By Wajahat Ali
Whatever was in the mind of alleged shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan, there is no reason to question the loyalty of Muslim Americans
After an American soldier’s tragic outburst of violence at Fort Hood, Texas – the army’s largest US post, with some 40,000 troops – dominates the headlines, a fear-mongering hysteria concerning his supposed religious motivations is taking priority over questions regarding his mental health.
Although the facts, and clues about motive, are still being uncovered, we know that the alleged shooter, 39-year-old Major Nidal Malik Hasan, is an American-born medical doctor and licensed psychiatrist, who also happens to be a Muslim born to Palestinian immigrant parents.
When Hasan’s Arabic name was revealed as the alleged shooter, the blogosphere and message boards lit up with the predictable assortment of anonymous bigoted bile vilifying Islam and questioning the loyalty of American Muslims.
Thankfully, most mainstream voices, such as Republican senator John Cornyn of Texas, urged caution and moderation, stating: “It is imperative that we take the time to gather all the facts, as it would be irresponsible to be the source of rumours or inaccurate information regarding such a horrific event.”
But some, such as Republican US representative Michael McCaul of Austin, Texas, alarmingly responded with inflammatory histrionics: “Whether it was domestic or foreign, clearly when a US military base is attacked in this fashion, that is an act of terror in my book.”
If it is discovered that this lethal rampage was motivated by an inexcusable and misplaced sense of religiosity, it would provide ammunition to those extreme rightwing, minority voices in America who are convinced their Muslim neighbours are stealth jihadists ready to commit suicide bombings at a moment’s notice. These proponents of modern day McCarthyism find their allies in members of the “Birther movement”, who remain convinced President Obama is not an American citizen. Their esteemed colleagues include those who pontificate about Obama being a closet Muslim and an agent of socialism.
Reports of an image taken hours before the killings showing Hasan in a prayer cap seem to insinuate that a common article of clothing worn by many Muslims before they are about to pray somehow conclusively proves an religious intent behind the violence. A blog note attributed (though this is unconfirmed) to Hasan – comparing terrorist suicide bombings to suicidal acts during war to protect fellow soldiers and inflict damage upon the enemy, such as Japanese kamikaze missions – is being pointed to on the net as his potential justification for the alleged shootings.
It should comfort most Americans that mainstream Muslim American organisations, which often espouse a sense of victimhood and unnecessary rationalisations, unequivocally denounced Hasan’s alleged actions as “heinous” and incompatible with Islam. The Council of American Islamic Relations issued a statement saying: “No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence.”
Ultimately, this use – or misuse – of fear and rumour over Hasan’s Islamic faith should be moot in light of the record of the thousands of Muslim American soldiers who have served and made sacrifice – such as Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, awarded the prestigious Purple Heart and Bronze Star and praised by Colin Powell, who now rests in Arlington cemetery after giving his life to protect and serve his country in Iraq. There are currently 20,000 Muslims serving with honour in the US military, according to the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council. If Hasan’s faith is ultimately proven to be the misguided inspiration for his violence, then the brave and patriotic service of thousands of Muslim American soldiers renders him an isolated and aberrant exception.
Sadly, although yesterday’s violent outburst against fellow soldiers was the most deadly in US history, it was not the first of its kind. In May this year, five soldiers were shot dead at Camp Liberty in Baghdad by Sergeant John Russell. In February 2008, an Air Force sergeant diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) upon returning from Iraq fatally shot his son and daughter after a domestic argument with his ex-wife. Religion was not the common link between these soldiers; it was mental instability. Even if such individuals purported to be religious, their wanton acts of barbarism reflect rather their tenuous grasp on sanity.
A cousin of Hasan, interviewed by reporters, has suggested an alternative motivation, not necessarily influenced by religious conviction. “He was mortified by the idea of having to deploy,” said Nader Hasan. “He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there [in Iraq and Afghanistan].”
Originally published by The Guardian. The rest of this article can be found here
Dear, Suhaib Webb dot com and fellow muslims. It is sad about the incident that happened yesterday in Ft. Hood, Texas. But what is just as sad and shameful is your bias blogging of injustice. I haven’t seen one article you have posted about Imam Luqmans assasination this week by the FBI. But you are quick to respond to this trajedy, but when Muslims are targeted, you are missing in action. It makes me wonder! I pray to Allah that you become compassionate and speak out against injustice for all.
I encourage you to fear Allah and have the best expectations of your brothers. We have been in contact with his family and are seeking an interview with his son, Omar Regan. As for justice for all, I have to wonder if you noticed the post below this one, or the posts over the last three weeks that dealt with Muslims being ill treated? I wonder if you looked at the large number of posts on filisitine?
My sincere apologies being that I am not an eloquent writer. I love this website and brother Suhaib Webb. When I said it makes me wonder? I meant why hasnt the Website released a statement or information about the death of Imam Luqman? Nothing else. And if i offender anyone please ask Allah to forgive my lamen mistakes.
No problem. We are trying to deal with loads of stuff and can’t do it all. If your interested in volunteering email me at email@example.com. We can put you to work!
What kind of volunteering are you looking for? maybe have a post with the opportunities available and see who would like to sign up.
Imam Suhaib, this is a definate tragedy. I was driving to school when WBAI stopped programming for the news bulletin of this incident. SubhanAllah. What kind of things would you suggest college and graduate students do to ease this situation and at the same time keep ourselves out of the line of fire? Akhi, my parents would really rather I not got to masajid because of being targeted. Alhamdulillah we’re working on a visiting the sick program at my University inshaAllah it comes into fluition and the MSA is very active on campus. HasbunAllahu wa ni3mal wakeel. Is there anything you would suggest we as young muslims can do or what programs you think would be more beneficial at this particular time in light of this incident? And what can we say to help ease the hearts of those who are worried about our safety when we go out in the street? InshaAllah last question, could you explain for me how to make qunut and when it should be performed?
It sure is a tragedy and the sad part is that the media is again shunning all Muslims because of one man who lost his path…
MCA had additional security during Jumma, there were very few people at the second Jumma.
Its during these times that we need to stick together.
Dear Imam Suhaib Webb,
I have come upon information that Nidal Hasan was a follower of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who you may know, now runs a website that calls for America’s destruction and for the mujahadeen to join forces to kill.
Nidal listened to al-Awlaki and believed in his extremist brand of Islam. In fact, Al-Awlaki, who I used to love and was inspired by his CDs about the lives of the prophets, etc., is now using his talents to promote evil and hate in the name of Islam. Check out his website and notice the comments section — the many US and UK Muslim youth who are swayed by his message, and in Nidal’s case, carrying it out to kill.
Nidal shouted Allahu Akbar as he killed. He gave Qur’ans to his neighbors the morning and day before his killing.
I find this all tremendously disillusioning.
I was made aware of Anwar Awlaki’s change over the last few months and find it greatly distrubing, un-healthy and harmful. I hope and pray that Muslims in the West will avoid this kind of message and ideology.
Alhamdilulah, I am a convert to Islam and very troubled by remarks like the one left by brother Saeed. It is very scary when Muslims make insinuations against scholars and devout Muslims like Imam Suhaib Webb. So what do ‘you wonder’ about brother Saeed? Is it not obvious to every one that we as Muslims are concerned when a brother and Imam is gunned down so viciously.
The truth us that as far as Imam Luqman is concerned, it is a tragedy but the facts are not known. The authorities claim he opened fire first. Do you really believe there is a conspiracy amongst law enforcement to gun down Muslims? Police and law enforcement over react and kill people all the time. Should we stop as Americans stop trusting the authorities and feed your type of paranoid thought.
The fact is that as Muslims we are not responsible for the actions of the kaffir. We can demand explanations and investigations into what happened and that is it. We are responsible for our brothers and sisters and what Nadal Malik Hassan did is going to have reverberations on Muslims in America. If he was deranged or not – he touted himself as a devout Muslim and called takbir before or while shooting, killing and maiming INNOCENT people. If he was just a Muslim without any kind of religious ideology behind him, we would not need to react or bother ourselves with this. But that is not the case.
Brother Saeed I suggest you concern yourself with the well being of our communities and reflect on this and wonder what poisonous wells Malik Hassan was drinking from and do not point fingers at others about tragedies that are incomparable in magnitude and scope. Unfortunately it is comments like your that lack compassion and do not serve the good brothers and sisters at large and help feed antagonism and suspicion of Muslims.
Brother Saeed already apologized, buddy. Don’t worry too much about it.
The case of Imam Luqman is still being investigated. Detroit Imams have briefly met with the FBI to see what they have had to say. He shot the dog after they unleashed it on him, which reminded him of the time when dogs were unleashed on blacks in the 60s. We should let the case be dealt with properly and not let our emotions control us too much. We need plenty of Muslim and non Muslim lawyers working on this issue. The ACLU recently joined in. Which is why we need more Muslims going to law school instead of medical school…
Yes, let’s preoccupy ourselves with Imam Luqman he is the major issue right now for American Muslims. In fact it does not concern me at all, I leave it to the authorities.
BTW you don’t need to shoot a police dog to get shot, anybody who even raises a weapon at a police office is going to be shot at, even if he is an Imam.
I agree with you in that I am deeply concerned by that which is within our jurisdiction, namely that we have Muslims in our communities who can commit such atrocities against innocents while shouting Takbir. I am of course concerned by all acts of injustice, but when it is from within our own Ummah, it falls upon us to remedy this blight.
The first step, I believe, is to stop the denial and playing the victim card. We should be proud of all that we are, subhanAllah, and nothing should allow us to fall so low as to blame others and seek excuses when those from amongst us commit such heinous crimes. These are complex, multi-faceted issues and motivations, but regardless, we need to take steps to better educate our own people about the beauty of Islam and responsibility Muslims have towards humanity’s progress.
May Allah guide us,
While listening to the Abu Bakr series, I became aware of the focus that al-Awlaki was putting on for the “success” of Muslims in the world. He doesn’t ever call to direct acts of terror, but indeed you get the feeling as he is telling the story that waging militant Jihad against non-Muslims is a key to success for all times and places and the only real solution to our problems. This idea is against the consensus of modern jurists so he is representing an emotional interpretation of texts he read and not correctly deduced shari’ah. I warned the IPC where I worked not to propogate these CD’s because of how it might affect a zealous convert. In his, no doubt, deep studies of books he clearly has a sincere heart to want to make Islam a dingnified enitity once again. The problem is that he lacks the proper supervised education at the hands of real scholars.
As one of our great contemporaries, Sherman Jackson taught us at an Alim program in Michigan, “The world back then was empires and there was a perpetual state of war and so naturally no ideology was going to spread unless there were some wars. Thus the struggles of the Salaf in Da’wa from being tortured, abused, plotted against and so on… As Sh. Al-Qaradawi once noted today’s world of secularsim and democracy thankfully brings the Jihad of ideas out of the battlefeild and into the arena of media.
The truth is that sound scholarship and a proper understanding of the seerah would tell us that according to Shari’ah what Malik Hasan did was indeed an atrocious crime against these people and a huge sign of corruption in Malik’s faith and values. We know this because being a citizen in the US requires an allegiance or oath which we must upheld is we plan to live here. We read in 5:1 of the Qur’an “O you who believe, fulfill all covenants and oaths…” And in 5:8 “O you who believe, be persistantly standing firm for Allah as a witness to jsutice. Don’t allow your hatred for a people to cause you to be unjust.” In 4: 58 ” And Allah commands you to fulfill your trusts/responsibilities/rights to whom they are due and when you judge then judge with justice…”
In 2:26-27 We read how breaking our oaths and coventants and neglecting the rights Allah has enjoined upon man are of the characteristics of those who don’t believe in and therefore aren’t guided by the Qur’an.
It is well known in the seerah that the Prophet personally went through great measures to draw up peace treaties with the Pagans from Makkah and neighboring Jewish tribes. He saw it as a major sin to break these covenants. To the extent that he said “Whoever kills a non-Muslim under treaty with the Muslims will not so much as smell the scent of heaven” Now according to the consensus of our scholars over history the only one who may take anothers life is; in the case one is being attacked and cannot escape an attacker or someone who is defending someone else who is defenseless and are being attacked. Other than that the judicial branch of a muslim GOVERNMENT may take retribution for those whose crimes call for the death penalty. Last and most important for our discussion is the call for militant Jihad known in the west as “a just war” . Only the head of a Muslim state can call for such action, NOT bin laden, zawahiri, or any other politically motivated emotionally overcome person. Till now it is well known that no Muslim head of state is calling for a Jihad against the US and it is not just because they are weak and scared as the extremists would say. The truth is that neither the US gov. nor a noticable percentage of the US is against Islam or have shown any clear enmity towards Muslims as an offensive agreesive military position. Conspiracy theorists DO NOT set the bar in Islam. In our Aqeedah we judge people on their outward claims and not our suspicion about them and their TRUE motivations. I worked in Kuwait with many military men. Some were converts as well as people of other faiths. The soldiers are all sent believing and being taught that they are there to help the people of Iraq. There are racist elements who act on thier racism in conflcit over there but they don’t represent the gov. policy and they aren’t anywhere near the majority. No doubt there are political agendas, but none of them are any where near to be proven to attack Muslims and bring harm to them.
We must live in reality -not emotion- and take the proper measures for supporting our cause as Muslim Americans. We must work to make ourselves better people who stand out for moral excellence and positive activism supporting justice and human rights for everone. We must be politically active on the local and national fronts. We seek make the world a better place and spread the mercy, love, compassion and kindness that the Prophet was sent as the prime example. We must do this with wisdom guided by our scholars.
If the sad day in which the great constitution upon which this country was built is violated and desacrated by the government taking a stance against Muslims then we would be commanded to make Hijrah to a place where we can peacefully be accepted, practice our faith and make our da’wa. Even in such an unlikely event we are not to take matters into our own hands as individuals a take up arms unless we are actually being threatened of imminent attack then in that case we defend ourselves which is a main reason why the 2nd amendment of the consititution was raitfied by our forefathers.