Date: Sunday, October 21, 2001 10:00 PM
Subject: a sunday in fall

Eve,

I hope that your fall is going better each day. FYI, I've pasted an essay here at the end. It is by a young woman I've gotten to know in the last month. She prefers to remain anonymous, but I can tell you about her sometime. I thought you might find it interesting.

xoxox

KS [kathy supové]


I am an American Muslim woman and I was significantly injured in the World Trade Center terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. I was struck by falling debris, was unconscious for several days and as of this writing I have still not regained the use of my hearing. I am writing this because I see how certain political and religious experts are attempting to draw lines across the world over the last few weeks, and I believe that I absolutely must assist in making the real message of Islam clear. Feelings against Islam and against Arabs are at a fever pitch in America now, and this has to be corrected with truth. So, for the benefit of anyone who is not well-informed about Islam and who wishes to know, I would like to point out certain sections of our sacred texts to show how very similar our religion is to the other Western religions and in so doing give weight to the testimony in the media of many Muslim clerics who, thanks to said media's tendency to have an interest in 'sound bites', cannot quote chapter and verse but are only allowed to speak in generalities. For the benefit of Western readers I am going to use Westernized terminology, explanatory and translational shortcuts to make this as clear as I can. I have studied the Koran since I could read, but no one will mistake me for a scholar; having said this I will interpret the quoted sections (all translations largely my own) in as accurate a manner possible.

The most well-recognized sacred text in Islam is the Koran, which in English (directly translated from the Arabic phrase "Al-Qu'ran") means "The Reading." This name is derived from the first command ("Read!") of the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad on Mount Hira during the angel's visitation. Here and in later visitations the text of the Koran, the book which very roughly corresponds to the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is not as episodic as the Bible and the Torah, however, and largely consists (for the present argument) of the rules of conduct by which a Muslim must abide. I should mention here, in case there may be confusion, that Muhammad is not worshiped by Muslims. Only God is to be worshiped, and all praise is due God. Hereafter I will no longer use 'God' but the appropriate name 'Allah' as is used in the Koran.

First, although I was badly hurt during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, I have decided to forgive the men whose actions caused my injury. To illustrate why I have decided to do this, I offer my first quote from the Koran (surah, or roughly translated, "chapter," 5, verse 45):

"And We prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers."

This is not altogether different from the famous quote in the Torah's Book of Deuteronomy, with which this surah shares a common ancestor, and that of course is the well-known quote from the Code of Hammurabi, which predates much of the writing of the Torah. It can be noted by that verse that a Muslim is not commanded but asked to forgive his/her enemies. Roughly, in this verse I am asked to forgive if it is possible for me to do so. In my own case I choose to forgive because I see no point in poisoning human society with more hatred. The continuing cycles of retaliation must end somewhere, and I am ending my own cycle here. It will also be noted that the second-to-last sentence ends with "...it shall be expiation for him." I take this to mean not simply that in forgiving my enemy I will please Allah, but in attempting to make the world a better place, I may eventually succeed! It should also be noted that Jesus Christ (also considered a great prophet by the Koran)'s dictum to turn the other cheek when struck is also a part of the Muslim precepts governing proper and righteous behavior.

I have spoken of forgiving the terrorists for injuring me. What I cannot do, though, is forgive their murder of 6000 innocent men, women and children. Let us examine this statement: was what the terrorists did considered murder by the Koran? Absolutely. Surah 2, verse 190, states: "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors."

Did every man, woman and child who was killed in the terrorist attacks take up arms first against Muslims? This cannot be proven, nor can it even be taken seriously. Therefore the terrorists have committed a great sin, and will assuredly not be admitted to Paradise. Equally, surah 5, verse 32 states:

"For that cause We decreed for the children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs, but afterwards, lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth." Again, no one in his right mind can assume that these innocents were all murderers or corrupters of the earth before the terrorists crashed airplanes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, killing them. Only a political operative bending the words of the Prophet Muhammad completely out of true can twist that diseased and unspeakable meaning from these verses or any others in the Koran. Most of us have heard the old adage, "Even the Devil can quote Scripture to fit his own ends." The situation of the terrorists is an excellent example of that.

As I have said, I cannot forgive the terrorists for what they have done here: Allah alone can forgive that, and as is stated in surah 5, verse 39:

"But whoso repenteth after his wrongdoing and amendeth, lo! Allah will relent toward him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

One must repent before one dies, however, which one cannot do if one commits suicide (also forbidden by the Koran). Failure to repent one's sins will incur the wrath of Allah.

A side concern is the open-mindedness of Islam. What does the Koran say about those who do not believe in Islam? Surah 109 reads in its entirety:

"Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship; and ye shall not worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion." So the Koran also takes away from the terrorists their argument that unbelievers must die simply because they happen not to be Muslims. The Islam that they profess, it can be seen, does not exist.

There are many other verses in other surahs in the Koran which support my arguments here, but I have included those which are personal favorites, if I may be so bold as to call them so. Anyone interested in purchasing a Koran can find one at any good bookstore, including in English translation, although I have a personal preference for the translation by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall which is published by the New English Library Limited in London, England. For a further and far more scholarly view of how the recent terrorist attacks on the USA are as much an affront to Islam as they are an affront to the USA, I highly recommend the Al Muhaddith Project's Web site.

I hope that this essay will be of assistance to the curious Westerner who wishes to know the basis of what Islamic precepts state about this horrible recent turns of events. Muslims are certainly not all evil, just as with any ethnic group. I will quote no more surahs to you now, but I will thank the reader for coming this far with me and remember: on this Earth, our similarities far outweigh our differences. To all of you who read this, wa's salaam.

Go in peace.