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. Kenneth

    Can we stop apologizing for slavery and G.W. Bush while we're at it?

    September 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  2. Mr. Zippy

    I've never heard any Muslim accept the blame for 9/11 except for the actual perps. However, the remarks that Muslims I know were always backhanded condolences that would start out, "Yes, it's a tragedy, but..." And then finish the sentence with "you know, the US has to has some of the blame" or "this is the result of generations of frustration" or some other asinine remark. And the author asserts "That’s why hundreds of Islamic organizations around the globe condemned the attacks..." Oh yeah, and what organizations would these be,

    September 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  3. jbrl

    "Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware"

    As an agnostic, I do wonder if Allah is aware of all the children of Sudan who are experiencing famine ?

    If He/She is aware, what is He/She doing about it? or perhaps He is not doing anything because He is not aware – which then requires us to revaluate the attributes commonly ascribed to a Supreme Deity.


    September 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • jas

      first of all a supreme being in its essence is neither a he or she. Secondly Allah is also aware of hundreds of thousands of Americans being starved because of unjust economy set by a bunch of capitalists. Allah is also aware of other downtrodden and poor people around the globe that YOU are not aware of. So what does he do about them? They are closest to the their creator in ways you may not understand; and as for those unjust elitists, well their judgment starts the moment they enter their grave.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  4. Muneef

    O mankind! Lo! We have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware. (13)
    O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are), not let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil-doers. (11) 

    September 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • jas

      how about step into a modern world and use a translation that everyone understands. This ain't 13th century Europe

      September 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Muneef


      OK, although all in English but hope this one will be easier to comprehend ;

      Quran Sura 49;

      The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.(10)

      O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.(11)

      O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.(12)

      O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.(13)

      September 19, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  5. jorge washinsen

    Where the hell was the writer when the planes flew into the buildings on 9-11?

    September 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Jen

      playing tetris, on his calculator, in a high school math class in Ohio. Cause he's AMERICAN. why does it matter where he was?

      September 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Emily

      Did you read the article at all, he was pretty clear where he was, in class, as a 16 year old AMERICAN kid!! It doesn't matter where he was, he is no less American than I!!

      September 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  6. jorge wahinsen

    Maybe we should pay them reparations if so many feel they got the short end of the deal.At least we might ask forgiveness for being mad when it happened.Maybe we should pray for them.

    September 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  7. Mikej

    Ask Muslim countries, I believe all of them why they discriminate against Christians bombing, hacking to death, given poor jobs, bibles burned etc,etc,etc. Where is the cry from "peace loving" Muslims for this to stop "if you can't do the time don't do the crime" please keep apologizing it might sink in that there is something to apologize for. I was't around during the crusades or inquisition but feel an association to these evil acts. Mohammed was a prophet and one greater than he has come and it is Jesus.

    September 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  8. jbrl

    I agree with the writer.

    BUT, rather than apologizing what should be done is to support the opening of multicultural centers in their home countries
    whether it be Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. so people there can be exposed to other religions, other ways of understanding the world.

    Have you ever considered addressing that Mr. Ali? After all actions speak louder than words.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Jen

      his home country is America. why is it our job to inform the rest of the world to other religions?

      September 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  9. AzizLight

    Really? Like why should Muslims apologize at all? Muslims were not responsible for 9/11. Dark forces were responsible for 9/11 and we know that dark forces don't apologize. I don't believe that the families of the victims are comforted by an apology from Muslims because its not like it was their fault. Really? The people who committed this crime will never confess to it nor will the public get a chance to see their faces so seeking an apology from third parties is ridiculous and without merit. Seek God in all that you do and you will find comfort in that and that only. Evil is a powerful force that resides in many churches, mosques, synagogues, and other places of "worship" so it is foolish and unwise to single out one group. Adolf Hitler was not a Muslim, Jim Jones was not a muslim, Charles Manson was not a Muslim, Jeffrey Dahmer was not a Muslim, Timothy Mcveigh not a Muslim. I can fill this page with people who have committed mass crimes against humanity who were not Muslim. I am not writing to defend those Muslims who have committed crime but to point out that fighting evil is pointless and that the real struggle is finding peace and living in truth. Peace be with all of us!

    September 19, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • sirnny

      You are absolutely right that every religion has had its crazy people who do crazy things in the name of their deity of choice. The problem isn't Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any of the others. The problem is ALL of them. The problem is religion.

      September 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Ben Cooper

      Really? You know who should apologize, Aziz? Mohammed. After all, the Koran PROMOTES TERROR. There are more passages about terrorinzing and killing people in the Koran than in an al Qaeda playbook. Who wrote all these terroristic passages, Aziz? Donald Duck? It was Mohammed. HE is/was the one that wants blood spilled and on a worldwide scale. And Muslims are doing exactly that. Jesus told us to love our neighbor, that no one may take another's life as we are all sinners. But what does Mohammed care about love of neighbor and forgiveness? Not a thing. Mohammed says go out and kill your neighbor! What a beautiful religion. Why anyone would sign on to someone as bloodthirsty as this guy says a lot about Muslim mentality.

      September 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Ron Nader

      @Ben Cooper, Please please please, stop copying some stupidity you saw on some Fox News channel, just stop and pick up the book and read it you dim bagging moron.

      According to BIBLE, GOD wiped the entire humanity from the face of the Earth by Flood, so let me seeee, is that peaceful scripture???? or is that terrorizing humanity according to your dim witted reasoning by a peaceful God in BIBLE???????

      September 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Aziz

      Oh Mr Ben Cooper... You write as if you are a learned man but I can assure that your Islamic education is truly lacking. Muhammad didn't write the Qur'an first off. He wasn't a scribe but an orator according to the Islamic scriptures. There are many assertions that you've made about Islam and Muhammad that are inconsistent with the scriptures of Islam. If you want to learn about Islam and get a greater understanding then I suggest you read it with an open mind and void of anger. Have you ever found yourself searching for something in your home while in an angry state of mind? Usually you don't find it until you have calmed yourself. This is important when learning. You mention Jesus as well. I can tell by your limited knowledge of the Qur'an that your knowledge of Jesus is just as limited. Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. Then Leviticus 19:34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. These were not spoken by Jesus but by God unto Moses according to the Bible. When you speak irresponsibly you fuel the fires of ignorance and anger and do nothing to spread the GOD consciousness. Actually you sound like a journalist reporting for the corporate media. You are either on the side of peace or the enemy of peace. Period. Spewing hate is not of the light but of the evil that plagues us all. When you take the position to speak or you become a shepherd. The Bible speaks pretty harsh words of those who lead the flock astray. Be well Mr. ben Cooper and if I may i suggest you pick up a Qur'an and Bible and actually read them. Peace.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  10. SamT

    Religion does not equal spirituality. Religions have been pitted against each other for milennia...if you want to rile people up, start wars, and kill lots of people, just throw a religious twist into the mix and voila! You have people fighting against each other, while the Elite Grand Chessmasters sit back and laugh, their control on the world gets even tighter.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  11. sirnny

    Religions have generally been good obstacles to peace while proclaiming peace. Go Atheism! No excuses and no apologies.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  12. C.Cantu

    Most Muslim clerics especially in the Middle East are the main instigators of all violence, terrorism, hatred, vengeance and discrimination around the world. Mosques and Islamic schools (maddrassahs) are incubators of terrorists and fanatics. Muslim clerics brainwash people's minds transforming an ordinary person into an irrational beast capable of committing the worst atrocities and without experiencing any remorse. Please keep America free of this evil religion.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Ron Nader

      So we should keep Christianity out of America too no? After all, Christians mascaraed millions of Indians, brought millions of slaves to Americas, hung thousands of blacks from trees, bombed and burned black churches, colonized country after country and used up their resources by force and killing... what do you say about that????

      September 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  13. Kermit

    Really? The Quran condemns terrorism? What a lie! The Quran 8:60 states "Strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah and your enemies". Don’t take it from me, though. Grab a copy of the Quran from a library and find out for yourself.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Art

      And don't forget....."I have been made victorious through terror." Bukhari 4:52.220

      September 19, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Ron Nader

      Those versus are in Bible too retard, do you bother reading that or just copy cat some cook from Fox News that interpret Qur'an the way they want it??? stop copying someone stupidity... Didn't God in Bible wiped humanity off the face of the Earth by flood? WHAT do you call that MORON??? So according to YOU, the God in Qur'an is mean but the God in Bible who wipes the entire humanity off the face of the earth is Just?

      September 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that? IN ONE SWEEPING STATEMENT HE MAKES THE SAME RACIAL GENERALIZATION HE'S ACCUSING OTHERS OF DOING. You can bet on one thing. If it's anti-White, CNN will make sure it gets press.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Tom

      Wow you completely missed the point!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 19, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Tom


      September 19, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  15. Altee11

    Christian still apologize for the crusades and it's been more than 500 years.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Ron Nader

      Yeh... show me somewhere that it is true... don't just pull things out of your behind to justify stupidity...

      September 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Ted Wilson

      Yeah, and the Crusades only happened after Christians had been attacked by marauding Islamists for over 400 years before that. Christians finally decided to fight back, and then only to reopen access to the holy land, not to take over the world and force it to be Christian. Still it was a mess. But war always is... But don't complain about getting burned when you're the one pouring gas and tossing matches...

      September 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  16. Altee11

    People still apologize for Christian, Jewish and other faith's all the time; why should this guy think Islam is special and better than these other religions.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Ron Nader

      Who is people? where? when? DO YOU apologizes or "some people"? or you just come up with some dumb thing to say to justify stupidity???

      September 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  17. May

    I think we are already in a milestone about the issue of war on terror. America has proven that the crisis can be fought on every level. They have done this by keeping their country safe, as well as others. The assault on Osama bin Laden was just a bonus in that whole affair. Besides, sooner or later America is going to stop mourning the losses of September 11, just like they stopped mourning the loss of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  18. ImomRodriguez

    Yes, I too believe that Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11. They should also fight against radical Islamic views that are preached every week in "Moderate" mosques all around the world and in the US. The only way to stop another 9/11 is to denounce the radical teachings of Muhammad and the Haddiths.

    September 19, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  19. Iqbal Khan

    And check what this have to say....


    September 19, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  20. Iqbal Khan

    And this link.....


    September 19, 2011 at 12:08 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.