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. Mojoman

    He mentions that Racism, xenophobia and anti-religious hatred are bad? Funny to hear that from a muslim. Racism, xenophobia anti-religios hatred are raging in every single muslim country.

    Proves once again that muslims are nothing but bigots and hypocrites. They only say something if it helps them.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  2. Paul Kuzel

    Islam is not a religion. Islam is a sick and dangerous ideology. It is high time the rest of us treat it as such. The Boston tragedy shows there are no moderate or "good" muslims, all of them could be easily brainwashed. Let's stop this cancer from spreading before it is too late.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • zigs

      when you stop the cancer, are you advocating killing muslims? shame on you.

      anyone can be brainwashed by any ideology. I think it is important to understand the socio-economic status and upbringing of these people. NOTHING justifies violence of any kind but I'm curious to understand their social standing, etc.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • erin

      Two Muslims did something evil, out of 2 billion. Definitely proof.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:51 pm |

    What a human looking primate believer of evolution be designated as, human? primate?

    April 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  4. Notevangelical

    The only difference between the fundamentalist Moslem and the fundamentalist Christian is the name they assign to the God who's words and teachings they defile in the name of purity.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  5. John Stefanyszyn

    "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."

    Since all Americans, whether non Muslin or Muslim, believe in and worship first and foremost the way of freedon of self-rights and self-religion, why does the hatred exist?
    ....because the way of "freedom" is not a light, as Obama confesses, but is the way of self interest and self justification...of which the fruit is hatred and violence towards neighbor, friend, spouse, children, and strangers.

    "Freedom" also dictates that it is right to be free to worship any god.
    ...BUT there is Only One Creator and Christ,His Son, is the Only Way to Him.

    And it is Only Christ that will soon rule with Only the Will of the Father...and man's way of self "freedom" will be put to an end.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • lol??

      Mama Socie doesn't like to call Dad, SIR! It goes all the way back to the beginning. holywood eggs em on.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

      You are free to say, what ever you like, and a hindu ignorant to pray to his god monkey, secular by nature by claiming to be his son. Human?, primate?

      April 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • clarity

      "because the way of "freedom" is not a light, as Obama confesses"

      really? why don't you put whatever it was he said instead of quoting one word?

      Regardless, in the end you made the point the you think your fairy in the sky club is better than the others – pretty self-serving.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Jan Goldsmith

      Naive and misguided views are dangerous

      April 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  6. Hugh Mann

    and while Religions may be sacred, their followers are not.
    People will be judged based upon their actions, not merely their imaginations.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • clarity

      Doesn't the finger really point in a circle with respect to your statement. Similar to government by representation, what else are religions except what men have built them to be?

      April 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  7. Amit-atlanta-USA

    "Older brother in Boston bombings grew increasingly religious"


    Does NOT sound like Rocket Science to me!

    April 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm |

      a hindu ignorant does not have capacity to learn more than, what is on front of him, and you are no exception.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Mike

      Umm, no. Islamist fundamental religious beliefs tend towards violence. The list of terrorist acts by Christian, or Hindu, or even Jewish fundamentalists is pretty narrow.

      While I think you do not persecute Islam because of this, I also don't believe it is appropriate to distort the facts to try to convict all religions. Attempting to establish moral equivalency when it does not exist should be discouraged.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  8. SmartLawyer

    The Koran speaks for Muslims, and the Koran is a call to violence and subjugation of infidels. As long as people take the Koran seriously, we'll have violence.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • erin

      So does the Bible, dude.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Chris Prince

      False, the Quran (Considering you cant spell it, clearly a sign you dont know what youre talking about) is practically identical to the Bible. Extremist are those who you are refering. People who follow religions convey different meanings from the readings. Christian extremist blow up abortion centers, injuring and killing people in the process. Maybe you should read up on history. Christians have quite a bit of blood on there hands in the name of God. Try the Crusades, or the spanish inquisition. Witch hunts? I can go on and on.

      Stop the ignorance.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • lol??

      Have they changed the dates lately for witch hunting? Wouldn't want em to go extinct.

      April 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  9. Larry

    Of course we cannot lump evildoeers with Muslims. It's not the fault of the worldwide Muslim community that there are people who kill in the name of Allah. However, it's just peachy to proclaim that all Christians are evil because of the acts of people like Fred Phelps. But we can't say anything about Muslims, because even though members of the "Religion of Peace" will kill you if you make fun of Mohammed, we still can't risk offending them.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  10. Amit-atlanta-USA




    April 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Chris Prince

      No just the media loves feeding it to the sheep. Do your own research on these issues. Not just mainstream media.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  11. GodFreeNow

    Insanity is the most natural state of the human animal. Escaping it, requires sacrifice, courage, and discipline to learn the principles of "reason." Religion is just one of the rest stops on the road out of insanity. To me, it's no different than addiction or any other denial of reality. It does not predispose one to violence or cruelty, but without consciousness and the clear reasoning required to see the consequences of interconnectedness, the tools of violence, cruelty and exclusion are closer at hand.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • lol??

      ".....natural state of the human animal......."

      The implications of this aren't gonna work out. Same ol', same ol'

      April 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  12. Fox


    April 20, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  13. Mohamad

    I am Muslim and I personally condemn violent actions by Muslims or Non-Muslims in the name of religion. But, you must realize, Muslims do not have a single leader like pope to speak for them collectively as a group. Individually they do not have a mechanisms or right to speak for other Muslims as a group. Vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and condemn violence, and many even speak about it publicly, but this is never given a 24/7 coverage by the Zionist owned western media, who has its own agenda to exploit sensationalism and anti-Muslim sentiment. Finally, Muslims have not voted Al Qaida or any other violent jihadist group or individual to power, thus endorsing their approval of their actions, nor are they collectively funding them, so how are the Muslims collectively as a group responsible for the actions of these people. Now, on the other hand Christians have collectively elected their government to power in America and Jews have collectively elected their government to power in Israel, they even collectively fund the actions of these governments in the way of paying taxes to them. These 2 governments have bombed and killed millions of Muslims all over the world in the past few decades. I am yet to hear the Christians and Jews collectively condemn these violent actions.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • bomarmonk

      Muslims vote in America, even if America does have a majority of Christians, there are probably a larger majority of people who don't have a specific faith and consider themselves more secular in their beliefs. In this sense, the true Christian and Muslim believers probably have more in common than the secularists who don't want prayer in school, etc..

      Either way, it's very hard to say that our people are controlled by Zionists, although I'm have no doubt there is a pro-Israeli bias in our culture and our media (although there is ample evidence this is eroding). Keep in mind that the nation that contributes the most aid to the Palestinian State is America.

      That said, as a Christian, I would say that any violence is the work of evil. So in this sense, I would condemn unnecessary loss of lives and war in general. To truly aspire to God's plan, to follow Christ, is aspire to live at peace, to love even your "enemies."

      April 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • cougarcat

      The problem is with the Muslim terrorists and that there seems to be so many of them. When they kill people in the West in the name of hatred, inevitably there will be trust issues with Muslims. Somehow the Muslim community is unable to inspire these individuals not to commit these terrorist acts. The Muslim community could do a lot more to ensure that such radical ideas (killing and terrorizing innocent people) are not taking hold. Instead of paranoia about "Zionists".

      April 20, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  14. bomarmonk

    While I agree that we should not allow terror attacks to kindle hatred in our hearts, or inflame violent acts toward those who are merely perceived as having ethnic or religious connections to these moronic murderers, it would also be naive not to perceive that radical Islam inflames hatred and murder in the hearts of some of its most ardent followers. In this sense, Imam Khalid Latif's words, what seem to be the expression of a loving and compassionate Muslim, would seem far more sincere if their criticism was, first and foremost, more clearly directed at the radicalism that inspires Muslim terrorists. Islam needs to put its own house in order before aspiring to fix American culture.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  15. Mohamiss Shafique-Kaddir

    Bukhari (52:220) – Allah's Apostle said... 'I have been made victorious with terror'
    Abu Dawud (14:2526) – The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, "There is no god but Allah" and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet until the day the last member of my community will fight with the Dajjal (Antichrist)
    Muslim (1:33) – the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
    Muslim (20:4645) – "...He (the Messenger of Allah) did that and said: There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth. He (Abu Sa'id) said: What is that act? He replied: Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!"

    April 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • bomarmonk

      See my comment above yours. Aspire to peace; love your neighbor. This is the way of God. Mohammed, like Moses, was a prophet of a violent tribe, whose ancestors conquered at the point of the sword. Their laws and principals, while of interest to the historian, are obsolete, medieval, and completely superseded by another prophet who didn't conquer any people with a sword. He only conquered the grave and he will free the hearts of those who follow him. Go in peace and love even your enemy. Matthew 5:43- 48, "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." Who speaks the truth? I know what I believe in my heart, and that's why anyone on this earth is my brother or my sister, even if they don't know it yet. Go in peace!

      April 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  16. Debbie

    You tell ME to not lump evildoers with Muslims? Then STOP lumping law abiding gun owners, Christians and tea party members with mass murderers. The FACT is, nobody from the Tea Party has committed any crime. Unlike OWS – when the Tea Party converged in DC, they left the place CLEANER then when they arrived.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Doobs

      Randomly capitalizing WORDS does NOT make your blather any MORE persuasive.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Mike

      Umm, I think what she said was truth. Calling truth "blather" does not make it so, whether you use capitals or not.


      April 20, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  17. John Rich

    why not my president lumps me in with gunmen cause i own an assult rifle

    April 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Bob Lewis

      Oh, that's an easy one, dude: Because you're an inarticulate moron who probably shouldn't be allowed to post without a background check.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  18. Mohamiss Shafique-Kaddir

    Quran (9:29) – "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." "People of the Book" refers to Christians and Jews. According to this verse, they are to be violently subjugated, with the sole justification being their religious status. This was one of the final "revelations" from Allah and it set in motion the tenacious military expansion, in which Muhammad's companions managed to conquer two-thirds of the Christian world in the next 100 years. Islam is intended to dominate all other people and faiths.

    April 20, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Answer

      One nuke to take care of you.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm |

    do you have any answer Mohammad, my hindu brother?

    April 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • SS

      Sorry I cannot answer that. I guess the Buddhists and Hindus are condemned to hell because they were here amongst us before Christ and mohamad were born – excuse the spelling cuz I really don't care about someone who preaches killing innocent people. To amend what I am saying Christ was perfect and PEACEFUL as far as the bible tells us other than the 30 or so years that have been left out of his life here on earth.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  20. Lulu

    I am peace loving citizen but I will never apologise for the wrong doings of others be they muslims or not; and if I choose not to speak out, that is my choice and no one is going to force me to and I do not care whether you blame Islam or not because in the end; religion or ideology is like a tool, how it is used by a person determines the outcome and not the other way round. Therefore do not try to make me feel guilty by always screaming – "where are the so called muslims, where are they, how come they are not condemning these acts". I abhor acts of violence period; be they terrorism or criminal in nature and I have no reason to appease anybody at all or prove myself. I know who I am- a proud and peace loving citizen who happens to be of muslim faith.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Lulu

      ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION – I care less what you think of me or about the semantics- because I do not care who you are or what your intentions are. You have the right to label me any way you want but that does not make me who I am. I make who I am – a peace loving citizen who happens to be of muslim faith and who prays 5 times a day, fast 30 days every year and pay alms to the poor; and most importantly respect and love my neighbours.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • cougarcat

      The thing is Lulu that of course you have the right to be proud, angry and disengaging. Only it will do nothing to help your community getting along better with others.

      April 20, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Lulu

      COUGARCAT- I am not angry but I am sad for the loss of life and the injuries caused. No human is disengaged. As individuals we do not live in an island. I am judged for what I do as a person but not by the deeds of another person who purports to share something in common with me. If we are judged for the acts of others who we have no controol over than the whole human kind is guilty and let us all apologise to each other.

      April 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • D


      April 20, 2013 at 10:29 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.