September 30th, 2011
05:33 PM ET

Worshippers at al-Awlaki's old mosque 'not glad' he's dead, but 'it's helpful'

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Falls Church, Virginia (CNN)– Worshippers hurried by a host of cameras and reporters on their way to Friday prayers at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center. Many of those who stopped to ask about the gaggle of media found out for the first time American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who once stood in their pulpit, had been killed Friday by a CIA drone strike in Yemen.

“I think he should have gotten a proper burial as a Muslim, but as a human being I don’t think he was right for his mentality and his morality,” said Jouwad Syed, who recently started attending the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center.

“In a way, we’re not glad that he’s dead. At the same token, it’s helpful. We’re trying to clear our name. There’s crazy people everywhere you go in different religions. He’s just one of the few and he definitely doesn’t represent what Islam is all about,” Syed said.

Al-Awlaki was the imam at Al-Hijarh from January 2001 until 2002, when he left the United States for London before eventually resettling in Yemen. While he was in the States he preached to and interacted with three of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, according to the 9/11 Commission report, but he publicly condemned the attack afterward.

“While employed at Dar Al-Hijrah, he was known for his interfaith outreach, civic engagement, and tolerance in the Northern Virginia community,” Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the current leader of the mosque said in a written statement. “However, after Mr. Al-Awlaki’s departure in 2002, he was arrested by Yemeni authorities and allegedly tortured. It was then that Al-Awlaki began preaching violence.”

His ability to speak English and communicate the positions of al-Queda drew al-Awlaki the nickname “the bin Laden of the Internet.”

“Al-Awlaki will no longer spread his hate speech over the Internet to Muslim youth provoking them to engage in violence against Americans. We reiterate that as an American faith community we do not accept violence nor extremism and recommit ourselves to our message living our faith in peace, tolerance, and the promotion of the public good,” Abdul-Malik continued.

Read more about al-Awlaki on CNN's Security Clearance blog

“Some one that’s not in line with Islam; you gotta break away from them,” said Monsoor Rashid, who works for the Army National Guard as a civilian contractor and was on his way into the mosque for noonday prayers.

“Actions of some folks who go to this mosque don’t represent what the mosque is all about. I live in the area, born and raised in America. We don’t obviously feel the same way he did or any of the other terrorists,” Rashid said.

While the mosque has condemned the actions and statements of al-Awlaki, who helped recruit a Nigerian man who tried to blow up a plane in Detroit in 2009 using an underwear bomb, they also expressed their displeasure with manner of his killing.

“We must also add that in previous statements we have rejected the use of extrajudicial assassination of any human being and especially an American citizen which includes Al-Awlaki. We reiterate our commitment to 'due process under law' and justice and are concerned that the alleged drone attack sends the wrong message to law abiding people around the world,” Abdul-Malik’s statement read.

“I would have preferred that he had suffered life in prison. If he’s dead, he’s dead. He didn’t really get to suffer,” Syed said.

Arsalan Iftikhar, the managing editor of the Crescent Post and author of Islamic Pacifism said, “There might be people who might not have fully agreed with the methodology used but I think there are very few people in the Muslim community who are going to lose any sleep at all over the death of Anwar al-Awlaki. If anything he was a stain on the community, both here domestically and globally.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Islam

soundoff (610 Responses)
  1. J

    “Some one that’s not in line with Islam; you gotta break away from them,”

    in other words if they aint killin people, get away from em!

    October 1, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  2. mike

    its a nice day today, another sick monster is blown to bits, i praise the president,

    October 1, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  3. Brownstain

    More human misery has been caused by religion than by any other cause.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • Chuck

      Josef Stalin murdered more than 20 million people. Pol Pot racked up a paltry 2 million. That's more than all the deaths motiviated by religion in the history of mankind, and they were both officially atheists. Before you open your mouth, try opening your mind.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • Samsword

      I would say "arrogance" is the main culprit. While religion has had it's share of this, I feel that "politics" is equally if not more guilty than "religion." Both are too abstract of terms though. (Because technically science has caused misery too. Atom Bombs, Biochemical warfare? True these are just tools... but in most cases, religion has also merely been a tool for political gain)

      Religion has also done many great things for mankind too. Arts, music, tradition, culture. Not to mention education and science (yes even these have their roots in religion, like it or not.) Life on earth would be pretty bleak without the heritage left by religion.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      @chuck – While Stalin and Mao were atheists, they did not perpetrate their atrocities because of their atheism. Contrast this with the Inquisition. The atrocities perpetrated were because of a doctrine held by the church, and the thoughts/actions of those deemed to be heretical. Christianity can be blamed in this instance.

      So, while you can have totalitarian regimes and evil people, it is not atheism that is motivating their evil. Atheism is, after all, just evidence-based living. And, anyone who tries to turn atheism into a religion is just poorly informed.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • JohnR

      Absolutists ideologies of all sorts have been the cause of the bulk of the misery humanity has inflicted on itself. Not just religion.

      October 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Samsword

      @JohnR That is EXACTLY what I was trying to say. Thank you!

      October 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  4. Mark Yelka

    Religion and intolerance go together. Think about it.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • Samsword

      Technically so does Atheism... Since the term is defined by what you're in opposition to. I hear just as much hate coming from atheists as I do from the theists.

      (And further, if "tolerance" is your measure of truthfulness... then technically Taoists, Buddhists (and several Hindus) are most "true.") ...Just saying

      October 1, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      @samsword Atheism is not in opposition to anything except for hypotheses that are not backed by evidence. It's as simple as that. Arhism does not consider tolerance a measure of truthfulness. How could it?

      October 1, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • Samsword

      "Hypothesis" such as "There is no God" for example? Is this not an invalidated hypothesis. I have yet to hear a solid proof or evidence to suggest there is no God.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      @samsword – '"Hypothesis" such as "There is no God" for example? Is this not an invalidated hypothesis. I have yet to hear a solid proof or evidence to suggest there is no God.'

      Hypotheses are not about proving the negative. That's just basic logic. Prove to me the Easter Bunny doesn't live on Mars! No, hypotheses are statements regarding things that are claimed to be true, not things that are claimed to be false.

      If you're interested, the Null Hypothesis might be of interest to you. Try http://www.statisticalmisconceptions.com/sample2.html to get started. And, there are many web pages dealing with how to form a cogent hypothesis, what it takes to argue it, and what might disprove it.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Samsword

      And further... if you REALLY want play the logic game. Here's a doozy:

      Is logic a valid method for ascertaining truth. If so why?

      If you answer the affirmative, and then logically seek to prove it. You are assuming that logic is valid in order to prove it. Therefore your logic is circular and invalid.

      If you answer the affirmative, and give no reason. Then you have no reasonable evidence, and therefore your argument is invalid.

      Now, even I realize this is ridiculous nonsense— but that's my point! Human logic isn't an infallible method of ascertaining truth in the real world. We rely on logic AND intuition. When it comes to the existence of God, logic can only bring us to a stand-still. However, my feelings, intuitions, and experiences lead me to believe in Divinity and miracles. You, of course would call such things coincidence. And since there really isn't a way to prove or disprove either, we may simply have to "agree to disagree" and call a truce.

      I see my faith as empowering and enriching to my live, much the way you likely see Atheism as a "liberation" to yours. So naturally we are defensive about what we have come to accept in our lives...

      October 1, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      @samsword – "Is logic a valid method for ascertaining truth. If so why?"

      An excellent question. The answer is that logic is a valid method for determining confidence in hypotheses. I do not believe it is possible for any method (logic, illogic, intuition, statistics, etc.) to know anything for absolute certainty. However, logic has a very high degree of utility. It is extremely useful in giving us confidence in things we question. It helps us to take into account things we might otherwise forget. Intuition is valuable, and from a Darwinian perspective, has successfully enabled our species to survive. In some sense, one might say that intuition is logic that is hardwired in our genes. We don't quite understand it and it is fallible, but it has been good enough to help our species survive.

      Intuition works best when our bodies are behaving normally. When we experience sickness or trauma, our bodies are less likely to give us good information. People who experience near-death commonly report seeing a tunnel of light. Intuition is damaged at this time and the common biological response to blood-pressure loss, etc., leads some people to believe that they've had a supernatural experience. As long as we put intuition in its proper place, it should be used to help us continue to make good choices.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • JohnR

      @samsword Logic is a valid tool for ascertaining truth. But NO ONE thinks it's the only tool. Even logically valid arguments are unsound if their premises are false. Empirical knowledge is gathered by various means. Argumentation has to obey logic, but logic per se can only get you so far.

      October 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Samsword

      @JohnR That is exactly what I was trying to allude to. When it comes to scientific knowledge, objective reasoning is key. But, by its very nature, Religion is an internal subjective experience. And therefore, objective observation cannot do justice to the subjective experience of Religion. (Therefore, I am arguing that religious belief is not antiquated as many Atheists claim.) They are born of different methods and processes.

      Ultimately, to me, belief in a Divinity seems both a logical explanation, AND it speaks to my intuitions and subjective experiences. And since I have found no statements or discoveries that diminish that, I don't believe that Religion has been proven to be an antiquated system. Merely a differing methodology. (And I will be the first to agree that Religion, as with Science, has more evolving to do. I hope that as we humans "globalize" our subjection to differing ideas and experiences will help us develop religious thinking, as technology has advance scientific thinking.) I'm very optimistic about what our future holds, so long as we don't get caught in the mire of our other present-day problems. 🙂

      Thanks again to everyone for a good dialogue. I feel I have come away more edified!

      October 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  5. jorge washinsen

    We will always be at war as long as religion rules minds.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • Samsword

      But what about the Nazi's, Stalin, Chairman Mao, and the Khmer Rouge. All atheistic organizations, and yet as ever barbaric as the "crusades" or "inquisition" As long as people think along the lines you are right now, there will be war.

      Atheists: "Religion is evil. We must stop anyone who thinks differently than us."
      Believers: "Heathens are evil. We must stop anyone who thinks differently than us."

      Sounds eerily familiar eh?

      October 1, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      @samsword In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote neither as an atheist, an agnostic, nor as a believer in a remote, rationalist divinity. Instead he expressed his belief in one providential, active, deity.

      So, your facts are not quite accurate. Also, when an atheist is wrong it is their fault and the blame is on them personally. When a religionist is wrong, it is not their fault as they are merely following their religion, and religions do not own up to being wrong very easily.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • Samsword

      Okay but how about Mao and the Khmer Rouge... openly Atheistic to the point of mass murder. If you want me to dictate sources I can. (This has been the subject of an entire semester's worth of research...)

      Further, you ignored my point. That by openly calling for the abandon of religion, you are stating that your "belief" is superior to any others. Which is by your very words "intolerant."

      October 1, 2011 at 7:00 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      @samsword – "Okay but how about Mao and the Khmer Rouge?" As I mentioned before, the evils done by individuals lay at their feet. Atheism is not a religion, but merely a discipline that states that living must be based on evidence. But, religion is different. Evils done by religionists are on behalf of their religion. There's a very big difference here.

      Also, you said I ignored your point. If your point was: 'Atheists: "Religion is evil. We must stop anyone who thinks differently than us."', then you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is to be an atheist and what "intolerance" means. Atheism is merely about living a life in an evidence-based manner and not accepting hypotheses that are not evidence based. Intolerance is typically about violent reaction and control to be exerted over those who believe differently. Atheism does not put people to death, have them whipped, try to outlaw minorities from having equal protection under the law, etc. It is precisely because Atheism is not a religion that the evils done by evil people can't be laid against it.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • Samsword

      "Atheism does not put people to death, have them whipped, try to outlaw minorities from having equal protection under the law, etc. It is precisely because Atheism is not a religion that the evils done by evil people can't be laid against it."

      Again... Khmer rouge. Maoist supporters. These were done by groups not "individuals" so far, I'm not seeing a difference here. Most fanaticism (religious or political) is started by "individuals," but it takes groups to carry them out.

      You (and others) say Atheism is based on evidence. I refute that. Give me evidence. Give me truly solid evidence that says there is no God. (You may be able to "prove" certain aspects or histories false.... but when it comes to the "big question" you've got nothing.) Ultimately you can't, because science can't reach that far yet. Atheism is a belief like any other.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      @samsword – "Give me truly solid evidence that says there is no God." This is improper logic. It is the responsibility for someone making an hypothesis to provide the evidence. How could it be otherwise? And, when evidence is presented that is communicable (understood by all parties), verifiable (the evidence exists today and can be examined), and reproducible (the same conclusions are reached by multiple testers), the hypothesis has a chance of being validated. Even then, it is a matter of confidence, not absolute certainty. It's rational science with no excuses for being wrong.

      And, again, evil done by Atheists as individuals or as groups is laid on them. Atheism isn't a religion. It only is about evidence-based living. There are no "belief" systems in Atheism. And, it isn't intolerant (repressing or harming others). So, it is vastly different than religion that allows individuals to not be accountable for the evil they do in the name of religion.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Samsword

      "And, again, evil done by Atheists as individuals or as groups is laid on them." I can easily say "evil done by Theists as individuals or groups is laid on them." I'm religious, and I don't commit heinous crimes against mankind. There are millions and millions of religious people who live peaceful productive lives (many of whom could argue that because of religion they live peaceful lives.) I was merely pointing out in my examples that your blanket statement against religion in general was arrogant and hypocritical. It was to illustrate that Atheisic thinking can be distorted and fanaticized as easily as religious thinking.

      As for evidence, we could banter back and forth quite a bit I'm sure. But, I guess ultimately the argument for religion is the question "why?" Science is good at answering "how," but we have nothing on the "why" of the Universe? And further WHY is there Life in the universe? Atheists say its coincidence. But this is as much of a "guess" as the God Theory.
      However— and this is something that I don't expect most Atheists to understand— but ultimately my belief is from intuition. There is some deep part of me that instinctively "knows" some how that there is a God. This same spark that has been seen in the earliest evidences of human kind. A desire to connect to Divinity. Even most Anthropologists and Archeologists can only guess at what caused mankind to evolve with a sense of religiosity. You say coincidence, I say divinity. And since there is no real way to "prove" either. Guess we'll just have to live with each other, and accept each others differing approaches. 😉

      October 1, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      @samsword – "your blanket statement against religion in general was arrogant and hypocritical. It was to illustrate that Atheisic thinking can be distorted and fanaticized as easily as religious thinking."

      Which statement? The only one I feel strongly about is that religion, in general, is not compatible with evidence-based living. I don't this this is arrogant or hypocritical. Most religion requires the suspension of critical thinking in favor of emotion-based persuasion. Most religion is not introspective, challenging its own fundamental principles. But, to the extent that religion can create fellowship and make for a pleasant experience, then it can be good.

      All too frequently, religion tries to push itself into controlling the lives of others. I live in North Carolina where currently there are laws being passed or promoted based on religion and funded by religionists. If your religious practice is truly harmless to others, then that's great and I hope you enjoy your beliefs.

      Thank you for the pleasant dialog.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Samsword

      Mark, likewise! Thank you for an engaging and enriching dialogue. I hope you realize I DON'T hate Atheists, and I am truly sorry if you are being forced to participate in things that go against your thoughts and beliefs. I don't think anyone should have that happen. Best of luck to you!

      October 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  6. jorge washinsen

    Should open everyday with a replay of the religion of peace at work on 9-11.We have short attention span.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:25 am |
  7. T.M. Reddy

    Death of another Muslim is helpful? Mr. shamsuddin
    This is a ridiculous statement my dear Muslim. Don’t construct the (your) religion garbage bag and teach other religions are bad.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:24 am |
  8. jorge washinsen

    It is their intention to rule the world and there be but one religion. Don't be taken in by the good cop bad cop syndrome.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  9. jorge washinsen

    We should never again be taken in by what any of them say.Remember 9-11.We got the message.We understand the religion and its intentions.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  10. tonyl

    This man was a low life and a criminal. He had the blood of innocent people on his hands. This is the best action taken by our government to take this filth out of this world by a drone. Let this be a example for the rest of the low lives terrorists of this world. Speaking as a Muslim, this makes me feel good to see this man meets his creator and takes a dirt nap.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:01 am |
    • jorge washinsen

      He was one among millions.Why make a distinction?

      October 1, 2011 at 6:22 am |
  11. shamsuddin

    what kind of Muslim makes the statement that the death of another Muslim is helpful? Helpful to who? On the same token, what kind of Muslim engages in killing innocent people and saying its for Islam? Every religion has its crazies, believe that!

    October 1, 2011 at 5:35 am |
    • T.M. Reddy

      Death of another Muslim is helpful?
      This is a ridiculous statement my dear Muslim. Don’t construct the (your) religion garbage bag and teach other religions are bad.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:21 am |
    • JohnR

      I suspect he feels it'll help this mosque put this jerk behind them.

      October 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  12. Altee11

    Anwar Al-Awlaki sent two attacks our way, including the underwear bomber and the UPS delivery of ink cartridges. His two shots missed us; our return fire got him. He tried to kill us all, and we just fired back in self defense. This was not extra-judicial; it just took a while to return the fire.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:58 am |
    • sdk10

      Excellent point.

      Now all we need to do is call in an airstrike on the rest of Ji-idiots

      October 1, 2011 at 5:43 am |
  13. Altee11

    He sent two attacks our way, including the underwear bomber and the UPS delivery of ink cartridges. His two shots missed us; our return fire got him. He tried to kill us all and we just fired back in self defense. This was not extra-judicial; it just took a while to return the fire.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:57 am |
  14. Altee11

    Anwar Al-Awlaki should not be considered a muslim, nor even called a cleric. He lost that right a long time ago.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • sdk10

      The only thing he should be considered is....removed from the gene pool. The sooner the world gets rid of these sick idiots, the better off we'll be. And happier.....

      October 1, 2011 at 4:57 am |
  15. ronin

    He lost his right to due process when he left this country, holed up in Yemen and started recruiting Muslim extremists to kill Americans. He became an enemy combatant in the war against al Qaeda and terrorism. Pretty straightforward.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:51 am |
    • sdk10

      Right on, dude.

      As soon as all these @sswipes are dead, the better off the world will be.

      October 1, 2011 at 4:56 am |
  16. Google "occupy Wall Street"

    There are thousands of people protesting in the streets all over America. This is a MASSIVE story that is under a media blackout. Please Google "Occupy Wall Street" or "Occupy Together". They both have dot org sites. Take a look at what CNN is NOT reporting. It will scare you.

    October 1, 2011 at 3:51 am |
    • Sam A.

      Now this is news that matters.

      October 1, 2011 at 3:58 am |
  17. Klaark

    Glad to see racism, ignorance, blood lust, and bigotry are alive and well in America. And to think we might have learned something in the past 60 years...NOPE!

    October 1, 2011 at 3:45 am |
    • sdk10

      Have you read the Koran lately?

      October 1, 2011 at 3:55 am |
  18. sdk10

    2 down, couple billion to go!

    October 1, 2011 at 3:28 am |
    • Sam A.

      You are an idiot.

      October 1, 2011 at 3:54 am |
    • sdk10

      Sam A,

      RIght back at ya, SFB

      October 1, 2011 at 3:58 am |
    • will

      promoting the murder of billions , your worse them. .you should be out on a ledge somewhere you sic mf

      October 1, 2011 at 4:46 am |
    • sdk10

      To Will...

      Only those Islamic jihadist morons that deserve to meet Allah. Allow me to arrange a meeting

      October 1, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • will

      sdk then dont lump them all together on you hit list
      there is not 2 billion islamic terrorists out to get you
      sorry i cant help ,you ,join the army

      October 1, 2011 at 5:27 am |
    • sdk10

      To Will...

      I'm retired US Navy...

      Okay, I exaggerated. Maybe not a billion, but there sure are lot of these @sswipes running around int he world. They all need to die. Send 'em to Allah

      October 1, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  19. KM

    Religions of all kinds are for the ignorant weak-minded fools too unwilling or unable to think for themselves. Silly sheeple. Islam, Christianity, Judaism it doesn't matter, they alongside every other religion on this rock are delusional manifestations of our primitive ape brains.

    October 1, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • Really???

      @KM, Therein lies the crucial difference between us...... I am divinely inspired while you announce you have a primitive ape brain. Crawl back into your cave with that religious bigotry & allow others freedom of religion without persecution. The world does not revolve about you.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:19 am |
  20. who

    i wonder how they can prevent women from voting multiple times in Saudia ? They all look the same – black fat dolls !

    October 1, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • MDC

      Yawn. For a troll, you're kinda boring.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:15 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.