every Muslim is required to attain knowledge, and Muslim women were among the first women to have the right to divorce. The greatest victims of terrorism are Muslims, I am aware, and it is sad.

      Islam does not think the world should live by Shariah law. Shariah law is only to be followed by Muslims, and in Islam it says that the entire world cannot and will not be Muslim. Hence, no one is forcing Shariah law. I follow it, my neighbors don't. And according to Shariah, I have to accept my neighbors and treat them like my own family.


      September 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Brian Macker

      Dear Answer,

      Your comment was full of inaccuracies but the funniest was "no one knew who was Shia and who was Sunni." Those two groups have been at each others throats for a millenia and yo blame it on the US. Get real. In Iraq the Sunni minority had gained control over the entire country and were oppressing the Shia. Which is exactly why they took revenge when the US helped them overthrow their oppressors.

      Yes, the entire world was singing Kumbaya in harmony until the US got involved. Pick up a history book please. In fact the reason why the Europeans in general had such an easy time colonizing much of the world was because non-Europeans were at each others throats all the time. All they had to do was tip the balance. Nor did Europe invent colonization. Muslims invaded and colonized Europe long before Europe returned the favor.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  20. Katie

    Great piece! Trying to get people to understand that the majority of Muslims don't want to kill all Americans and instate Sharia law is like screaming at a wall. You can give them all the proof in the world, but just like any conspiracy theorist, they won't listen to what they don't want to hear. No need to cater to their pathetic inability to understand the world.

    September 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
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About this blog

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