I received an email today that began as follows:
In Houston, Texas … Harwin Central Mall …
The very first store that you come to when you walk from the lobby of the building into the shopping area had this sign posted on their door. The shop is run by Muslims.
Feel free to share this with others.
In case you are not able to read the sign below, it says,
“We will be closed on Friday, September 11, to commemorate
the martyrdom of Imam Ali.”
Imam Ali flew one of the planes into the twin towers. Nice, huh? Try telling me we’re not in a Religious war! THIS HAS NOT BEEN AROUND….SO MAKE SURE IT DOES! PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW AND HAVE THEM DO THE SAME! . . .
This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people! Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.
It’s an open question, I suppose, whether the person who set this little item in motion is a flat-out liar or merely irresponsibly careless and ignorant.
Here are the names of the 9-11 hijackers who hit the Twin Towers in New York:
There isn’t a single “Ali” among them.
But perhaps the author of this little post simply confused one hijacked plane with another? Here are the names of those who hijacked the plane that crashed into the Pentagon:
There’s still, plainly, nobody named “Ali.” So here are the names of the hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania:
There wasn’t an “Ali” on any of the hijacked planes.
“Imam Ali” wasn’t one of the 9-11 hijackers, and the owners of that Houston area shop weren’t celebrating an attack on America. “Imam Ali” was the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and the last of the four “Rightly-Guided Caliphs” of the formative period of Islam. He was assassinated in 661 AD. That’s roughly thirteen and a half centuries before the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. (The “A.S.” after his name in the sign on the window stands for the conventional Arabic formula ‘alayhi as-Salaam ["upon him (be) peace"], which is often appended to the names of martyrs and virtually always follows the name of ‘Ali.)
But why did the shopkeeper choose specifically September 11th to celebrate? ‘Ali was killed on the twenty-first day of the Muslim month of Ramadan. The Muslim hijri religious calendar is a lunar one, not a solar one like the Gregorian calendar used in the West and, now, pretty much everywhere else (including the Islamic world). It has twelve months, but is only 354 (or, sometimes 355) days long. This means that it’s out of sync with the Western calendar, and that dates that are fixed in hijri terms move through the Gregorian year. In 2009, when the photo above was actually taken, 21 Ramadan — a somber and solemn anniversary for many Muslims — fell on 11 September. It’s unfortunate that the sign in the shop window didn’t explain any of this, but the originator of the sensationalizing email cited above shouldn’t have leapt to so inflammatory and potentially harmful a conclusion and then sought to reach 400 million people with it.
If you don’t believe me on this, please see the discussion at Snopes, which I read after I had pretty much finished this blog entry.
Should you yourself receive one of these things, please — at a minimum — don’t pass it on. And please consider correcting the person who sent it to you. You could even direct him or her to Snopes, or to my comments here. He or she is also a victim of this false accusation.
It’s indisputable that widespread sectors of the Islamic world today are dangerously dysfunctional. But there is no justification for inflaming fear and hatred of Muslims in general — let alone of some harmless Muslim shopkeepers in Houston — on the basis of a ridiculous, blatant, and easily refuted falsehood. If I lived in the Houston area and if the shop is still there, I would probably go and spend a little money at the Perfume Planet shop in the Harwin Central Mart (as I believe it’s accurately known). This would be at least some small reparation for the damage and stress that, I’m guessing, has been imposed by this wretched internet lie on the people who own and operate the place.