April 20th, 2013
10:57 AM ET

My Take: Don't lump evildoers with Muslims

Editor's Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and executive director of NYU's Islamic Center.

By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

(CNN) - April 19, 2013, marks the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings, a terrorist attack that took the lives of 168 people and injured another 680. In the wake of the tragic events that took place in Boston this week, we should remind ourselves that the actions of a few deranged individuals don’t represent or reflect the communities that they more broadly come from. Timothy McVeigh, the Tsarnaev brothers and the likes of Adam Lanza, Wade Michael Page and Nidal Hasan are a group unto themselves, and we should not let their utter disregard for humanity affect our embrace of it.

This morning I woke up to messages from three different Jewish friends, a current undergrad at NYU, an NYU alum and a rabbi from the Bronx. Their respective messages, though short and simple, represented to me the kind of approach we all should be taking at this time.

"I will walk with anyone who feels unsafe, anywhere they need to go."

"(As) a past member of the NYU community, and as a Jew, I want to wish you, your loved ones and your community safety and health. May G-d bless us all that there is no backlash against the Muslim or any other community over the currently transpiring events. Hatzlacha and Bracha to all of you."

"If you find out any way we can be helpful please let me know."

This is what America is about. The courage of these words resonated deeply within me, especially in response to the cowardice of those who seek to divide us through their hateful acts of violence. Our coming together is our strongest asset in the face of this hate. We should not let terrorists divide us.

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My hope is that no one in Boston is left intimidated by this attack. We should do what we can to alleviate the fear that results from these acts of senseless violence.

It was beautiful to see the response from people - diverse in their race, ethnicity and religion - as they came together to help the people of Boston. My further hope is that we continue to stand together throughout this ordeal and not turn against one another. Our strength lies in embracing our diversity, and just as we are united in our anger and our grief, so, too, should we be united in our resolve.

Leaders of all backgrounds should step forward to condemn any act of bigotry and take full responsibility to ensure that no one further gets hurt due to a backlash from the attacks in Boston.

Racism, xenophobia and anti-religious hatred of any kind goes against the core values of equality and freedom that our country is founded upon, regardless of who is carrying it out or who it is being carried out against.

It is not OK to target innocent people just because they are Muslim. Since Monday, there have already been two hate crimes reported, one targeting an Arab, female doctor in Boston and a second targeting a Bengali man in the Bronx. How is it OK to inflict violence and hate toward individuals simply because of the way they look or their religious affiliation? And even if we are not perpetrating it, how is it OK for us to sit by and let it happen?

Simply put, it's not. We must be better than that.

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My continued thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston, those who we lost, those who were injured, their loved ones, the courageous first responders and the law enforcement that has spent the last week finding those who carried out these heinous acts.

May people once again come from all over to run Boston's streets, and may we not let those who lack compassion triumph.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Khalid Latif

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam

soundoff (985 Responses)
  1. Joe C

    I'm getting tired of hearing the same old thing. Islam is peaceful...these people don't represent Islam. Okay, no problem. I realize not every Muslim is a jihadist, but honestly if you want to see what real Islam is like, look at the countries that are Islam. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait....etc. These are violent countries. They do hate many nations including the United States. They are violent against their women and children, give them no rights, and in some countries, do not want them to be educated or in positions of power. Many countries allow the whipping and beating of their women....it's actually endorsed by the religious leaders and allowed by the rulers. Islam peaceful? Sure...the watered down version here in the US might be, but elsewhere? I'm not convinced.

    April 21, 2013 at 3:13 am |
    • garyg1

      Islam is not peaceful in any stretch of the world. Islam is anti-human.

      April 21, 2013 at 3:55 am |
    • Lina Z

      You forgot to look at the ongoing war in Pakistan and Afghan. Millions of innocent Muslims were killed. MILLIONS! And who did this? Ask yourself which country has sent their troops there. Which countrymen has helped the smuggling of weaponry to these countries? Which countrymen are hailed as heroes on their return to their country after causing so much violence and pain to the innocent? US! That's who!

      Addressing your issue about Islam being a misogynistic religion, your argument is invalid. Show me a verse from the Quran, citing its ayat and surah, which claims it is ok to hit women. As a matter of fact, the status of women are higher than that of men. There is a saying in Islam that "Islam has raised the status of women from below the earth to so high that paradise lies at her feet." Capiche Joe C??

      April 21, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  2. Rev. Tyrone Pope



    April 21, 2013 at 3:12 am |
  3. Kregg

    oh my allah they get macho jihadist feelings hurt!

    April 21, 2013 at 3:02 am |
  4. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Chaplain, please join all of us who recognize the violent natures so many of us have, and who want to work against religion and other malformed, baseless belief systems that provide inspiration and justification for violent acts in people capable of such acts. Islam is no better than Christianity or Judaism in that regard. If you are a believer, at least feel some responsibility to find and expose the most evil parts of your religion.

    April 21, 2013 at 2:44 am |
  5. Reality Check

    I am a an American. I am a Muslim. I am a combat wounded veteran. Do you want me to leave as well ? Am I a suspect? Is this what America has become about? I wonder would you feel the same if the Natives that actually lived here had all the same military firepower that your predecessors did. And then Natives to tell them to go home or back to their country. Would you feel it justified? Do not kid yourself. Muslims are not the only ones who commit crimes and terrorism while using religion as their excuse. Yes I said it, excuse. If any one you who sits there and says oh Islam is evil , it is not polite etc etc, come to any Mosque in USA, pick a day, come unannounced, sit down and actually listen what is being shared and what is being preached. Stop making conclusions based on something you have "heard" Be more Jesus like and little less Christian. Again, don't forget. Christians also commit crimes and terrorism using religion as an excuse. Look at Northern Ireland, look at Holly Wars where Christian soldiers were ordered to kill everyone in Israel not just the non Christians. The bottom line is this, there are people of every background or every color of every religion who just miss few screws in their head. I was willing to give my life for this great nation of ours but after reading some of the comments it hurts deep within. May God bless you all and entire world! Lord knows we can use all the blessings possible.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • Robyn

      Very simply.....well said! 🙂

      April 21, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      You and I live in the here and now.....events that happen before we were born are not our responsibility....But in the years ive been alive I ve seen everything from the slaughter of Jewish atheletes at Munchen all the way through to the Boston bombings. Islam is utter poison.

      I don't want you gone...I want your religion gone.....you might be a reasonable guy ....your religion isn't...

      April 21, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • Reality Check

      By what means have you learned about my religion? You do not understand that I want every single terrorist taken out. You do not understand that every member of the Mosque I go to wants the terrorists taken out. You do not understand that I have been reading the Qur'an my entire life and never did I read that it is ok to do what any of these cowards have done. And past is important because we have to learn from it and learn from our mistakes. I honestly doubt that Native Americans would have thought highly of "Christians" when they arrived to the continent. I am telling you as a person of good heart that what these guys are doing is not Islam. #1. if you kill yourself you will go to hell. #2. If you kill even only 1 innocent person, it is as if you have killed entire humanity. I could go on and on but I just wanted to show you some major parts. And why they are so important. The reason why so many horrible events have happened is because uneducated, poor and oppressed are lead by the ones who have kidnapped my faith and are using it to THEIR OWN BENEFIT. And believe me, let me hear ANYONE talking badly about MY country, the BEST country in the world, I would be the first one calling the FBI immediately . Best regards Goodswell.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:10 am |
    • Wren

      So the crude backwards Islamic laws throughout the world are not Islam? All the violence isn't Islam? The repressed status of women? The problem is very widespread.

      In other words, you seem to be rubbing up against the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

      You might also consider that the parts of you that you put forward to establish credibility are actually not Islamic ideals but American ones.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:23 am |
    • sanjosemike

      Reality Check, first of all I appreciate your very nice reading posts. However, both of us know that the material you present HERE is not the same as what is discussed in your Mosque by fellow believers. For example, to a person, EVERY ONE of your fellow Muslims believes absolutely that Israel must be destroyed.

      Second, what you say to us is NOT the same as what you say to each other. In Hadith, it is certainly permissible, and even required to practice Taqiyya in order to defend the faith. Thus, any lies you promote here on this site are required by your religion to further it.

      I'm sure you are surprised that some Americans know about Hadith and Taqiyya. We are not all quite as stupid as you think we are.


      April 21, 2013 at 2:25 am |
    • Jeff

      When I start hearing condemnation of these attacks from the leadership of the Muslim community I'll start believing that Muslims are not dangerous. Don't start waving the American flag and turn around and praise those who have declared war on our nation.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:29 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Reality Check,

      Look beyond you holy book.... check out the foundations one which your religion is based....Judaism is false- most of it is barrowed from cultures that came before. If Judaism is false how true can the other two religions (Christianity and Islam) based off of it be? Look at it from my perspective.....all this death and destruction for NOTHING.....a complete waste of lives. Lose the religion and live free man:) your sense of right and wrong came from you...not that stupid ball and chain with ISLAM stamped on it.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:30 am |
    • Reality Check

      Like I mentioned earlier. Come to any Mosque, unannounced and hear what goes on. Believe me FBI does. And you can hear about Hadith and what is discussed. You can only call on Jihad if you are attacked. I am sorry my dear friend but no one is attacking me here in the states. I am allowed to practice my faith and I love the fact that I can do that in MY country. If I ever felt that I no longer had that right, I would move away, far away where I can practice it. And it is absolutely not true that I say one thing to you and something contrary to muslims at the Mosque. That is why I said come for a visit and listen. Mosque I go to had a very very diverse populace from Arab to American Caucasian and African American so no one would have a slightest clue that you are not Muslim. I am sure that you will hear the language of hate in those Mosques that have been turned into placed of hatred instead of places of worship. And to Wren, I was born into a Muslim family and raised in the faith. What I put forward is what my parents and grand parents have taught me and how I was raised . I am putting forward what I learned from reading my holly book and educating my self further. I repeat again, anyone who does not believe me , visit any one of the Mosques in the US. I promise you, you will be surprised. And yes the Islam has been hijacked in many parts of the world. Why? Because people have realized that they can use It as means for their personal gains, no different then so many have done with others in the past.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • Reality Check

      Jeff, there have been many. At my mosque the imam started Friday prayer with following statement. "May God punish those who hurt innocent and pure souls at the Boston Marathon. Anyone who committed such terrible thing will be judged by god on the day of judgment. Those who did this, are cowards and did not do this for Islam. They are murderers " Just a short portion.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:44 am |
    • lol??

      RC, How do the Muslims keep their women under control? No need to state the obvious but in the West the women are as out of control as the politicians. It's so hard to get decent help these days.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  6. tcaros

    Once Muslims define others as infidels then I will define Muslims as evil doers.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:45 am |
    • Reality Check

      I am a muslim and to me you are not an infidel. You never were and you never will be. Please study little more before jumping to such hasty conclusions.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Jenny Parr

      How about we all first learn to honor ourselves then pass it on? Religious beliefs aside – we are all it in together and until we stop assuming that one is BAD or WRONG due to our skin, religion, origin, etc.. then the madness will continue.
      Try this on – Honor oneself and you will in turn honor the world!

      April 21, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • Reality Check

      Well put Jenny!

      April 21, 2013 at 2:26 am |
  7. Robyn

    People are so self righteous, thinking they are perfect, and everyone else is not. Hatred perpetuates hatred in those who CHOOSE to participate. Trends or not, to broad brush an entire group is ignorant and racist. You have entered the same circle of hatred that terrorists exist. You may not act in terms of carrying out actions to kill...but you are perpetuating hatred no differently. This world will NEVER rid itself of terrorism so long as hatred exists. You people are so damn intolerant. It's sickening.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:40 am |
    • sanjosemike

      Robyn, it's not a matter of "hating" Muslims. I think you miss the point: There is a gulf of separation between Islam and the West. Islam fears Western society because our freedoms strike at the very basis of their religion.

      On OUR side, Islam strikes at the very basis of Western art, science, liberalism, democracy that goes back to the ancient Greeks.

      This is truly a clash of civilizations. If more Muslim countries obtain nuclear weapons, it is unlikely that human civilization will survive. We FEAR Islam for very good reasons. It's not a matter of hate. It's a matter of human survival as a species.


      April 21, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • Robyn

      sanjosemike, oh I get it. I do understand that it can be about fear, a clash of civilizations. You are right about that. Fear can be valid with ANYONE who has the capability to inflict terror on others, and I am not taking away from that. I am commenting more about the posts on here, people broad brushing the Muslim community, comments that perpetuate hatred.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • Robyn

      Let me be clear – fear of a person or people who have the capability to inflict terror is a valid feeling. Fear is very different than hatred. I do not, however, agree that blaming things on an entire religion or race is valid by any means. Humanity uses religion as an excuse for the actions they take. I am Christian and I am not ignorant to its past or present. But does any religion determine that I, too, am a bad person because I am a part of it?

      April 21, 2013 at 2:30 am |
  8. Sue

    Nearly every war front in the world right now involves this group attacking others, sorry that is quite a trend.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:27 am |
  9. Reason

    Lets see... over 100 000 dead in Iraq but that's not terror. All you muslim hating bigots should give your heads a shake. The US and her allies are the most effective terrorists in the world. We should all be ashamed. The whole world needs to grow up and get past the killing.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Because Saddam would have just stepped down when asked right? yeah... how many died in his reign?

      you call us bigots ? Id say Islam has given us EVERY reason to hate and despise the religion and its radicals.
      and just so you know – Islam isn't a race – its a religion, and therefore a choice.... and choices, when they impact others, are most certainly fair game for ridicule.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • sanjosemike

      First of all Reason, I doubt your statistics. You make an assumption that the US is responsible for 100,000 Iraqi deaths. Most of those lost were from internecine battles between various Muslim sects (after the war).

      There is also a matter of "intent." The US never intended to kill Muslim civilians. I'm sure they did, but it was not intentionally. It's not a matter of "morality." Our soldiers are simply more professional than any other in history. We seriously try to avoid civilian casualties.

      On the issue of getting rid of Saddam Hussein, (and his psychopathic sons), are you saying that you would prefer that Uday or Qusay Hussein NOW run Iraq? Surely you don't think so!

      There is always a cost to war. But there is always also a cost to pacifism. Pacifism is just another foreign policy that must stand on its own merits. Our Pacifism now is leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. I'm not saying I support our non-involvement in Syria. I'm just asking for honesty: We are not involved. There are more casualties as a result. And that will continue.


      April 21, 2013 at 2:06 am |
  10. 1world

    I have a express of thought,,its funny how people tell the muslims to leave or koreans and etc..and if we do america is nothing without us immigrants bc it was made by immigrants from all the countries,,and gladly i think they might all just leave so, so much for the land itself,,i really don't see future in it then..a bunch of dumb people would be running america...

    April 21, 2013 at 1:11 am |
  11. GaSiva

    How is it OK to inflict violence and hate toward individuals simply because of the way they look or their religious affiliation? – Imam

    Oh, yeah!? Tell that to your brothers who are terrorizing others simply because they follow other religion. Forget other religion – you are so hateful that you cannot even stand a slight difference in belief even within your own religion. Shia/Sunni fight, unfair treatment of Ahmediya's is just an example!

    yes there have been other voilence such as Oklahoma bombing. but the main difference is they did not do it for religion.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:09 am |
  12. tony

    Violence comes from religious belief being used to override individual consciences. All religions do it sooner or later.
    Most of the worst wars in Europe were between Catholics and various other variants of Christianity.r

    April 21, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Athy

      Religion is the scourge of humanity. Let's get rid of it.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:09 am |
  13. Kenman

    It's just like Whoopi tried on The View, liberal apologists always trot out Timothy Mc
    Veigh, thinking they can equate that one lunatic with the thousands of Muslim attacks and attempted attacks in our lifetime! Well, it doesn't fly.

    The terrorists in this story, like most literally every other story of terrorism, were Muslim, "radicalized" by their more devout allegiance to the most vocal wing of the "religion"; remembering that it is Islam that most minorities take up in prison as a unifying ideology for their anti-social and bitter gangs, and it is Islam that is at war with civilization, striving to keep their followers uneducated and backwards, especially the women.

    No other "religion" has such unenlightened and primitive traditions that must be followed and none others dictate the laws and the intolerance of outsiders as it does.

    Why are so many afraid to criticize it, when it is popular in politically correct culture to bash every sect of Christianity? Really, ask yourselves that honestly and your eyes should be opened to the danger.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • SusanF

      "No other "religion" has such unenlightened and primitive traditions that must be followed and none others dictate the laws and the intolerance of outsiders as it does." Not an enlightened statement, Kenman.

      Have you studied the history of the Christian church? It is enough to make me ashamed to be one at times (and do my best to overcome their atrocities with loving example). Starting in the 4th century, it was commonplace for Christian leaders to have non-Christians (usually referred to as pagans, no matter what religion they followed) stripped of their rights and lands (at the least) or executed just for refusing to change their belief to a belief in Christ. Age was no concern; children were often included in these executions. Century after century, new areas were "pacified" or "civilized" and brought to Christ by force. Saxons, Turks, Irish, South American natives, North American natives, Africans, Asians of all cultures at some point were brought to the sword.

      A study of the Crusades can educate you thoroughly on man's inhumanity to man, woman, and child. Then there were the atrocities Christians performed on other Christians in the name of heresy (Manichaean, Albigensians, Cathars, Waldensians...), the most famous performer being Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada.

      There are the Irish "Troubles" where two different forms of Christianity performed terror acts on each other in modern times. Less violent, but no less terroristic, are the emotional attacks by the Westboro Baptist Church, which has already announced its intent to picket the funerals of Boston Marathon bombing victims. Their tweet, linking to a flyer that has all sorts of hate including "God sent the bombs!" says, "THANK GOD FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBS!!Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals of those killed." Look here if you think I'm kidding. http://t.co/VrsxHlNjXe

      So please don't say it is "just the Muslims" who spew violence. Saying that the terrorists represent Islam is like saying the KKK or the Westboro Baptist Church represent the whole of Christianity. It's just not so.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • Sasha

      To SusanF, the Troubles in Ireland were never about religion. They were about land, colonization and ethnicity. NOT religion.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:32 am |
  14. garyinco

    Unfortunately there is statistical link between many acts of terrorism and the Muslim faith. In the US, western Europe, the Far East, the Middle East and in too many cases the perpetrators are Muslims. All Muslims aren't terrorists, all terrorists aren't Muslims but there is a consistency that cannot and should not be ignored.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:00 am |
  15. Robert D

    How can muslims say that islam is the religion of peace? Check this site out....

    wvinter dot net/~haught/Koran dot html (remove the 'dot's)...

    Quran (8:12) – "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

    Quran (9:123) – "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness."

    Quran (48:29) – "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves"

    Bukhari (52:177) – Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."

    Bukhari (52:65) – The Prophet said, 'He who fights that Allah's Word, Islam, should be superior, fights in Allah's Cause.

    Bukhari (8:387) – Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah'. And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally."

    Bukhari (11:626) – [Muhammad said:] "I decided to order a man to lead the prayer and then take a flame to burn all those, who had not left their houses for the prayer, burning them alive inside their homes."

    Tabari 7:97 The morning after the murder of Ashraf, the Prophet declared, "Kill any Jew who falls under your power."

    Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 992: – "Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah."

    Sounds to me like they are to be peaceful to their own but kill everyone else. Not very 'peaceful' to me.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Truthhasnoreligion

      These are just lies. People like you are intentionally spreading misinformation about a religion followed by more than a billion people. Every religion has its problem. Islam is no different, but in its essence Islam, like all other religions strives to make the world a better place through compassion, tolarence and mutual respect. May the light shine upon you as well.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • sanjosemike

      Truthhasnoreligion charges that Robert D's post contains lies. Yet, those quotations stand for themselves. They are what they are.

      Not mentioned in Robert D's post is the issue of Taqiyya. Taqiyya is "lying" to promote Islam. Hadith not only condones it, but also requires it of believing Muslims.

      Thus, Muslims will print one thing (to the West) and between themselves espouse destruction of the West. It's perfectly permissible in Islam.

      If you mention "Taqiyya" to your Muslim friends, their eyes will get cold. You then will learn the truth.


      April 21, 2013 at 2:14 am |
  16. Ben

    It should be clear to anyone who has observed the Muslim culture that Islam is the Devil's faith. Never forget, Mohammed was a child rapist and pedophile. Pure evil. It is sick that anyone would be a follower of such a pervert.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Robert D

      Don't forget that he was a drunkard, a racist, and a warmonger.

      For those of you who are going to flame me, read up on islam. Read up on this 'mohamad' character. muslims of today will not want to admit to this guy's character but it is all spelled out in the koran.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:02 am |
  17. Ben


    How about the Neo-Nazi terrorists in Germany? Or the IRA?

    Terrorism is not exclusively committed by Muslims.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Robert D

      True, the muslims don't have a corner on the terror market. But they are the only group that seems to have political protection from countries that are victim to muslim terror attacks.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:03 am |
  18. Kapos

    Islam is not a religion that promotes equality OR freedom. This muslim "preacher" is so full of shlt his eyes are brown.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  19. Marty

    Until the islamic leadership actually condemns terrorist acts and stops using mosques as sanctuaries, things will never change.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:51 am |
    • markwrogers

      Until Christian leaders condemn war & child abuse and stop using Churches as sanctuaries, things will never change.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  20. Foreal89

    I am so sick of the muslim community telling us what to do. I will loop you in with the evil doers. You are a disease to a country. Leave

    April 21, 2013 at 12:45 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.