current events, faith, Islam, religion

On the Boston marathon and my apologies

If you have the internet connection to read this post you surely know about the bombing at the Boston Marathon. It is horrifying, depressing, and once again a stark reminder of the vulnerability of each and every day and the tragedy that can lurk around any hidden corner. I wrote about this in August and the sentiments then were my sentiments after Sandy Hook, and the same sentiments I feel today.

Except one difference.

We don’t know who did it. But we sure do suspect who did as the news story of the people kicked off a plane because passengers didn’t like their look or their language makes pretty clear.

Since fifth grade when a band of students accosted me and demanded an explanation for the Gulf War, I’ve been put on the hot seat and asked to explain why someone who is of the same faith as me did what they did. After the Oklahoma City bombing, my history teacher glared directly at me as he told the class that once we find out which country is responsible for this we will bomb them until weeds can’t grow. [Ofcourse it turned out that the latter was a white dude from Oklahoma and the weeds of foreign countries lived to see another day]. In graduate school a fellow student, after I presented on internment camps, calmly told me that if Muslims were ever sent to interment camps she saw nothing wrong with it even if 99% of them were innocent. I wrote about this seven years ago:

Like the rest of the US I fear another terrorist attack but I also fear the blame I will take for it from my fellow Americans. I fear mass hysteria and mob mentality. I fear internment camps. Punishing me for the acts of others. Acts I DISAGREE WITH. Acts that frighten me too.

People from professors to friends have told me that if Muslims are not speaking out in droves against terrorism than our silence equals complicity. There are over one billion Muslims in the world. Almost four times the size of the United States population. Most Americans don’t feel the actions of a stranger in South Dakota or New York or even our next door neighbor speak for us, but as Muslims we must go out in throngs to disavow the actions of a stranger who happens to be one of 1.6 billion people who call themselves Muslim. David Koresh was Christian. The BTK killer went to Church faithfully. Should I assume Christians love the actions of these men because they did not make a public announcement (“We as Christians do not condone murder. We are peaceful as a faith. These people do not represent us“)? Baraka wrote a fantastic post where she included a quote from Anne Frank’s diary: ” Oh it is very, very sad that for the umpteenth time, what one Christian does is his own responsibility; what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews.’” Such is it now a days for Muslims.

I hate what happened. I hate that there are children orphaned and parents who will never be whole again because of the actions of hate. But I also hate that I can’t feel what I feel without also worrying about the blame that may come my way because I might share the same skin color, or faith of the person who perpetrated the crime.

I am not perfect. I make mistakes every single day. And there are things I can apologize for. If my son disturbed your Target shopping experience because he wouldn’t stop singing twinkle twinkle little star into the toy microphone I foolishly handed him, I’m sorry. If you were stuck behind me while I was driving our new car a smidgen faster than glacial, I’m sorry. If I completely messed up transferring the home-made pizza onto the pizza stone and you didn’t particularly like the result resembling baked islands of Indonesia, I’m sorry about that too.

But I can’t apologize for James Holmes because I too am a college graduate. I can’t apologize for Columbine because I was once a school kid and also picked on for being different. And I can’t apologize if the culprits turn out to be Muslim because I am a Muslim. I can’t apologize for it and I can’t explain it because the truth is I had nothing to do with it and because I don’t know why either.

Nearly every Muslim organization in the US and abroad has come out to express both their condolences and their reiteration that they do not support violence such as this. This is a good thing to do for any institution of faith, to express their sadness over these acts. It is also important for Muslim organizations to disavow because the question of culpability of the entire religion lingers on the minds of some. But these are different from apologies. We don’t know who did it yet. But no matter who did it, the only ones apologizing should be the ones responsible, and that? Is wholeheartedly not me.

“Often times I have hated in self-defense; if I were stronger I would not have used such a weapon.” Khalil Gibran

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24 thoughts on “On the Boston marathon and my apologies”

  1. Oh Aisha. My heart hurts for you and the prejudice you have experienced because people are just plain stupid. Keep your chin up and know not all non-Muslims hate to such extremes.


  2. my condolences for those who are affected in this blast .But i wont say this is worst.In india,recently one building collapsed nearly people dead and many injured.Today morning SUV ran over small girl.Bangalore bomb blast killing many.Rape cases is going high.I condole everybody who suffer .May Allah bless them all


  3. Delurking to say beautifully written and should be sent to every newspaper in the country. Most of us try not to be stupid and I will personally apologize for those of us who are.


  4. Hi Aisha, my name is Adri and I started following your blog a few months back because I'm also Desi (parents are Bengali), am currently in law school, and from reading your writing, could tell that we have many similarities in the ways in which we view the world. I just wanted to say thank you for writing this. I can empathize with everything single thing in this writing. Thank you. ♥


  5. Thank you Susan and Kris.

    Gen C. Thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog. Your words mean a great deal, and I am so so so thankful that though there are people who have ignorance in their hearts, there are so many more wonderful people like you in this world, thanks for taking the time to comment.


  6. Farah, worldwide the catastrophe that happens in the form of wide-spread terrorism style violence is apalling, not to mention the accidents, the earthquakes, etc its all so much it can really overwhelm, but you're right, this is a tragedy, and there are so many others— its a lot to take in. Thanks for the reminder.


  7. Adrienne, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I'm glad this post resonated with you and appreciate your thoughts. Thanks again and welcome to the blog!


  8. Incredibly well said. Too often, people thrive on their fear and anger. We can't think clearly with either of those emotions clouding our judgement. I'm not saying there shouldn't be anger. Many people have the right to be angry right now. However, all that is born from that is assumptions that hurt even more people.


  9. Aisha, do you know tons of us feel condolences when these things happen, first for what occurs to the victims, and also, because of who else it victimizes? Thanks for not being a victim, and for so beautifully relaying the many reasons why many Americans do not relate to the role of past internment camps and even current policies toward Muslim targets. Our cultures are ever intwined in America, and it's one of the best and strongest attributes for the nation. It is sad that in darker times, any can lose site of it or smolder it rather than letting it light the way.

    *little-people violence is still real violence. similarly, tv-violence is still real violence.


  10. You know what I hate?

    That you even felt like you had to write this.

    I feel like as an American, I should apologize, but I guess I can't do that anymore than you can. Sigh.


  11. Crys, welcome to the blog and thanks for your comment, I completely agree, anger is so natural, the sad part is that in need of someone to unleash it on, we sometimes unleash on those who are not deserving of it. Thanks again!


  12. Jessica, thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog- yes, I agree 100% with your words, thank you so much for your support.

    Avas Mommy, welcome to the blog, thank you for getting it, and for your comment, I appreciate it.

    Ohrabe, thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

    MrsTDJ thank you so much, I honestly had expected a lot of pushback, but am so overwhelmed by the support and kindness everyone has shown, thank you for visiting the blog and for taking the time to write such a kind comment.


  13. This is an excellent essay. I have been fortunate to not face discrimination in my life, and I think it's a terrible shame that any innocent person has to deal with this. I hope we can all learn to be better people and not make assumptions based on someones looks or religion. Please keep reminding us!


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