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. krehator

    Christians burned people at the stake.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Yipes

      Do they do today?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Dan

      so you are saying they weren't christians? Or that the one version that suits you better is the better version of your religion? Doesn't matter which one you pick, they are both flawed like the rest of your religion, and every other one for that matter.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Sam

      so you are saying they weren't christians? Or that the one version that suits you better is the better version of your religion? Doesn't really matter which one you pick, they are both flawed like the rest of your religion, and every other one for that matter.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  2. SpiderCNN

    911 was not committed by the so called "terrorist" armed with box cutters. It was done by a sophisticated organization that had access to the buildings. WTC buildings were demolished by thermo nuclear process, Pentagon was hit by a missile and who knows what happened to flight 93. As such we have alot of homework to do before blaming the Muslims to begin with.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  3. Hello

    It's like a black guy wanting white people to apologize for slavery. A black guy might not like me because im white. But none of my ancestors where here when slavery even happened. Anyway I have never seen a muslim apologize for 9/11

    September 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • marc

      Nor have you seen a white guy apologize for slavery.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  4. Ian

    I disagree with this article completely. The foundation is offensive to the point of being ridiculous... White people absolutely should apologize for Nickleback!! I am white and I profusely apologize. I hope this helps ease the pain that has been caused by this horrible plague that has hit our nation (and Canada of course) since approximately 1996. Let us all hope that our children can grow up in a world where they don't have to shudder when turning their radio dial to their local rock station.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • marc

      What is wrong with Nickelback, why do you guys keep posting that?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  5. spm

    Im not a muslim, nor am i religious. But honestly

    September 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  6. Know What

    I don't want or need an apology from peaceful Muslims. I just want the terrorism to stop. If they are not able to somehow control or influence their hate-filled brethren, then they need to fully cooperate with forces which *are* able to do so. Perhaps they are already doing this, I don't know for sure... maybe it all has to be kept hush-hush for their protection.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  7. Mike

    I am a white male. I am not going to apologize for being a white male. My ancestors owned slaves, I wasnt there and while it was wrong Im not going to apologize for it. It was before my time. I am a Catholic, I abhor those priests who touched children, but being Catholic doesnt mean I have to apologize for it. So, why should every Muslim have to apologize for 9/11. It is about time that people started growing a new set of balls and get over it! Not all Catholics priests are pedophiles,not all Muslims are terrorists, and a white person and black person should not have to apologize or ask for an apology for what happened years ago. EVERYONE!! Listen, stop apologizing and drudging up the past and move on with you life!!

    September 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Context


      September 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Yipes

      Hi! Buddy....Your white ancestors did not justify slavery by quoting the bible or Christian preaching. The pedophile priests did not justify their acts by quoting the bible or Christian preaching. Unfortunately, these terrorists find justification in the Quran for their acts. Either they are wrong or the moderate muslims are wrong. But it looks like the extremists are winning.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  8. Nate

    This... doesn't make a whit of sense.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  9. gregory

    yes sir you come off as arrogant as do almost all muslims. I have not heard muslims denounce terrorism and jihad enough. I only ever hear them complaining. as you are.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • alkh3myst

      The reason you haven't heard Muslims denouncing terrorism, is because you haven't been listening. Don't you only pay attention to Muslims when Fox News tells you to? If this is so, you only see stories that conform to your biases. The truth is, every major (and most of the minor, for all I know) Islamic organization in the US and the world has issued formal denunciations of terrorism. Try changing the channel, or actually reading some news.


      September 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  10. Jez

    Apologies? I haven't heard any apologies! Just more jihad threats.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Shahid

      You and all those saying they haven't heard apologies are either ignorant, living under a rock or lying. If you would just listen and look, and talk to Muslims, and hear all the organizations and leaders who denounce the acts and terrorism, you might have reconsider. But all I see from types like you is the fanning of the flames of hatred and deceit.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  11. Kevin D.

    When was anyone asking for an apology? Even in the opening of this blog – he mentions that people asked him about 9/11 – maybe people were curious to get HIS perspective (I've been asked about 9/11 too) or even a Muslim's perspective. Mr. Ali has a lot to learn about logic. It's also clear that he loves playing the victim. Finally, when did Muslims ever apologize for 9/11 in the first place? So why "should they stop"? Ridiculous faux-victim blog. Disregard.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Marc

      I'm from Texas, and have been apologizing for Bush ever since.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Serge

      Marc, there are not enough apologies in the world, in the universe, to make up for inflicting that pus-pocket on us.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Fred

      Mr Ali should read the early history [in fact all the history] of Islam. In the early AD's the Islam army left the middle east and raided across Northern Africa- not looting by killing everyone who would not convert. Can not believe the Koran anymore than the bible or other reglious preachings.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  12. Donnie

    Mr. Ali, If you felt it's unfair that other Muslims are still apologizing (frankly I haven't heard anyone doing that), it's up to you, but it's quite unnecessary to write an opinion piece saying so, because it serves no one.

    The apologizing (if it's still happenning and sincere) will just make the victims of 9/11 feel better. Don't you think they deserve to hear it from well meaning Muslims? If I were Muslim, I don't mind apologizing everytime I meet a person who had lost a loved one in that incidence. If my crazy brother kills a man, I should apologize for him everytime I see the man's son, unless he tells me to stop. It's the least I can do.

    If you feel like writing an article, write something that serves a purpose, not a vent of your frustration like this one.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • The

      Donnie its called belief blog for a reason. Every article here is different people expressing their personal opinion on certain matters, its not supposed to serve anyone, rather its supposed to let the reader see something in a different light. Which you apparently missed.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Kevin D.

      He's obviously frustrated – and that's too bad – but his blog is completely illogical. He also incorrectly makes this a racial issue (Nickelback / white people). For the sake of his career, I hope he is funnier than that.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Gordon L

      You can bet his career is not all that great from the way he writes.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Fred

      Islam should be very happy. We celebrate their victory over us every year.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • T Hoss

      Donnie, that is absolute BS.

      The same logic should apply to you. You should be apologizing to Norwegians, if you are a Christian, for the actions of Brevlilk.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  13. Jason

    You go BOy!!! Really muslims shouldnt apologize for it or any other race should apologize for the crimes their race does. If a white man does a crime not all whites should apologize for it, if a black man does a crime not all black people should apologize for it , if a asian or hispanic actually no race of religion should be judged for what crimes people in their race or religion did, just as christians shouldnt apologize to the world for what the priest do to little boys, Jews shouldnt apologize for what Israel does to the Palestinians, Germans shouldnt apologize for what Hitler did to the Jews

    September 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Alfonzo Muchanzo

      Don't need to apolgize but you do need to condemn it, which is exactly what they don't do.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • T Hoss

      Errrr.... no. You are wrong. Actually, Aman is technically wrong – those organizations do not apologize, they condemn. If you are too lazy to find out for yourself, it's not our problem.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  14. JFC

    See, my issue all along has been that Muslims have not been apologetic enough. Seriously, whenever the topic of 9/11 comes up the typical Muslim response seems to be exactly what the writer above expressed – "It wasn't me, I didn't kill those people" or "The other 1.5 billion Muslims didn't do it either and they are really good people." etcetera. Never once have I heard Muslims unequivocally (that is the key here) denounce what happened here on 9/11. If a denouncement is expressed it is always, ALWAYS, qualified. Please, someone tell me what Muslim leader has publicly condemned the events of 9/11 or expressed unqualified, official outrage. Maybe I am not as aware of these facts but I haven't seen it.
    Oh, one last observation: did you notice that the writer did not apologize for 9/11? He also did not offer any somber, repentent-toned acknowledgement that an extremst faction of his beloved faith killed 3,000 innocent, supposedly fellow countrymen in cold blood. Instead, he offered up smart-aleck, sarcastic excuses for why he should not have to feel sorry anymore. I'm sorry but I completely disagree with the premise of the article.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • IHeartBigots

      Please unequivocally apologize this minute for slaughtering the native americans. Don't give me any b.s. about "I didn't do it". I want an apology. NOW! Get on your knees and GROVEL!

      September 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Jason

      Ive seen people in NY atleast the muslim Imaams there apologize for sept 11, i dunno about anywhere else in the country though

      September 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Brittany

      Why should they have to denounce it?? They didn't do anything? I'm white, should I frequently and publicly denounce the KKK? I don't agree with the KKK on any level and I think they do horrible things, but it's not my problem if someone takes offense to me not denouncing them enough.

      I thought the article was well-written. And funny =]

      September 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Shahid

      Are you serious?! How many times do Imams and Sheikhs and Muslim organizations have to publicly denounce the act? How many papers must we sign and how many times must we apologize before it is heard?


      September 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  15. Mohammed

    I h@te America.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Jason

      Just because you call yourself Mohammed doesnt mean you're a muslim, more like a wanna bee

      September 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Mohammed

      @mohammed. You can try imitating me lol. I know your trying to pass yourself off as me, its flattering really. But since I live here, and actually do like living here, have been here since i was a little kid, I would never say I hate America. Nice try though

      September 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Ben

      I hate Mohammed

      September 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Alfonzo Muchanzo

      @Jason – Wanna bee? Lol maybe if you learn how to spell then you'll garner just a shred of legitimacy

      September 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mohammed

      @Mohammed – What, two people can't have the same name? Wow, you really are dumb.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • soupie

      then why are you reading AMERICAN news

      September 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  16. jerz

    not all muslims are the same...all i get now is jokes cracked on me about terrorists..i dont even take it personally..i never apologized for 9/11...ya im an American,yet im Afghan as well...u know the country America is at war with? and from what ive seen being in both countries..both sides have faults..ya what the terrorists did on 9/11 was horrible and my respect goes out to their families..but at the same time we as Americans r comfortable at home while muslim countries get bombed like no tomorrow all the time...what do u think goes on in the middle east and Africa? Americans give the co ordinates...get the GO..and press a button...then there goes the neighborhood..this is an act of desperation muslims do...imagine your family gets bombed for no reason ur the only one left ur home is again your money is gone your family is dead and you have nothing...what will u do? u go find the person who did and get your revenge..im very happy America is in Afghanistan because we finally are getting our long overdue peace..somewhat..but itsbetter than nothing and i thank America for it...but at the same time...innocent ppl still die over here...yet America got a little taste of what goes on on this side of the world nd everybody just turns to us and makes us out to be the worst...in my opinion...everyones stupid.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  17. Benjamin

    I'm from Middles East myself, was born there and came here when I was 7 years old. I grew up here, learned everything here, and would do whatever it takes to defend America. Yeah, I wasn't born here, but America opened the doors of life for me and my family. God bless America. Muslims need to learn one thing, is that one dirty apple spoil the bunch. Most of my friends are Muslims, and I hear and learn from them quite bit, Islam believe in en Eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth "REVENGE", and Christians don't. One thing I don't understand is how come you don't just appreciate all that America gave you and settle once in your lives, why do you have to prove a point by killing innocent people to takerevenge b/c American took over your countries?? You don't see me living in a Muslim country, why? b/c I'm a Christian, so why would you want to live in a Christian country??? if you're not happy here, Leave, and stop whining about you have 2 apologize for 9/11, you have to apologize every day for kiliing over 5000 innocent people (not you personally) but those who were responsible, so don't put more gas on fire and stay low, cos AMERICANS don't want to hear it.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Stevie7

      This isn't a Christian country. Just sayin'

      September 7, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • jerz

      correction...in islam it says you are allowed to take revenge..but letting it go will give much more sawab (good deed) than taking revenge...at the end..killing is never justified.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • The

      Really now. You anti semetic too? You missed the complete point of this article, if Muslims dont want to live in America they WONT. Im both muslim and I love America, much more than many Americans themselves. In my high school class, im one of the only ones to stand up and pledge allegiance to the flag of America. I dont see your point, telling me that Muslims should live in Muslim countries and Christians in christian countries? This isnt the dark ages, get a spine and a sense of diversity.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  18. matt

    Mr. Ali ...i seriously doubt very many people at all ask you how you feel about 9/11- infact i doubt any Americans at all ask you anything of the sort – see, even after 9/11 americans trip all over themselves to be polite to muslems. And i think you need to go back and read your holy book again – Sharia law is take directly from the quran. Im sorry but the last thing your religion is is a religion of peace, the 9/11 hijackers were following the rules of Islam to the letter..... Bin Laden WASNT a crackpot ala David Keresh(sp)... he was following exactly what is taught in the quran.

    I have never heard an apology from Islam in any way for 9/11 or the London bombings ect. ..... just reasons why we deserved it.

    Islam is mired firmly in the 11th century...

    – matt

    September 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Shahid

      I'm not going to get into a theological debate with you about that first paragraph, but the second paragraph/sentence is an utter lie, and if you haven't heard any apologies or condemnations then you have been living under a very large rock.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Every religious text promotes violence. It's all interpretation and how you choose to represent your religion. What's sad is no one ever says all Christians should be treated badly because of what one or two of them do. Eventually (I hope) we'll all grow up and get over it. I doubt it will happen, but I wish it would.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Thomas Verheij

      Sahid, you keep saying that people who have not heard an apology are living under a rock.
      Judging by your name and the comments you made, I bet you regulary visit Islamic organisations, right?
      From what you said many Muslims apologise for 9/11, and according to you, that's uneccesary.

      But then don't you think it's kinda weird that only Muslims are aware of other Muslims apologising for 9/11, and not average Western people?
      Just think about it.
      Howcome only the Muslims know of the apologies, and almost 0 Western people havn't?
      If everyone who is not Muslim has been living under a rock, don't you think you guys just didn't get your publicity right?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • matt

      Shahid – im not looking for an apology from an individual as they are as responcible as i am for the attacks - i want a statement coming out of mecca, the clergy of Iran ect...you know the Offical word from mainstream Islam.

      The Catholics made an offical appology for the madness they started with the Crusades. it changes little from a historical standpoint but it lets the muslims know that christianity in general knows what they did was waaay out of line.

      as i said, there are tons of examples of Islam justifying the attacks...... and as i said, i have yet to see These Guys Were Wrong... these guys were the fringe..........instead they are called martyrs.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Thomas Verheij

      Matt, I'm 100% on your side.

      I'm not asking for much.
      I'll never walk up to a muslims and demand an apology.
      What I would love to hear, feel and most importantly KNOW, is that Muslims think that what those terrorists did was wrong, that they reject their ideology and wished that 9/11 never happened.
      But no, instead, we only hear the exact opposite.
      Sorry but you're gonna keep on feeling like you need to apologise untill some high ranking Islamic figure critisises and condemms those attacks.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • T Hoss

      The questions isn't whether Muslims have apologize. It is the fact that they shouldn't need to – much like Germans today shouldn't have to apologize for the Holocaust. If you are apologizing, you are admitting you had some agreement with the original concept. So by telling us to apologize, you are saying that Muslim's should believe in terrorism, which is basically the whole point of the debate.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • matt

      T Hoss – Islam is a belief system, meaning the very lessons that caused 19 young men to throw their lives away in an act of homicidal insanity are STILL being taught and listened to by thousands of young people. An offical Condemnation (not even an appology) by several Islamic leaders would send a message to us (the west) and the followers of Islam that blowing ones self up is not the moslem way. that isnt happening.

      that is what Thomas, myself and most here in the west would like to see. We dont want muslims blowing themselves up...and we sure dont want to get blown up.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Shahid

      Matt- The main reason you havent seen an apology from some great source in Islam is because there isn't one. We don't have a Vatican or a Pope, or such persons in Islam. There is no overall governing body, not in Mecca, not in Iran, not anywhere. If that is what you are waiting for then you won't get it, because it doesn't exist.

      Thomas- I haven't noticed that, and I am sorry if our "publicity" is at fault for it, but there are several people who have come out, and especially shortly after 9/11 took place that denounce this sort of act. I'm not sure why the western media doesn't broadcast it like it did in the days after 9/11, but I know that the Muslims here in the USA and elsewhere do their best to let everyone know who the Real Muslims are, and that we are sorry for this tragedy, but at the same time feel like they should not b connected to this act, because we have as much in common theologically with these so called Muslims, as the Christians do with the KKK.

      September 7, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  19. Just a thought

    Muslims will go down in historic memory just like the Germans. Before 9/11 most people in the world only viewed muslins as “those people fighting with Jews”. The acts of 9/11 brought muslims into the world spotlight – it is what defined them to the rest of the world. To say that 99% don’t believe in the 9/11 actions is reactionary response. The muslims faith teaches to fight back for the faith to all who oppose. One can’t argue with people who extend this fight back to Isaac and Ishmael. Just ask David Letterman.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  20. Cliff Claven

    Please forgive Jihadist Aman Ali, he’s just a bit cranky because uncle Osama is dead & he was so looking forward to his vacation at his compound in Pakistan. Also he finally saw his mom with her burga off & realized she’s a man.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • angus squared



      September 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Gordon L


      September 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • T Hoss

      lollllllll you are soooooooo funnnnnnnyyyyyy how long did it take you to come up with that one bud?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
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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.