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. Martin

    Sorry your little brother is dumb (but I'm not apologizing).

    September 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  2. everyone

    Bottom line. If people think muslims need to apologize than white people have to still be apologizing for the kkk, people need to not force people to apologize for something they did not do. otherwise I could take credit for winning an oscar cuz Im a girl just like sandra bullock. the logic is wrong.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • William Demuth

      your dumb and clearly are in middle school.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Bill


      September 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Uneducated Cruise Lines

      @ William

      Welcome aboard!

      September 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Bill

      welcome aboard what? the hate train?

      September 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  3. Answer


    My apologies on the wrong name reference. No on the other, for it is your beef. I would ask all Americans to apologize for unleashing onto the world "George Bush"

    Won't get anywhere will we?

    September 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Answer


      It's too long to scroll.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Laughing

      Actually Answer, I am incredibly sorry about George Bush, all I can say is that I wasn't old enough to vote for either of his elections so I couldn't do anything in my power to stop him. However, that isn't an excuse, I am VERY sorry Answer, VERY VERY sorry that someone with the mind the size of a peanut somehow got the most powerful station in America.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Laughing

      As an adendum:

      Give me my apology! It's a miracle we even let your stupid country stick around, maybe because it's too cold, maybe because the majority of the US can't fathom absorbing an entire country of midwesterners. In anycase, Canada owes America an apology right now and since you are Canadian, I think it's high time you say all your mea culpes before everyone here.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Fear the Looming Canadian Menace!

      @Laughing Indeed!

      September 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  4. GuestColin

    This entire column was worth it just for the Nickelback slam. Ha. That was bloody fantastic. +1

    September 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  5. thertruth

    muslims are just violent. They can't even stop killing each other. They have some need to be killing one group or another. It's been that way for thousands of years and will probably go on for another thousand.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • a

      Extremists are the ones who tend to be violent regardless of their religion. The violent extremists may also be agnostic or Atheist. A few extremist so-called Christians bomb abortion clinics–they are domestic terrorists (allegedly).

      September 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • And...

      The man who killed 92 people in Norway last month was Christian. The Crusades...The execution of Pagans who refused to convert ..the burning of "witches".... study history ever? Christians are just as violent. Any people who allow themselves to become brainwashed by "religion" are dangerous.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • twiddly

      hmmm... please point out any violent atheists in recent times. Seems to me they're mostly muslim and christian.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      @and – Actually he wasn't Christian. Even the Bible says many will claim to be something they are not.

      @twiddly – ummmmm.....Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jong IL, Stalingrad, the list goes on.....(and no Hitler was not Catholic, he openly despised Christians).

      September 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  6. kayjulia

    I didn't hear any apologies after 9/11. I did see clips from an Arabic network where muslims were rejoicing in the streets and I did see where muslims deny that muslims committed the crime, that it was all made up by the Jews. I did see where muslims bombed christian churches with people in them and thousands of other atrocities across the globe in the name of allah. I have read where women are abused physically and mentally and denied basic human rights by their muslim males. Go tell someone else how great your religion is but hope they can't read or reason because if they do they might just tell you off!!!

    I don't believe in any religion because they are all made up by men for men and all the holy books are fiction. I think religion should be regulated to a business and pay taxes for their "alleged services" like any other business. Religion = Crime against humanity! JMHOP 🙂

    September 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • twiddly

      That echoes my sentiments pretty well.
      While I'm no fan of any religion, and all religions have some pretty horrific abuses in their past, it is islam that today keeps millions in the dark ages, which its barbaric misogyny and other outdated practices.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  7. Me

    Many comments on this article make me embarrassed to be a member of the human species. I live in New York and have many friends and family who were irrevocably effected by 9/11. It was a tragedy and was devastating beyond words. That being said, I have many Muslim friends that I know to be amazing people – just as I have Jewish, Christian and Pagan friends. There are Muslim people who are good and Muslim people who are bad, just as there are Christian people who are good and Christian people who are bad. The ignorance of close minded, media influenced individuals only functions to spread more hate, intolerance, anxiety and negativity. Extremists of ANY KIND are dangerous (be it in regard to religion, politics or anything). I've studied many types of religions, and it is absurd for anyone to say that all Christians or all Muslims are bad – and if people truley took the time to study and to learn first hand by interacting with individuals of different faiths, rather than being controlled by fear, this is something that they would understand. People need to get over themselves and stop thinking that their way is the only way or the right way. There are 22 "major" religions practiced in this planet. Embrace it, deal with it and stop breeding so much hate. You are toxic and your intolerance does nothing to improve the world, and in fact, it is pathetic.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Smiles

      Beautifully stated.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  8. JLP

    The author stated that many Muslim groups around the world condemned the 9/11 attacks.I don`t recall that outcry by Muslims.What I do remember,is dancing in the streets of a number of Muslim countries. In fairness,some people in the US celebrated when OBL was killed in Pakistan,but not to the extent that Muslims celebrated 9/11.I have never heard a Muslim condemn any terrorist by name,never.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  9. Tracy L.

    “That's not entirely true. Although I'm an atheist, I have a copy of the Koran at home (as well as two copies–NIV and KJV–of the Bible and the Book of Mormon as well). The Koran I have was published in English by a Muslim scholar.
    It is true that there is always something lost in translation, but here's a newsflash for people. The bible wasn't written in English.”

    Oh Jonathon, Jonathon, Jonathon…………. This says soooooooooooooo much about you. You are one of those people who will argue and argue no matter how wrong you are. It’s your nature. You think you are intellectually higher then the average person but reality is you are as stupid as stupid can get. Your life is more than likely led by narcissistic tendencies. And you probably lose your temper a lot and cannot hold down a job. People are probably afraid of you and call you crazy all the time. The only place you feel secure is on the internet, hiding behind a keyboard. It’s the only place you can feel superior which is a need of yours. And your reality is probably very lonely and very bleak.

    Perhaps you should pick one of your religious books – pick one of the Gods – and pray?

    And hears a news flash for you………. A lot of people are aware the Bible wasn’t written in English. Surely you can give better trivia then that?

    September 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • kayjulia

      I'll bet there are tens of thousands of christians who wouldn't believe that the bible wasn't first written in English ! I have met a few of them it is a mind blowing experience. All that stuff is made up out of thin air! One cannot discount the amount of ignorance there is in the human population if you do you will be in peril !


      September 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Are you in middle school yet? Is this what you do in the comment section, throw "stupid" and "the blacks" around? Or is that what you do in your double-wide trailer? And, by the way, there has been a lot of pain and death in the name of Christianity as well. Should you be apologizing?

      September 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • i wonder


      Yes, I have talked to Christians who think that "The Last Supper" was painted on-site at the event.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  10. 4 the Good

    September 11, 2001 was ten years ago, and Americans have not forgotten. Islam is a foul language upon this land, and all who have lost loved ones harbor a certain resentment for a culture that breeds hate, and keeps people in their religion using fear. When I see articles about how Muslims can reach the heart and minds of Americans, all I can think is....give up your hatefilled religion created by a pedophile prophet!

    September 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Seth

      Islam isn't a language, moron.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Sereena

      Got problems with Muslims? go tell the government to not allow muslims to live here
      oh and for your records Islam wasn't even created by prophet Mohammad he was the LAST prophet.. you can call him anything you want.. because Islam started with Adam & Eve .. We believe in ALL the prophets.. how many christians respect our last prophet? we believe in Jesus Christ.. Moses..Jacob.. Mohmmmad.. where are we wrong.. Islam itself comes from the world

      SALAM which means Peace... a religion which means peace can NEVER be hateful.. dont believe me?
      Go pick up a Quran from a Mosque your questions will be answered

      September 12, 2011 at 4:13 am |
  11. Jon

    I'm not sure on where in the Quran this is at but on one page it says if you harm one human, you harm all humans. Then later on the same page it says you are to kill all the infidels. The problem with Islam is that it is in a contradiction with itself.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Cody

      The Quran is contradictory– have you read the Bible? The Bible says to kill infidels, too. For example, Luke 19:27.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Johnny

      I agree with you, but so does the Bible. Both religious texts have tons of figurative speach and one can start cherry picking. i've been raised Christian my entire life and i've seen language that also talks about violence. Heck, there's even a part where Jesus talks about creating divisions, but I am aware that it was figurative speaking. So, I wouldn't point to the Quran and says its violent, I think its figurative.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • JF

      If you want the Jesus version of killing the infidels then just turn to Deuteronomy chapter 13.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  12. 4 the Good

    My last take on this article, "Muslim's should stop apologizing for 9/11" First off, never hear one apology for 9/11. Mostly we see CAIR or the Islamic Relations attack dogs attack anyone who is upset or frusterated in opinion columns. Muslims just hide out, and cry like whining babies if somebody writes graffiti on their stores or businesses. Most of it is guilt driven-fear complaints. Not actual ones.
    These people don't even realize how heinious it would be if they were in an Islamic country and they were being persecuted.
    Stop whining. If you don't like it here, move back to the Middle East.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • chia

      Yeah, you're right on- since when have Muslims EVER apologized for 9/11? All I've ever seen or heard is them saying 'oh, that's just the extremists' or 'oh, we're all actually peaceful people.'

      On that note, it's NOT just the extremists. It says in their holy scriptures that they should kill infidels and will be rewarded for doing so.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bill

      it was hard to miss the apologies.. if you spent less time at your Tea Party rallies you would have heard them.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  13. DSloppyOne

    Could this article be a form of Taqiyya?

    September 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  14. thertruth

    Here's the tolerance Nick,
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Three Christian churches were attacked with firebombs Friday as tensions rose in a dispute over whether Christians could use the word “Allah” in this largely Muslim nation
    Catholic Church has also been attacked and the father of a postulant killed by Muslim

    Want to see tolerance. Just Google "catholic churches attacked by Muslims" its insane how many articles you will see in just the last couple weeks?

    September 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • kya

      Imagine being a Christian living in the Middle East... I feel sorry for my family who can't get out of that region. I don't understand why America continues to let Muslims to this country, but not the Christians who are afraid to step out of their homes. Go figure.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Sereena

      while you google that.. maybe you should google Hatred against muslims.. just saying things go both ways.. don't just quote one thing to show one side of the story..

      September 12, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  15. 4 the Good

    Sure 99.9% of Muslims just sat and watched the terrorist do all these things in the name of Islam and didn't raise a finger or say a word to stop them. 9 of the 11 hijackers were housed and kept in the USA by sponcer homes. I think everyone of these people should be in jail for aiding and abetting them. I think the college's that accepted them should be investigated, and all their families should never get access to the USA. Islam is a forced on religion. Those who are, are told that they will be killed if they convert. This person who wrote this article–same thing. Coward.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • The Architect

      Christianity is a forced on religion too

      September 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Brian D

      9 of the 11 hijackers???? You were probably one of the 55% of Americans who thought the hijackers were Iraqi, right?

      September 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • frasier6670

      How is Christianity forced on you?

      September 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth


      How is it forced?

      I assume the Altar boys are bent over on the altar before being given the body of Christ.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Robert

      @frasier6670. Ever had a run in with evangelical baptist? Try and say that isn't forced on you. Or all the people on evangelical missions in Africa and South America? The goal of any religion is to spread the wold over and convert all people to it. This comes from the fact that those who are religious are under the impression that they are the only ones who are right. Therefore it is in the nature of religion in general to be spread. Its not just Muslims. It is everyone with any kind of mainstream religious belief.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Sereena

      Why do people not even think that Muslims weren't killed on this tragic event? really? is that how close minded people can get? Islam itself says not to force people for anything.. I am a Muslim and just to aware you of something.. almost every month a christian knocks on my door and hands me the bible.. do i mind that? no..

      September 12, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  16. MikeC

    there is no litmus test. Your muslim and I know for a fact that islam is first country is second. So if say a american president was to create a holiday that made fun of mohammad what would happen. Even though that wouldnt happen if it did. Being catholic people make fun of the pope all the time but i don t call for a jhad to kill the infidels. I'm guessing your patriotism goes into the garbage can !

    September 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  17. Tracy L.

    Jonathon – yes, it does appear that to some the truth is considered ‘racists bigotry’. You call it what you want. I call it the truth and you don’t have to like it. Should I apologize?

    J.W. – I never said the Muslims needed to apologize to me, or anyone else for that matter. The author of the article said he was sick of always having to apologize and I’m just pointing out – exactly who are the Muslims apologizing too? I’m not seeing apologies – are you?

    The blacks haven’t asked the whites to apologize? What about the legal drama of ‘Reparations for Slavery’, or having Congress apologize for slavery in the year 2008?

    Yes – the white man is still apologizing for slavery.

    To Marc – if my post set the entire white race back 100 years because of its “racist undertone” – then we haven’t really made that much progress, now have we? But of course anytime someone tries to tell the truth – the easiest thing for simple minds such as yourself to yell and scream is, ‘racists’!

    To I. Dislike Racists – let me put it in simpler terms that maybe you can understand….If I come across anyone that has lost someone to murder – whatever – I am going to be inclined to apologize simply because I know they are feeling pain. It doesn’t have to be my child. I was using that as an example that just went right over your head.

    And who said I was Christian? Hmmmm….. seems to me you might be stereotyping. I never made mention of what religion I am. I will tell you this – if I was part of a religion that caused so much pain and spread so much hatred – I would not be a part of that religion anymore. I wouldn’t sit there and make excuses as to why I ‘am not to blame, or why I shouldn’t have to apologize’.

    They fact of the matter is the world would be a much better place if more people would apologize and take a stand against things that are wrong. If people accepted responsibility for their actions. If we could tell the truth without fear of someone calling us a ‘racists bigot’. If people could hear the truth and try to do better.

    If more people had courage instead of hiding behind a keyboard typing useless words – the world would be a much better place.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • 4 the Good

      Reparations? What are you trying to prove? Take a sedative, see your shrink, and go to bed. Way past your bedtime.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Alfonzo Muchanzo

      Well said Tracy! Couldn't have said it better myself. Now watch all the atheists come on here and call you crazy, bc that's what they do to anybody whom doesn't agree with them.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  18. Paul

    Stop apologizing?....I have been waiting to hear an apology for 10 years.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Al

      How long did it take for the Pope to apologize for fondling little boys?

      September 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Bill

      Its hard to hear something you're not listening to.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  19. D. Quaid

    "Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that?"

    Well said 🙂

    September 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • jbob

      on behalf of white people i apologise for nickleback. they are just horrible, awful musical and lyrical vomit and i apologise. now, man up black people and apologise for missy elliot

      September 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • BG

      Most of the mainstream American music pushed out over the past 15 years is a waste of time.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  20. WIlliam Demuth

    Funny thing is I suspect the Author is Gay.

    (something about the girlie beard)

    If he went back to the old country like that, they would beat him to death in the airport!

    September 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Uneducated

      Welcome to the team.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Team Losers

      @ William – so nice of you to join us.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • jmk3482

      I'm sorry, "girlie beard?"

      Girls don't typically have beards.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Tweety

      Quick, sign him up for "Dancing with the Stars."

      September 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth


      Girls don't have beards?

      Then why the Burka?

      September 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Disgusted by Racism

      ^That is easily the stupidest thing I've ever seen.

      September 9, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Sereena

      William demuth

      Funny you mention the Burka
      Burka doesn't even HIDE the face
      shows how much you know about Islam!

      September 12, 2011 at 4:22 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.