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September 28, 2016

Discussing Islam after Fort Hood

I remember sitting at a table filled with people when I got a text from CNN. It read, “CNN Breaking News – At least seven people killed and 12 wounded in a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, a Pentagon official says.” At that moment, I remember reading the text message and saying, “Please God, let it not be a Muslim.” Lo and behold, only a few hours later, I would have my response via another CNN Breaking News text. This time, “Alleged Fort Hood gunman – U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan – is alive and in custody.”  At the end of it all, 13 were left dead, 29 injured and millions were scarred.

The Onion is an online parody news source which did a brief story on the Fort Hood shootings a week after they happened. In it, they describe the reactions of Muslims as saying “Hey, great, eight years of progress right down the shitter – and you just had to scream ‘Allahu Akbar’ while you did it, didn’t you? May as well have put on a turban and rode a [expletive] camel right through the army base, you dick. Thanks for making the foreseeable future a living hell for normal, peace-loving Muslims in this country. Really appreciate it!” Even though the Onion is supposed to be a parody site, I felt exactly this way. It is amazing how close parody imitates reality.

Major Hasan, you are an absolute fool. What were you possibly thinking when you attacked those at the Fort? What made you want to take their lives, and what did you possibly think would happen to you? Did you really think you would be able to get away? If you didn’t want to live or didn’t want to get deployed, do something different – that isn’t a reason to not only ruin your own life but also the lives of peace-loving Muslims in the United States.

All of the progress that Muslims have made since 9/11 has been damaged by your stupid and illogical actions. Everything we’ve worked so hard for is once again going to be called into question. Every time a Muslim now wants to join the armed services, their intentions will be questioned. Every time a Muslim wants to learn how to fly a plane, their intentions will be questioned. Even the pursuit of medicine will now be questioned. You, sir, have single handedly set us back as a society simply because you didn’t want to go to Afghanistan to serve in the military you signed up to serve.

Why didn’t you just quit? Why didn’t you hold your head up and say ‘I don’t want to serve in Afghanistan’? Why instead did you decide to kill and injure those whose purpose it is to protect us as Americans? As President Obama said so fittingly at the memorial service for the fallen, “No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice – in this world and the next.”

Do you even know anything about the religion you seem to have tried to defend? The Islamic religion commands believers to obey the laws of the land they live in. Muslim jurists consider citizenship to be a covenant held between the citizen and the state, one which guarantees security in exchange for certain obligations such as obeying the laws of the land; covenants are considered sacredly binding in Islam. As the Qur’an states, “…and fulfill every covenant. Verily, you will be held accountable with regard to the covenants” (17:34).

On Friday, as I was walking with a friend to a dorm building, we passed by a large group of drunk males. One looked at me and said “Don’t blow up the fucking towers.” As I turned to respond, I was reminded of life in a post-9/11 society, one where people have defined actions by ignorant individuals as “going Muslim.”

The term “going Muslim” was recently coined by a professor at NYU who “would describe the turn of events where a seemingly integrated Muslim-American – a friendly doughnut vendor in New York, say, or an officer in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood – discards his apparent integration into American society and elects to vindicate his religion in an act of messianic violence against his fellow Americans.” This is utterly ludicrous. Every major Islamic organization in the United States has condemned the attack as being a cowardly and heinous crime against our common humanity. It is one thing to talk about the actions of Major Hasan, it is quite another to argue that any Muslim can one day turn on those closest to him or her.

This is utterly false. I am a proud American and a proud Muslim and would never do anything to hurt those around me. To suggest an entire group of people is capable of violence simply because of the religion they practice is just as backwards as saying that a racial or ethnic group is more likely to commit violent criminal acts.

The greatest tragedy that comes out of the attacks of Fort Hood is not how Muslims will be treated; rather, the tragedy is truly felt by the families of the victims of this massacre. The fathers and mothers left without a child, the children left without a father or mother. They are the ones who will have to live with this tragedy each and every day for the rest of their lives.

Major Hasan faces the death penalty for his crimes, yet once again we are the ones left with the raw end of the deal. Muslims are once again forced into the role of defending themselves and their religion when they have done nothing wrong. May God help us all.

Subhan Tariq is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at stariq@student.umass.edu.

Comments
5 Responses to “Discussing Islam after Fort Hood”
  1. Maya says:

    It has nothing to do with Islam. http://socialistworker.org/2009/11/13/where-the-violence-came-from

    When Sgt. John Russell shot and killed five fellow soldiers at the Camp Liberty combat stress clinic in Baghdad in May, his religion wasn’t used to explain why he went on a shooting spree. Hasan’s shouldn’t be used as an explanation for what happened at Fort Hood.

    We should mourn those who have died and give support to their loved ones, be outraged by the fact that Fort Hood has the highest number of untreated PTSD cases and suicides of any base in the country, and demand that there be a mental health provider for every soldier, and a stop to multiple deployments of the same troops, and celebrate the courage of those at Fort Hood who have and are bravely resisting being deployed to these illegal wars from Fort Hood, like Victor Agosto, and Travis Bishop (who has been punished for resisting deployment out of his belief that “all this goes against what Jesus taught and what all true Christians should believe”, and is now in jail).

    Islamophobia is going to be part of daily reality for all American Muslims. But you take a stand against bigotry, not bend over backwards to let it perpetuate. And you stand with the victims of these wars, the soldiers separated from their families for multiple deployments, those gay and lesbian soldiers in the army who fight for “freedom and democracy” for a country that denies them the right to marry, the right to serve openly, the right to not be fired from your job in more than 30 states in this country just because of your sexuality, etc. And our veterans who come back suffering from the physical and hidden wounds of war, and the millions of Iraqis and Afghanis, and their children who, like some of our veterans, will be scarred forever, because of the criminal policies of the politicians in this country who care for nothing but bailing out bankers and ensuring corporate profits through invading other countries and denying people the right to health care, affordable education and good jobs.

  2. umber says:

    It is alos probable he was going insane due to what he saw as a Psychiatrist:

    “He himself had been affected by the physical and mental injuries he saw while working as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed for nearly eight years, according to his aunt. “Some people can take that, and some can’t,” Noel Hasan said. “He must have snapped. They ignored him. It was not hard to know when he was upset. He was not a fighter, even as a child and young man. But when he became upset, his face turns red. You can read him in his face.”

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/11/05/20091105hasanprofile-CR.html

  3. Ben Rudnick says:

    Subhan,

    Good column. I am not a Muslim, but I have to admit that the first thing I thought when I heard about the man who did the shooting was, “if I were a Muslim I would be really pissed at this guy!” I am glad you decided to present your thoughts so truthfully.

    Maya – It has to do with Islam to the degree that Hasan made it so. It was his choice to present his radicalized views in a presentation at Walter Reed. It was his choice to call out “allahu akbar” as he was pulling the trigger. And it was ultimately his choice to adopt the most radicalized interpretations of the Muslim faith. The most important thing for us to do is to remember, and constantly remind others, that the beliefs Hasan holds represent a tiny minority of Muslims. Whatever you want to opine about other motives for the shooting, it was Hasan who made it about Islam. If we were discussing a rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic, and the shooter had screamed “Praise Jesus” as he was pulling the trigger, I tend to think you would not hesitate to focus on the perpetrator’s Christianity, never mind what other motives he or she might have, and so it strikes me as disingenuous for you to deny the involvement of religion, albeit a warped view of it, in the case of Hasan.

    Ben Rudnick
    Collegian Columnist

  4. Anu says:

    Good article.

    In response to one of the comments above, I am a Muslim but enough with the apologetic excuses. Religion clearly played a role in Hasans vicious attack.

    1) He screamed Allahu Akbar.
    2) His BUSINESS card had the words “soldier/servant of God”..Yeah, this is ‘normal’.
    3) His powerpoint presentation “The Koranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military” detailing Jihad and why Muslims shouldn’t serve in the U.S military.
    4) Internet postings about suicide bombings being ‘noble’
    5) TRYING TO CONTACT AL-QAEDA!!
    6) Perhaps the most important and telling clue, his attire.

    http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Hasan+jihadi+islamist/2205239/story.html

    Excerpt from the article:
    “CNN’s Arab commentator, Octavia Nasr, incorrectly reported that the major was wearing “Muslim garb” commonly worn in Jordan, and that it reflected his devoutness as a Muslim. However, to Pakistanis and Afghans watching the clip around the world, his clothing reflected something far more significant and sinister.

    Maj. Hassan was wearing the “shalwar-kameez,” the traditional attire worn by Pushtoons on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border. Had Maj. Hasan been of Pakistani or Afghan ancestry, it would have meant very little, but for an Arab-American to wear this attire was significant. No Arab male would ever want to be seen wearing this garb. Having said that, there is one particular group of Arabs who did embrace the garb of the Pushtoons. They were the “Afghan Arabs” who went to Afghanistan to wage jihad alongside al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

    So this comparison to Sgt. John Russell or many other shootings that is being done is complete intellectual dishonesty.

    Whether or not Islam condones or condemn such things is not the point. In his warped mind, he found a religious basis for what he did. He was not a crazy guy who just HAPPENED to be Muslim. His justifications for doing what he did WAS because he was a Muslim and it was RELIGIOUSLY MOTIVATED. There is a huge and important distinction to make. The solution isn’t to completely deny any religious mindset thus exempting Islam from any criticism or saying a ‘real muslim’ would never do such things. That kind of apologetic mentality is not going to work. Rather, the solution should be to counter these people and use religious texts to UNDERMINE those barbaric points of view.

    If U.S Muslims aren’t willing to go after the radicals in their community or continue make excuse for them, the media will do it for us. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

  5. Jack says:

    Like it or not, the “jihad” is an inseparable part of Islam. Some Sunni scholars even refer to it as the six pillar of Islam. Hasan’s screaming, ” Alllah Akbar” was his way of validating the action under the “Hood,” if you will, of jihad.
    The whole component of Islamic Law symbolizes that individuals are legally, and spiritually, exempt from the laws of regular society; Hasan clearly justified himself this way.
    Unlike the Christian Crusades, to which an “enlightened” moral anachronism was latter applied, Islam does not look backwards and repent any wrongdoings; rather, scholars try to find new ways of justifying them.
    This is why these backlashes occur with increasing frequency and violence.

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