Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim
Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah
I had to stop and think. Writing about such a polarizing figure can have serious consequences. I’m sure there will be a reaction among some of my Facebook friends and other contacts who read this post. I’ll probably see the number of people on my friends list drop. I might get nasty comments or emails. Is it worth it? Well, I guess so. It’s my blog, after all, and if I can’t write what I want here I’d best just not write at all. So here goes….
Last night, around 10pm, I was up doing not much of anything when CNN announced a special report. President Obama, they informed me, would be making a significant statement from the East Room of the White House in about twenty minutes or so. The commentators intentionally refused to speculate on the nature of the announcement. After five minute or so, they confirmed only that the news was not about Libya or Gadhafi. Delay after delay pushed back the timing of President Obama’s announcement to well after eleven o’clock. Finally, a few minutes before he stepped out, Wolf Blitzer was able to tell us in advance that the president’s statement would inform us that Osama bin Laadin was dead.
Hmph. Interesting. Okay. I sat there watching the TV and keeping open my FB page and Twitter page and the CNN homepage, toggling back and forth and wondering how I should feel. I’m an American. I’m a Muslim. I’m an American Muslim. I’m a Muslim-American. I’m an American who happens to be Muslim. I’m a Muslim who happens to be American. All of me reacted in quite a calm fashion. I did not high-five my ten-month-old baby, who was crawling around the floor. I did not grab an air horn, head for the front yard with it blaring, and yell “Yeah! In your face!” I did not wrap myself up in an American flag or a Palestinian flag or paint a star and crescent on my cheek. I did not do more than mutter “Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajiunn” under my breath. “Indeed, we are from Allah and to Him is the return”. It’s what Muslims are supposed to say when informed of someone’s death. Then I waited for my husband to come back from his class and watched the news unfold.
My husband came through the door after just a few minutes and we started discussing the death. Or, and now here is where it gets tricky, perhaps I should say “death” with air quotes around the word. Because, you know, there are a lot of people out there who don’t believe OBL is dead. Or they believe he is dead, but he died ten years ago and his body was just cryogenically frozen until it was convenient to trot out the body in order to facilitate Obama’s reelection. Or he never was alive and he was only a robotic construct created by the CIA to justify invasion of Muslim lands. And those are some of the more tame stories. We watched the news coverage and talked and watched and drank tea and watched some more. Eventually we drowsed and decided it was time for bed. Osama was dead; we still had to get up in the morning to get the kids ready for school and take my father-in-law to the doctor.
Both of us were hovering on the edge of sleep – you know that time, that time when you are awake enough to actually appreciate the delicious feeling of impending rest? – when I heard my father-in-law call from his room for Sherif. “Sherif! Sherif!”. I heard him call; Sherif was further into his descent into sleep and it was harder on him when I woke him. He rushed downstairs to see what his father needed while I waited anxiously upstairs, hoping it wasn’t a medical crisis. We’ve only had him home from the hospital for about a week. He was much improved the last few days and we had allowed ourselves to relax a bit and start getting used to the new routine.
I heard them talking, and then my husband’s panicked call “Ya Nancy!”. I ran downstairs and saw my husband cradling his father’s head, trying to get him to talk again. Abdallah was in some sort of spasm, with his muscles rigid and his face straining towards the ceiling, he was not able to move or talk and we were afraid he was having yet another stroke. The spasm didn’t pass right away so we called for an ambulance, but thankfully, mercifully, by the time they arrived, he was starting to relax and eventually he settled right down. The EMTs talked to him and us, checked him out, and ultimately we decided that since he was back to his “normal” self, we’d monitor him and then take him to his routine appointment in the morning. Alhamdulillah, the rest of the night passed in peace, and we were eventually able to relax enough to snatch a few hours of sleep before the alarm clock roused us all.
Thoughts of Osama went straight out of my head when my father-in-law had this spasm. The look of helpless shock on my husband’s face was much more immediate than the news story about a death half a world away, even the death of such a significant person. The relief at seeing Baba wave his hand in his usual fashion and flirt with the lady EMT was much greater than the very mild emotion I felt upon hearing the news of the American raid. This was real life for me; this was what was important in my life.
This morning was completely routine. I turned on the news, got the kids ready for school. Sherif walked his dad out to the car to go to the doctor. I handed him his coffee and a sandwich. The little kids clamored for cartoons but I relegated them to the bedroom TV so I could keep CNN on out in the living room. Cereal was poured; diapers were changed. Now it’s about 10 am and I have caught up on my Facebook feed and I honestly don’t know what to think of all that I am reading.
I would say 80% of the comments on the news are from my Muslim brothers and sisters who do not believe OBL is dead. They scoff at the idea of a Navy Seal raid; they poo-poo the news that Osama was shot in the head; they guffaw at the notion that he was buried at sea. If they do accept his death, they hold him as a martyr and deny he had anything to do with 9/11. Or he did, but what the US had done in Iraq is worse. Or he was paid by the CIA. Or he never existed at all and he’s just a figment of our imagination. People I have previously viewed as reasonable human beings are putting forth the most incredible theories as to what happened. I’m amazed and amused and bemused and befuddled. I have made the decision to not get into a back-and-forth about this on Facebook, that this blog post will be my one big comment on it. I imagine I’ll find out who my real friends are and I’ll make a few enemies. Not much I can do about that.
So, all that I’ve written up to this point, those paragraphs up there that you’ve kindly managed to wallow through, are all prologue to this, my opinion on the whole shebang:
I believe that Osama bin Laadin is a person who has committed great crimes against humanity. I do not admire him; I condemn him for taking the beautiful religion of Islam and twisting it into a caricature of the faith I have lived for more than seventeen years. I don’t mourn his death and I don’t condemn the Americans who are dancing in the street over his demise. I hate the ignorance that permeates the Muslim world and I will not waste one moment defending his point of view. I refute the radical idea that Muslims can kill innocent men, women, and children in defiance of the Qur’an and Sunnah. I think that we should look to ourselves, not some outside enemy, to see what is wrong with the Muslims. As the quote attributed to the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, says “Do not look to the speck in your brother’s eye when you have a log in your own”.
Oh my God, some of my Muslim friends would say. How can you believe that Muslims can do heinous things like fly airplanes into buildings? How can you believe Muslims actually did that? How can you think people who say la ilaha il Allah, Muhamamdur Rasool Allah, can do something so bad? Well, unfortunately, I have seen with my own eyes that Muslims can do bad things. I see Muslim men who beat their wives. I see Muslims who always go to the Friday prayer running restaurants that sell liquor and promote belly dancers. I see Muslims who deal drugs. I see Muslims who are heroin addicts. I see, every damn day, Muslims cheating other Muslims in business dealings. I see Muslims running “successful” businesses based on ribaa, usury. I see Muslim men sweet-talking nice ladies in order to get green cards. I see Muslims advocating murdering innocent non-combatants and smiling and laughing at the deaths of “infidels”. I know it is possible for Muslims to commit great evils because I see their petty little everyday evils in my community routinely. So I do not buy into the conspiracy theories that hold Muslims to be innocent of very bad act attributed to them and I believe instead in the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah that warn us that in the runup to the Day of Judgment, we will lose our scholars and our knowledge and we will engage in open immorality and we will be reduced to such a state that one day even the Qur’an will be taken from us. I believe this because I know my religion.
Oh, you faithless woman, you Muslim-basher, you who are in collution with the West! Yeah, yeah, that’s me, right? No, not right. I am a MUSLIM. I believe in Islam, I want Sharia’ah law, I pray for my children to be strong Muslims, I recognize the need for fighting against those who are trying to eliminate us. I condemn the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe George W. Bush was as bad as or worse than Osama, because he lied and led the US into a false war and the deaths of thousands of Americans and millions of Iraqis and Afghanis are on his head. I believe that Islam is the truth and truth will overcome falsehood. I want my family to be Muslim and it pains me that I am the only Muslim in my family. I believe that Imaam Mahdi will come and Jesus, peace be upon him, will return. I am firmly on the side of Islam and it is my faith that requires me to speak out against evil, whether that evil comes from outside Islam or within it. One bit of evil has been removed from the world and I’m not sorry that it is so. Inna lilahi wa inna ilahi rajiuun. I’m not going to wonder if Osama bin Laadin will be in heaven or hell. It’s not for me to say, and I am not sure of my own state, so why on earth would I want to make a pronouncement on the state of someone else’s soul?
So there, I’ve said it. It’s out there. Make of it what you will. I will check my Facebook feed, I’ll comment when my friend Glenda tells me what the weather is like in Oklahoma, I’ll tell Layla how great her crocheted blanket is coming along, I’ll try to find that loobya recipe for another friend. I’ll read the conspiracy theories and refrain from clicking on links. I may get involved in a conversation here and there if it seems to be calm and well reasoned. I’ll ask my husband how his dad’s appointment went, I’ll give the kids their lunch. I’ll see if we can squeeze a few bucks out of the budget to help the victims of the tornadoes in the South. I’ll try to memorize another verse of Surah Yasin. The talking heads on CNN will get along fine without my minute to minute attention. The world will continue turning and good people will continue to help each other and bad people will continue to do what they do. Life, as they say, goes on. Tomorrow I might write something “important” or I might post a picture of my cat. Guess you’ll just have to wait to find out.