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. OJ

    I am a Muslim, and I never did apologize. What some people did in the name of Islam, Christianity, or another ideology neither represents it or represent the majority. I never asked a Christian to apologize for Bosnia, so I don't apologize for 9/11.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • juan carr

      Oj I have a question I excepted Jesus Christ as my sin bearer, 7years ago or so and Ive come to realize that my greatest threat to my faith is my own flesh, this so called battle in my mind, Ive come so far in seeing a good difference in my life and in the life of my house hold as my current wife and I were already both on our 2nd marraige, and we were almost divorced do to my selfishness and pride, Now what I find intresting is that no matter what state our faith is in we as humans have families get divorces or split up are selfish are prideful kids die parents die do to illness or accidents, war what have you, so we live normal lives, But my question is can you identify with this state of self rightousness among your people as I do among my own? and how does that sit with you? you dont have to answer the 2nd question if you dont want to, thank you,

      September 17, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • paul

      Why blame the very complex situation in Bosnia on Christians? The truth is that 911 was done by muslims in the name of their allah god. I'm sure they yelled allah akbar while flying into the Towers. Lots of muslims danced and partied and rejoiced upon hearing the news. But then they paid and paid and will continue to pay for such an attack.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  2. whizzo

    Hey! I like nickelback.

    September 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  3. Guest

    The comments are so disappointing. As an American who is a muslim and was born in Iran I know you will never accept me deep in your heart and that is ok. But please don't think we are all terrorists. We love our children, just like you do. We want to live free (in America), just like you do. We want to be happy and provide for our familes, just like you do. The terrorists have killed more muslims than any other. Please don't think we are sectretly backing them up because we are looking after you instead. I am signing in as Guest today to share something with you. Who do you think translates all the chatter, the papers and the phone calls? Although I respect the Americans who learn the language, our languages are just too colorful to learn in any schools. Yes, we are also a part of this war. And no I don't do it for you. I do it for me and my family. We are American.So next time you see one us in the street, please don't be afraid. Please smile back at us, we are Americans too.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Chad

      Wonderful statement. I can tell you that you have nothing to fear from me as I have nothing to fear from you.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Emily

      Well said!!!

      September 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  4. dudeman

    Stop apologizing? I never once heard an apology. I have heard a lot of defensiveness though.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  5. Oi

    Another shining example of the real Islam. youtubedotcom/watch?v=2rgSH0h45Eo

    So, someone was saying that Islam is a religion of peace? LMAO!!

    September 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  6. Oi

    Despite whatever "moderate" Muslims state here, here is what Islam is really about. Just go to YouTubedotcom//watch?v=qHgrjceI6S4 and see for yourself.

    September 16, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  7. Daniel

    1% of the muslims are terrorists, 99% of the terrorists are muslims.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  8. simon says

    People need to realise there is no "we" or "them".

    People are seen as groups to quickly. The basis of every person is that he/she wants to forfill the basic needs and become happy. People will act and threat other people in the way they a raised. We should all stop this religion/culture wars and conflicts, stop thinking in boxes. Join hands and make the world better, no matter where you are from, your religion or culturral background.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  9. ridiculous

    "The 9/11 attacks were a terrible tragedy ..."

    No. A tragedy is a terrible accident. That was a deliberate act of war.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • dudeman


      September 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Chad

      No, 9/11 was a terrible tragedy and an act of war. An event can be more than one thing. The act itself was an act of war. The results of the act were a tragedy. Don't try to correct someone's use of words when you obviously don't know what words mean.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  10. ridiculous

    "I’m not trying to be insensitive about 9/11." – Aman

    Why not? You are doing it so well.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  11. bottomline007

    Why most of the religious terrorists are muslims? Is it not mis interpretation of quoran from your own imams and community that gives rise to islamic terrorism? As a good muslim you do not have to apologise, but it is your responsibility to contain and condemn religious terrorism? How determined and successfull are you in this effort?

    September 16, 2011 at 5:08 am |
  12. thatsdumb

    thats funny, ive never heard or met ONE single muslim, that apologized for 9/11, not sure what the author is talking about. More "muslims are the victims" BS that i see all the time on CNN.com. Bottom line, you should feel guilt, the religion you follow advocates murder of all kufar (non-believers), and your prophet was a mass murdering pedophile.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • ridiculous

      Not only have I never heard any Muslim apologize, the Muslim leaders rarely express any outrage over the countless atrocities committed in the name of Allah.

      Aman ... frankly, you and your guilty conscience can GFY twice.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • dudeman

      Agreed 100%.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Chad

      @ thatsdumb, ridiculous, and dudeman

      Maybe if you guys quit going only to your klan meetings you would have heard some of those apologies. Just because they haven't come up to you and said sorry face to face doesn't mean they didn't say it. Why do I even bother. People like you don't want to hear common sense as it gets in the way of your stupidity.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  13. Samb499

    Tiny Minority? there appear to be more muslim extremists, part of this Tiny Minority than the Tiny Minority of mainstream Muslims who were and still are willing to come out in vocal opposition to the other "Tiny Minority"
    Sorry..."you can't hold your water with that story"

    September 16, 2011 at 3:18 am |
    • thatsdumb

      thats funny, ive never heard ONE, single muslim apologize for 9/11. Not sure what you're talking about

      September 16, 2011 at 4:30 am |
  14. Tom Wittmann

    You say that Muslims are not responsible for te deeds that their religion brother execute in the name of the religion??

    I will believe you if the Muslim communities denounce to the Police the known terrorist living between them and kick out the terrorist preachers so frequent in their mosques!! As long this does not happen, the Muslim communities are complices.

    That Christians and Jews also commit crimes?? Of course, but are ostracized and punished by their communities!!
    And, as you mention the Koran, tell us were terror in name IN NAME OF RELIGION is condemned!!

    September 16, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  15. nassor

    We have MAFIA group selling drugs to kids, most of them are catholics, we have childrens molested in churches,,,, isnt this serious crimes? Why dont we see Italians or christians apologizing for thess crimes, terrorist act once in a while but the catholicts(mafia) sells drugs and molest children everyday, why no UN resolution is passed? Come on stop being dumb, and try to understand what is islam by reading correct books not blogs and stupid papers. America has killed many innocent Iraqis than Saddam, should they go and apologize? wake up guys......

    September 16, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • bottomline007

      Drug gangs do not have religion nassor, they have only motives. If you want to compare religious terrorist acts with the effort to give freedom to the people in Iraq form a Tyrant, god help you. America would have out of Iraq long back if your fellow muslim countries like iran and syria stopped fingering in Iraq's affairs. It is them ie your fellow muslim countrys you have to blame for the death toll, not America.

      September 16, 2011 at 5:23 am |
    • ridiculous

      Nice straw man attempt.

      These thugs do not tout religion in their escapades. Wow – epic fail of a post.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • ridiculous

      "innocent Iraqis" die because guilty Iraqis hide among them.

      YOUR alarm clock is going off pal – answer it.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Oi

      As horrible and reprehensible as those acts are, are you really trying to compare selling drugs to kids or priests molesting children to the act of blowing people to smithereens??? Please spare me! Your argument is ridiculous. The real issue here is that no matter how many "moderate" Muslims there are, by the simple fact they are amongst us opens every one of us up to being to being victims of the most mindless and heinous acts of violence the world has ever seen on a regular and constant basis, perpetrated by truly sick and twisted minds that hide behind the "moderates" and ambush us in our sleep. Why do we have strict security checks at basically every airport around the entire world? It's certainly not because some priests like to molest little boys or because some Mafia guys want to sell drugs to some teenagers. Let's be real about this.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  16. Lima B

    Un. Fair. Completely.
    I grew up Muslim and I love Nickleback.....

    September 16, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • ridiculous

      Really? They are terrible.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  17. Sangye

    Compassion is what it takes when the Truth is out on who organised the whole 9/11. Open your heat to your brothers and sisters and give compassion generously for their ignorance. Many things are still hidden from us, the Truth will set you free soon.

    September 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  18. Jagermeister

    Maybe we should have all the Catholics apologize for their priests that have been molesting kids?

    September 15, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  19. muslim guy

    i'm really surprised reading all these comments that people have some much hatred for Islam and Muslims... but before making general statements remember that there are a lot of Muslims who are just trying to live an ordinary life... who may be your neighbor, co-worker, doctor or any other HUMAN BEING.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Chris

      I dare you to unequivocally denounce the massacre of the Banu Qurayza.

      September 15, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  20. 2Bob

    Obviously Muslims don't need to apologise for 9/11, but the vast majority should apologise for the fact that they celebrated when it happened.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Yawar

      The vast majority of muslims did not celebrate. None of the muslims I know celebrated, and I know hundreds. Please do not make inciteful comments based on assumption.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Jagermeister

      the ones that celebrated were out in Palestine who have been living under Israeli oppression for generations. Palestinians are a fraction of the muslim world. The perception that majority of Muslims danced over 9/11 is incorrect, false and ignorant.

      September 15, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Chris

      Bin Ladin did at times enjoy approval ratings north of 50% in places such as KSA and Pakistan.

      Over 80% of present-day Egyptians support the stoning of adulterers.

      Don't swallow the "tiny minority of extremists" bs.

      September 15, 2011 at 11:49 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.