In Time of Crisis, Americans Must Act With Tolerance

By Muslim Student Association

On behalf of Georgetown Muslim students, we would like to express our grief and sorrow over the tragic and horrifying attacks that occurred Sept. 11. As American Muslims, we are angered and appalled at the heinous acts committed against innocent civilians and fellow citizens. Muslims are reminded at this time of a verse in the Qur’an, which says, “Do not take a life which God has made sacred” (17:33).

The Qur’an also states, “O Humankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you” (49:13).

At this tragic time of anger and mourning, we must remind ourselves of the bond of humanity that unites us as God’s creation. We cannot allow this attack to weaken that bond or the certainty of our faith in God. There is no sense or rationality to hatred, killing or terror, yet as believers we can always find hope through our trust in God’s justice.

As emotions run high, we must not forget the principles of freedom and equality that our nation stands for and which were attacked in this tragedy. If freedom and democracy are to prevail, we must not succumb to terror by inflicting it upon our own fellow citizens. Whether the perpetrators are from our midst or foreigners, they could succeed in no better way than to destroy that essential fabric of our society which allows us to coexist and thrive in our diversity.

Muslim nations all over the world, as well as every national American Muslim organization, have joined together in condemning these horrifying acts. They stand committed to bringing the perpetrators – whoever they may be – to justice. We too are victims and targets of these attacks as Americans. Thousands of American Muslims are among those who worked in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon areas, and terrorists do not distinguish amongst their victims.

While we share our fellow Americans’ sentiments of grief, loss and despair, we also find ourselves at a difficult crossroads. Like every other American, we are filled with the same fear and vulnerability that this attack has forced upon our nation. Yet we are also faced with false associations of our religion with the perpetrators alleged to have committed these acts.

Since Tuesday’s catastrophes, Muslims across the nation find themselves targets of their fellow Americans’ rage. As all Americans cope with the attack on their liberty and security, American Muslims also question their own sense of safety. Before the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing were identified, American Muslims bore the brunt of the blame. For this reason, it is critical to avoid rushing to conclusions. One need only look back on our nation’s history to find such actions detrimental to a healthy American existence. During World War II, Japanese-Americans were deported and interned in concentration camps; their only crime was belonging to the “wrong” ethnic group. As long as we continue to demonize “the other,” we will never learn from such experiences.

Already, a number of mosques and Muslim-owned businesses have been vandalized. In other instances, some Muslim women around the U.S. have been threatened, have been verbally abused and have had their veils pulled off. Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune reported an incident in which an Illinois man used a two-foot-long machete to attack a gas station attendant he believed was of Arab descent. any schoolchildren and university students are not attending classes for fear of physical abuse and taunting from peers.

Here at Georgetown, we are thankful and honored to be part of a community that has shown great solidarity and understanding to its uslim members. University President John J. DeGioia attended a uslim prayer service on Tuesday, where he expressed concern for uslim students’ safety and recognized the grief Muslims feel regarding the tragedies. Additionally, many other administrators, faculty, students and members of Campus Ministry have approached Georgetown Muslims with offers of support. In trying times, we must find common ground and let the seeds of peace be sown with compassion.

In this spirit, the Muslim Students Association urges all students to donate blood and contribute to the relief effort. We encourage all university community members to continue praying for the victims and for justice to be served. Once again, we implore everyone to refrain from labeling and stereotyping others. Let there be no more victims.

The Muslim Student Association is an officially recognized university association.

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