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. DVG

    So which is it? Do you want readers to "Grab a copy of the Quran from a library and find out for [them]selves" or to
    "put down the Quran and pick up a book on HTML programming and Flash"?

    You don't want to see, or be botherd by, the real world, Aman. Were a zealous Christian group to do a 9/11 event somewhere AND were as many Christians across the world who cheered it as there were Muslims who cheered 9/11 (and still do), then Christianity, and all Christians, would be constantly questioned, and suspected, about what they believed.

    This IS an Islam issue, Aman, your preference that it not be notwithstanding. Perhaps the best thing you can do is incorporate it into your comedy routines, and you can only "thank" a great many Muslims for that.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • GreatRead

      Read "Sword of the Prophet"
      Great insight....from a non-politically correct standpoint...

      September 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • what

      Such as the Oklahoma City bombing? (Carried out by a white Christian male.) Start apologizing...

      September 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  2. Thor

    Verse 9:123 – "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you."

    Yes, this is in the Koran. I gave you the reference. Make your own decision: You are either with us, or .... against us.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Dr. John

      Sorry to say this but sane people are not with you or against you, you are in a league of your own. The actual translation of the verse is:
      "O ye who believe! fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that God is with those who fear Him".
      This verse instrtucts the Muslims of the time of Muhammad that you no longer need to keep silent to the attacks from the unbelievers of that era who were bound to kill the Muslims.
      The best analogy in this case is "We, Americans, as believers of peace and freedom, are allowed to fight against Al Qaeda (the unbelievers of peace and freedom) with all our might".
      Thor, there are 500+ verses in the Koran that a few organisations in North America and Europe have compiled in such a way that when partially or wrongly quoted, it will protray Islam as a violent religion. They rely heavily on spreading this message through individuals (including politicians) and other organisatoins because, for them, an average person will not make the effort of contacting Muslims and learning about Islam from the correct sources. And Yes, I know what I am talking about because unfortunately I worked with them in the past.
      One of the prime example on how to capiitalize on people's ignorance about Islam is the ground zero mosque. It is cultural center like the YMCA, open for all residents of New York, and it has a swimming pool in it. If you ask a Muslim to build a swimming pool in a mosque, they will laugh (as a matter of fact, a swimming pool in a Church and Synagogue is unthinkable).

      September 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  3. Ricadona

    First of all, the so called Muslims that did the worst act of terrorism on 9/11 are not what the majority of Muslims believe!!!
    They are fanatics and took Islam to another level!! The same way you have people who are in cults take religion to a whole different level. What they believed is not what the majority of Muslims in the world believe. "True" muslims believe in peace.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Thor

      The difference is: Americans quickly captured, tried, and convicted for example the Oklahoma terrorist.... Muslims have failed.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  4. "He's Dead Jim."

    What kind of sap wants an apology for anything? "I'm sorry" "I know." "You ARE sorry." I get it. A change in the behavior that offended in the first place has value. Sorry is just a word or a description of someone's state of being. Those terrorists who blow people up sure are some sorry ass individuals.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Thor

      A Muslim being sorry for an act that kills non-Muslims is impossible. It is what they do.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  5. "He's Dead Jim."

    muslims should just come out of the closet and be who they really are. Can't hide yourselves or your true hatred of Freedom forever. Go home if you don't like us. We don't need you.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  6. KAR

    When did they apologize? I must have missed that...

    September 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Thor

      ...wait... didn't they apologize when they thought that the United States implied that Pakistan forces could not be trusted when hunting bin Laden?.... oh no... maybe not... they were just lying about how they COULD be trusted. Oh yeah .. that was it.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Chad

      @ KOR and Thor

      Maybe you two should take off your klan hoods and you'd be able to hear better.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  7. JP

    I agree Muslims should not be blamed or asked to apologise for 9/11, but white people shouldn't be blamed or asked to apologise for slavery, genocide against Native Americans, or other racist crimes that whites committed in the past either.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Thor

      Christian people find christian criminals, arrest christian criminals, try christian criminals, convict christian criminals, and execute christian criminals. There has not been one single Muslim arrest, by another Muslim "extremist", who has been connected with the September 11 attacks. Not one. In fact, the United States had to keep the location and plan of attack a secret, when hunting Osama Bin Ladin! How dare the Muslims claim innocence in this. ALL MUSLIMS are guilty until they ACTIVELY declare jihad against those Muslims who do terrorism.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Dr. John

      Good one Thor! who captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and tons of other top brass of the AlQaeda? It was Pakistan's government. And yes, they have lost more than 30,000 troops in the fight against terrorism, way more than ours (8000+) troops.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Thor

      Dr John. Oops! Perhaps you forgot to mention that those captures were ONLY done AFTER US forces were involved. Pakistan would NEVER have done anything when the US was in their face MAKING them do it. Try again!

      September 13, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Thor

      Correction: "when the US was in their face " should be "unless the US was in their face "

      September 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  8. "He's Dead Jim."

    "Islamophobic" not far from a term supposedly born from the mouths of the muslim brotherhood – Islamophobe. I think the person who wrote this article is with the muslim brotherhood. Why should you apologize? We who are in our right minds do not want your apologies. We just want the people responsible for terrorism to cease their retard behavior, and go to work and pay the bills like the rest of the world's most "sane" responsible citizens. Your people's apology to people like me have no value. Fairly or otherwise I attach all muslims to the behavior of the few. I only respect people who truly love freedom and prefer that all peoples in the world have it. Look at how oppressive the islamic governments are and look at all of the wars which are being fought for the advancing of the muslim cause. Your book may not be so violent and it may not call for war but, it IS being used to those ends. So deal with it. Some of us read the news and know who the biggest bullies, liars, dictators are. We don't want, need or care about your apologies, you or your dumb religion. I think all religion is dumb and people should embrace freedom as their belief.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Chad

      You want everyone to be free yet you cast blame on an entire group of people. Where's the freedom in that. Where's the freedom from being blamed for the actions of another? Somewhere along the way your logic took a right turn into stupid.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  9. Thor

    So why has it been so difficult to capture the "extremists" who were responsible for all the worlds' sufferings by Muslim jihadists? Why then, have Muslim clerics failed to tell their congregations that they must truly demonstrate peace by turning over the "few" terrorists who claim they do this in the name of their god? Why oh why then do each and every one of the "extremist Muslim" attackers scream "God is great!" right as they do their evil deed? You expect all non-Muslims to believe your lies perpetuated in the media that you are so innocent as Muslims, when indeed, you ALL have a goal in common: to take over the world and make it Muslim or kill everyone who won't convert, or, die trying. You Muslims are the braintrust of this centurys evil and lies. .... and we non-Muslims know it. .... oh, and by the way, no appology will make up for all of the death and evil you do, either in deed or in word.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  10. Akim

    I'm a Muslim. I never been apologetic, and never will be. To me some criminals did this horrible act. Those Individuals who did or were behind this horrible act need to be punished severely that in future no one would dare to even think about it.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Thor

      ...then your clerics must declare jihad on those people and have the entire Muslim faith turn all of them over to be punished.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Dr. John

      Yes,Thor, the clerics have declared jihad on those who kill innocent people. Not everyone follows the cleric, like us Christians, all of us do not follow the Pope, priests, pastors, etc., otherwise, there would be no crime committed in the Western Christian countries.

      And asking clerics to turn over the extremists will only work if we are capable of turning rapists, murderers, thugs, criminals, etc to the law enforcement agencies; they (the criminals in our western worlds) all live amongst us and still we cannot identify them. Probably the reason might be that criminals do NOT advertise who they are and what their intent is to the general public. Common sense really helps over here ......

      September 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  11. Jenny

    Thank you so much for your article. I'm not Muslim, but have friends who are. I get so enraged at the misinformation, fear, and ignorance that still pervades in this country ten years later.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Thor

      You should be so naive. Muslims are all guilty until they declare jihad against the "Muslim extremeists" who do their evil. Until the clerics of the Muslim faith perpetuate the pursuit and capture of ALL who are even remotely connected with terrorism, they are ALL against non-Muslim. ....either with us.... or against us.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Dr. John

      Yes,Thor, the clerics have declared jihad on those who kill innocent people. Not everyone follows the cleric, like us Christians, all of us do not follow the Pope, priests, pastors, etc., otherwise, there would be no crime committed in the Western Christian countries.

      And asking clerics to turn over the extremists will only work if we are capable of turning rapists, murderers, thugs, criminals, etc to the law enforcement agencies; they (the criminals in our western worlds) all live amongst us and still we cannot identify them. Probably the reason might be that criminals do NOT advertise who they are and what their intent is to the general public. Common sense really helps over here ......

      And Jenny, you are not naive. You just happened to meet Muslims and understand them better rather than relying on the media and other anti-American islamophobic chatter. There are people who spread hate against American Muslims, and, extremists use this to recruit people who eventually harm our people and our troops. Our actions can harm our own people.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Chad

      @ Thor

      Do you love freedom? From your statement I can guess not. Here in the US we have a little thing called innocent until proven guilty.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  12. Naser


    September 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Thor

      Trying to diffuse or divert won't help you in your argument. It is a FACT that Muslims did this. Don't EVEN try to lie that this was not done by MUSLIMS.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  13. 11TailWolf

    Aman, dont worry about all these haters. I know what you are saying. I am not a muslim myself, but i still find some peoples actions and comments disgusting. But what i think one of the problems is that the media dosn't report on muslums dislike for terrorism. All we see is the negative stuff which dosn't help. I mean, have you guys seen the 700 Club lately? Hang in there my friend.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Thor

      No hate here. Just recognize that it is a matter of non-Muslim survival to identify a group that is out to destroy all who are not Muslim. Muslims are the real haters. The Koran teaches to kill all non-muslims who don't convert. Read it yourself.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Dr. John

      THor, its not hate but its ignorance causing hate. Those who have read the Koran about that verse very well know what the pre-text was. The best analogy is that if killing OBL who are bound enemies of the west and will not stop killing innocent people and the only way to stop them is to kill them.
      If Muslims were ordered to kill non-muslims, then you will not find minorities in those countries. India would have been the largest Muslim country. The fact is that minorties were allowed to freely practice their beliefs. Same goes to the Christians nations conquering the world. Most of the British and French colonies were Islamic lands that still has Muslims and non-Muslims in it. Look at the Spanish, they conquered south and central Americas and...oops, wrong example. The fact is that people do crazy things in the name of their religion.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Rayan

    If there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and 99.999999999 percent of them were not involved in the terror attacks of 9/11, I guess that means that exactly 1.5 hundredths of one person was responsible. hm..... this article has left me with far more questions than answers. Which hundredth of which Muslim was responsible?? Was it someone's toenail? Maybe an earlobe? Further... how did a single earlobe manage to not only plan all these attacks on its own... but simultaneously hijack 4 different planes?? That's one talented portion of a person! Muslims are scarier than I thought.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • 11TailWolf

      Wow Rayan good job, you must be really good at math, good for you. At this point it must be your only good skill. Maybe one day you will learn to have a reasonable argument but i am not holding my breath.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • JP

      Rayan's post was obviously a joke. And a funny one.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  15. Math Wizard

    Really? What percentage of Muslims are responsible for 9-11 then? Because if you do the math, you're saying that 9-11 was pulled off by less than 2 one-hundredths of a single person.

    Also, I don't recall any Muslims actually "apologizing" for it. I see an enormous amount of them; however, still blaming the United States for the attack, INCLUDING Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf. The one that wants to build a "victory" mosque at Ground Zero.

    It's time for a fact check, and maybe some personal insight. How much do you actually know about Islam? Tell me about Mohammad. Tell me about his wife. Was 8 the age of consent back then? Right.. that's what I thought, you didn't even know about that part of your religion. Perhaps you should call it "The Religion of Ignorance" instead of "The Religion of Peace".

    Islam has more extremists per capita than any other religion. THAT is why it's dangerous.

    September 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • KAR

      I read a report that was saying how a very large percentage of the Muslims can not read or write. My question is then how do they know what the Koran says?

      September 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Thor

      Verse 9:123 – "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you." That's all of the Koran I need to know!

      September 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  16. sumanadevii

    There is no need for an apology. You nor those of your faith are responsible. Terrorist have one faith...It is called evil.

    September 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • KAR

      No I am sure they called it Muslim. Yes, that is what they said.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  17. Peaceful

    Okay then stop apologizing and start introspecting. Why is it that muslims refer to their religion as peaceful, but whenever there are conflicts (forget US but even in middle east, Russia, India, China), that instead of communicating the problems, talking to other party, that muslims start blowing up people in schools, trains and worshiping places? All comments here by muslim brothers are pointing fingers to others... okay, no body is perfect but non of them are blowing up people. Coming from India, we are afraid to even be in crowded places because you dont know when the next bomb is going off. And dont give me the crap about Hindus.... We have 7 main religions living happily in the country, including the peaceful Bohra muslims (which some muslims dont consider to be muslims due to their openness), that migrated to India hundreds of years back.

    September 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • sumanadevii

      You have a serious problem if you believe Muslims are responsible for the acts of terrorists. Sad. Just sad. A little education may help you but I doubt it. Some people have closed minds. It is people exactly the likes of you that are the cause of wars. Why not blame Christians for slavery? I sure didn't hear Jesus speak up for them or women. Was he too much of a wuss?

      September 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Babu Ram

      I don’t agree with your willy-nilly utterances. However, you forgot to mention about the radical Hindu chauvinists, who even today believe in birth-based caste system, are perpetrating heinous crimes against the so-called low castes and outcastes Dalits. Consequently, the lower caste Hindus are forced to live in cluttered ghetto life in India. Even today unspeakable atrocities and outrages perpetrated against the hapless creatures belong to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Therefore, majority of Dalit Hindu are compelled to lead a pathetic life of segregation, oppression, wretched squalor and self-diminution for centuries together.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Peaceful

      sumanadevii and Babu Ram,
      You need to come out of your madarassas and learn GOOD things about this WORLD!! yeah, there is a world outside that thinks differently than you.

      As for Hindus, the Caste system is overblown out of proportion to put Hindus in bad place. I am not hindu. I grew up in India and have NEVER seen discrimination because of caste system.
      Now you can relax about lower caste hindus, and try to do some INTROSPECTION!!

      September 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  18. Frankly Speaking..

    Exactly my point..Commendable work!

    September 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  19. Truth Hurts

    The majority of muslims are not terrorists.
    However, the majority of terrorists are muslim.

    Truth Hurts.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • R U sure?

      False. Over the last 20 or so years, suicide bombers, for example, happen to be from non-Muslim, non-Arab countries – see Tamil Tigers

      September 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Truth is In the Eye of the Beholder

      @Truth Hurts:

      That statement is akin to concurring with the following:
      The majority of whites are not racists.
      However, the majority of racists are white.

      Sometimes, truth is in the eye of the beholder.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Math Wizard

      Go get your statistics and check again. Also, make a note of what metric you're using. Because if you're going by a flat head count, the facts ARE in his favor.

      Number of suicide bombings? What's the Tamil Tiger count? about 200. What's the count in Afghanistan? 239, and that was just for 2008.
      Sources: about (dot) com and the UN Refugee Agency.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  20. Muslim

    I still see a lot of people talking about Islam without reading about it .

    September 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
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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.