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. Dan

    I lived long enough in both countries (Iraq and US) to come to a single conclusion. All this talk about religion and waging all those wars abroad only gets our troops killed in vain and drains our budget (2 trillions $/ year). This is what I think. We should stay unitied, simplify our lives (no greed or vanity), focus on education and critical thinking (i.e. f**ck Jessus and Allah), and all the nation should focus on working towards gaining energey independence. We should think of domestic energy problem as morally equivalent to the war. This means, like Manhattan project, it is not driven by capitalistic economy but by collective national interest. So, first, invest in public transportation instead on SUVs and weapons, and invest in research of other forms of cleaner and more sustainable energies. I know we have the technologies, but they are being resisted by the greed of few some. Therefore, there is no shame if public revolts against injustice to clean the government from corruption and do the right thing for the US and it's future.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  2. Dan

    I want to state just historic facts that lead into simple and obvious conclusions. Any critical thinker will easly see simple logic. IF it was true that Islam is violent as most Republicans and Zionis try to claim, THEN Jews and Christian would have been mass murdered during past 1400 years like it happened in Christian Europe. BUT, Jews and Christians did NOT get mass murdered as they were in Europe. Therefore, Islam is not violent. Just FYI, in mathematical logic this is called reductio ad absurdum. The only explanation to the unfortunate violence that is happenning between the three faiths during past 100 years is due to wave of nationalism, imperialism, and Israeli-Palestinian issue that is inflicted on Middle East by arrogant impereal Eu/US. Christianity got used by people like you as Islam was used by fanatic. BTW, I was in Iraq AND I am Chrisitian, but I got saved by Muslims from the criminals. So, if you are true christians or whatever, then you would be spreading peace than spewing hate.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  3. Doug

    The note I sent to the author – although I think this will get clipped by the sensors so you'll never see it, lol:

    You’re an idiot. But for a comedian, not a very funny one.

    As a Christian, I’m sick of hearing how Muslims feel about 9/11. Every single article about it is literally shrouded in “the Muslim view”, followed almost immediately with a follow up on that same Muslim woman – you know who I’m talking about – the one that lost her husband just before she could see the look on his face when she tells him that she was going to have a boy. Statistics are then trotted out to shore up our knowledge of how many Muslim’s were killed, etc... I’ve yet to see one that shows the number of Christians, or Jews, or even husbands that lost their pregnant wives before (oh, just fill in the blank here). But I’ve seen the same woman several times now with her story – which includes dashed hopes of their children attending an Ivy league college TEN YEARS from now. Note: you might stop getting asked about how you feel when we stop seeing the same one sided coverage year after year.

    And then you chime in saying that Muslims should stop apologizing. Funny – but again, not in a comedic way. The only apology I’ve heard was wrapped in a back-handed critique of how we fail to understand Muslims. Another theme repeated ad nauseam. How we should call a 1-800 number to be more understanding. How we got it all wrong. Did we? Really? Your words about how Islam is about peace are right, yet the hostile acts of hundreds and the condemning and hateful words from your own religious texts are all wrong on that score? Wow.

    You made the leap to an apology by equating it with repeated condemnations no less. The next time someone condemns an act committed by someone else to you, make sure you accept their apology and just see how stupid that makes you look to them…

    But to me, the terrorists tell the truth with their acts. And you, by claiming that terrorism is counter to the teachings of Islam, lie. You lie because Islam teaches them to do it, and our understanding of Muslims had nothing to do with that. To believe you, we must believe that the Quran, the Hadith, the audio messages from countless Islamic clerics, the actions of a good number of Islamic representatives, the actions of Iran, and so much more - are all lies. Because they all contradict you. They say that non-believers are to be put to death, that it is a duty that you MUST carry out AS a Muslim. Just like Iran is doing to the Iranian Christian pastor – condemned to death for not recanting his own religion and converting to Islam. This is not an act from some wayward extremist. It is an Islamic sanctioned act and a prime example of Islam in action. Perhaps you should tell Youcef Nadarkhani just how peaceful Islam is – make sure to put it in the form of a joke while you are at it, use that comedic talent to bring him some peace of mind while on death row for *not* being Islamic.

    So instead of condemning our lack of understanding of you – perhaps you could work on understanding the Islamic beliefs of those terrorist groups, the government of Iran, and the people that teach the Quran, etc… – perhaps then you can get them to see the light and show them “Your” Islamic beliefs – you know, the one where it’s all about peace? Until they change how they see Islam, it won’t matter one lick how much I understand them – since they just don’t seem to understand your “true” vision of peace via Islam. When that happens, their actions will definitely change my understanding… but your words – not so much.

    This argument carries no hateful message, it is simple logic and a perspective of truth based on how cheap words are when compared to actions. The actions of Islamic followers do not attempt to fix what’s wrong with those we call terrorist, because deep down, they don’t see that as the problem. They still see *us* as the problem. Deny it all you want – but that won’t make it any less true. After all, actions speak louder than words.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  4. Giavur

    Yes, they pray to go to haven while they have sent their wives to hell.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  5. Dr.T

    I find it interesting to see such an attack on an individual who writes an article trying to distance himself from the extremists who happen to be the same religion as he is. The just of the article is that just because you're a certain religion doesn't mean you're exactly the same as another individual. Funny, I didn't see this many Christians outraged by the Christian backed proposed law requiring the death penalty for people who were born gay in parts of Africa. Yes, some so called Christians supported this horrifying idiodic law, but does that mean that all of us who are Christian are that evil and stupid? I'd like to think not. The same can be said of any religion. Just because there are evil people who claim religous beliefs doesn't mean all others of the religion are evil by association. Furthermore, we should all do our part by questioning the motives of our own spiritiual leaders whenever we are urged to judge and hate others for any reason. Live life the way you see fit. Your life is between you and your god. Let others do the same.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Doug

      Where did you read him distancing himself from them in any way? I must have skipped that fraction of a sentence in all those paragraphs complaining about how stupid we are for not trying to understand them better.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  6. LV

    Where is the million Muslim march on DC for Islamic moderation and tolerance? Where is the outcry from that community over the systemic application of Islamic law which oppresses about 750MM women worldwide? I never heard any apology from anyone. Instead, we allowed a person with known ties and a clear recorded history to build on the 911 site, knowing full well what is means to Islam to build on conquered land. If we think for one second that Islam and Muslims are on 'our' side we are complete fools.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  7. volsocal

    When did they start?

    September 29, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  8. Doug

    You are seriously devoid of logic in this article, Mr. Ali. You try to link condemning an act with apologizing for it – I'd call that turd polishing at it's best. You repeatedly state how we don't understand you and then imply that this can only be because we are dumb ("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."). But our understanding of YOU bears no weight on how many Muslims fail to understand Islam!

    Either the terrorists are right, and Islam demands they behave the way they do, or it doesn't. Our understanding of Muslims does not affect their behavior with their own faith. You place the blame on us, claiming we need to understand better – and I throw the BS card down on that one. If, as you suggest, Islam is peaceful but has radical elements in it which don't understand THAT, then why are you preaching to US? Why don't you get THEM (the terrorist groups) to understand "your version" of Islam better? The answer as I see it is – because YOU are the liar here, and the terrorists are the only true representatives of YOUR faith. If *my* understanding of the acts of Muslims is wrong – prove it by making Islam a better example of YOUR version of it rather than the terrorists version of it. Demonstrate by example – and perhaps, just perhaps, our understanding will change. But right now, I think that their actions speak much louder than your words.

    Either way, you demonstrate an exceptional lack of understanding of US when you believe that saying things like "terrorism is counter to the teachings of Islam" means anything when stacked up against the evidence to the contrary? Evidence that includes actions by not just terrorists, but entire populations, political organizations, cleric/church sponsored events, written doctrine, reproduced religious works in multiple media formats, and history itself?

    Yet you still seek to make us see YOUR side better – when you clearly have a profound lack in regards to how you see OUR side of the coin.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • mike hunt

      very well said.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • LV

      They talk to the USA, and Israel, for two reasons. First, we might listen. Second, if they start talking to Hamas et al, they're likely to end up dead. It is a cop-out. Good post. Good catch.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Rahul

      I"m not muslim. Its incredibly easy for me to see how cells within a belief system might misinterpret, fabricate, and radicalize tenets within that belief system. I dont blame 9/11 on Islam at all. I blame it on the terrorists that committed those acts. This has been the case with all religions throughout history. Christianity had it in the Dark Ages. Islam has it now. Give anyone that demented and sick any belief system and they'll twist it into something that fits their own perverse view of the world. If you can't understand that, then yes, you are like the 10 year old in his analogy. Just dumb.

      September 30, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  9. Jweitzel3

    As. Iran gets ready to execute a Christian minister, Muslims must never stop apologizing for 911!!!

    September 29, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • LV

      We need to have the courage to stand up and call an enemy an enemy and deal with them accordingly. Our PC/EEO thinking has completely extinguished all common sense. We actually can be blamed for intolerance by the intolerantly crazy and listen to it. That is insane.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  10. Doug

    Stop apologizing? Seriously?

    They've never STARTED. They have always said WE are the ones that need to change. They put billboards up asking us to change OUR views. They do nothing to change the views of the "so called minority" of Muslims who are radical terrorists in the name of Allah. The focus has been and always will be to infiltrate our society with deceit – saying they are peaceful, yet following a doctrine which REQUIRES them to kill all non-believers. Their true purpose is hidden behind this facade of benign acceptance until a critical mass allows them to subvert their sworn enemies (people of *any* other faith) at the point of execution. Iran currently has an article concerning that this very day – a Christian man on death row for not recanting his religion and turning to Islam – his only crime – having a faith that is not Islam in an Islam run country. This is not an isolated act perpetrated by a mislead group of radicals – it is a state sponsored example in keeping with the teachings of ALL Muslims. To be Muslim is to be dedicated to the purpose of eradicating all non-Muslims – whether you deny this or not.

    In that sense, Muslims shouldn't apologize – they should just admit the truth for once instead of lying "like the devil himself". At least the "radical extremists" (terrorists) speak the truth about their religion, something most Muslims don't have the stomach for.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  11. Rick

    The statement that "...Islam unequivocally condemns terrorism..." is false. If that were the case, we would see more tolerance of non-Muslims (to practice thier religion) in the in the Muslim world. The fact is, a small minority encourage it and a large, silent majority allow it.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  12. No GOD

    Stop violence and war around the world. This goes to both Muslims and americans as well. We are just a speck in the universe and life is a miracle that has sprouted on planet earth. Don't end it with politics, ego and grudges.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  13. No GOD

    Stop violence and war around the world. This goes to Muslims and americanstoo. We are just a speck in the universe and life is a miracle that has sprouted on planet earth. Don't end it with politics, ego and grudges.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  14. 1manthousand

    Mr Ali, most Americans may be willingly ignorant to the true mission of Islam which is to make everyone in the world become Muslims by the sword, but some of us know the secret mission Islam. The Prime Minister of Israel know this as well. We will monitor everything you do in this country. Every conversation you have over the phone or through the internet will be scrutinized by the FBI. Undercover agents are everywhere so if you are part of this mission you are in for a big surprise; if not then you may need to find a new religion. I highly recommend Christianity.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Adam

      May God have mercy on your soul.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • LostNomad

      You're an idiot.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  15. Pliny

    Mister Ali,

    Here's a suggestion.

    All 1.3 billion of you muslims could KNOCK IT OFF!!!!

    Seriously...how long do you think the rest of us are gonna put up with your hijinks? Do you really think you can keep this up and somehow avoid being turned into a thin, radioactive, layer-of-dust in the stratosphere.

    So my suggestion to you, and your 1.3 billion friends....stop bowing to Mecca 5 times a day. Instead, bow to the direction of "ground zero" and beg forgivness and mercy.

    Because you need a lot of both!

    September 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Adam

      In a country of neanderthals, you earn the badge of honor, my friend. Do you know anything about Islam? Do you know any Muslims personally? Tell me: did all 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide participate in the tragic events of 9/11? I was in the 4th grade when 9/11 happened, and I remember there being a Muslim boy in my class. So, what role did that 10-year-old kid play in ccordinating the attacks? Do you think he might have been a sleeper cell? I don't think that boy needs to pray for mercy or forgiveness any more than do the countless Muslims whose lives have been shattered as a result of the follow-up to 9/11. A certain man once told us "love thine enemy" and to "turn the other cheek". I suggest you study this man's life and words a bit more closely when you get the chance.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Hamid

      Wow, for a muslim who runs a cub scout out of a Church, take food all the time to my deeply Christian neighbor who is 80, and spends much of the time teaching my kids to love and be tolerant, I must Knock It Off- Truely, my friend, you are an idiot. I am sorry for the fact that a bunch of innocent people lost their lives in 911 but I had nothing to do with it.
      Learn a little about your history and read a couple of books on foreign policy and what was done during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan leading to the nuts we have loose there now and you will be more informed and less hateful.
      It is not religion which is dangerous. It is religion in the hands of ignorant and intolerant people, be it Muslim, Christian, or Jew that is dangerous. What is even more dangerous is power in the hands of an ill informed citizenary. Please read a few books and you be be a little more enlightened about what is going on around the world and the war for resources.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  16. Chuck


    Read this blog, I think you will find it supportive of yours (and my) belief:


    September 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  17. James Kimble

    The loving Muslims are set to execute a Christian Pastor in Iran because he won't "repent" and turn to Islam even though he never embraced Islam at any time in his life. Simple unjustifiable murder.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • AnAgnosticView

      Those are not 'loving' Muslims. Neither are below.

      ~200 years of Christian Crusaders – a series of religiously sanctioned military campaigns called by the Pope.

      Christianity –> Hell is a place where those who are not saved by faith in Christ are burned, tormented, tortured, and harmed by fire for eternity.

      From the Christian Reconciliation Walk: "But when have Christians demonstrated this love to Muslims or Jews? We have gone to them with swords and guns. We have gone to them with racism and hatred. We have gone to them with feelings of cultural superiority and economic domination. We have gone to them with colonialism and exploitation. We have even gone to them with the Gospel cloaked in arguments of superiority...."

      September 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  18. Toby

    As a non-supernaturalist, I have not heard ENOUGH apologies for 9/11. We all know that Islam was THE motivating factor for these homicidal maniacs and religion and Islam are fully and wholly responsible for these events. Not one Muslim is without blood on his/her hands for perpetuating a belief system where these ideas of hatred, misogyny, and contempt for this world are fostered. Even moderate Muslims share a piece of guilt.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Adam

      I really feel sorry for people like you. You're either incredibly feeble-minded, or simply blinded by hatred. I would recommend that you read up on both your own religion (if you practice one), and Islam. It would do a world of good for you, and I think it might help ensure that we humans evolve as a species.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • 1manthousand

      Oh no Adam, he not feeble minded. He is speaking the truth which you and many democrats/ liberals have willingly ignored for decades. This religion of Anti-Christ is coming to get you if you don't know. In fact it is already @ your door. I pray this doesn't happen to you but you and the liberals may not know the truth until its too late. This religion is a wolf in sheep clothing. They say they are peaceful and yet threaten to put a pastor to death for refusing to convert to Islam?(smh)

      September 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  19. Chuck


    I absolutely agree with you on the fact that true Muslims should not apologize for 9/11. I have read the Qur'an both in English and Arabic. I do not go to islamaphobic websites nor "cherry-picked crackpot interpretation of the Muslim holy book". I read these for myself. Muslims living in the land of kuffars must be horrible. What I can't understand is why what I read of these passages that are direct from Allah differ from how you read them. Seems very clear to me.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Toby

      Remember-those 19 hijackers thought they were "true Muslims" too. Where does your definition of "true Muslim" come from? Probably your own mind-which is where these nonsensical beliefs and ideas are actually formed. Your comment is misguided and your logic is in error to conclude that some Muslims are "true" and some are not. They are ALL part of the same ideological belief system that allowed these events (and many other terrible horrors) to transpire.

      September 29, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Chuck


      You are missing the point. There is no such thing as a moderate or extremist in Islam. You are either a true Muslim or not one at all. The Qur'an is the direct word of Allah. The 9/11 hijackers were executing their belief system exactly as required, therefore, no need to apologize.

      September 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Rick

      Chuck, This assertion that the Quran is the "true word of God" is the BS that starts this whole religion mess to begin with. The Torah thinks it is the word of God as does the Bible. Point in fact, they are all written by men (people), period. No divinity needed. Why can't I read the Golden Tablets John Smith found? Oh, yeah, becasue he made up their content, just like the Torah, Bible, and Quran.

      September 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  20. themadjewess

    When have Muslims 'apologized' for 9/11?

    September 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Adam

      Who ever said they had to?

      September 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • mike hunt

      I did.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:12 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.