Question Islam, but don’t indict

With 13 dead, 30 wounded and a Muslim officer who shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he opened fire on them, we … Continued

With 13 dead, 30 wounded and a Muslim officer who shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he opened fire on them, we must do three things: first, most importantly, we must care for the injured, support their families, and comfort the mourners. Second, we must fight all efforts to use this tragedy to cast aspersions upon an entire tradition and all of its followers. And third, we, and more importantly those followers, must ask tough questions about the relationship between the faith which the shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, followed and the actions which he took.

The human issues really are job one. And the test of that commitment will be in the way which people not only reach out to the families of the victims, but also to the Hasan family as well. They too, by all accounts, are victims. There is no evidence that they supported Maj. Hasan in his terrorist attack, and they are among the most vulnerable to any potential backlash which may occur. While the military and the FBI will certainly continue to investigate all aspects of this case, including Hasan’s family, until we know otherwise, they too deserve our compassion and concern.

We must also resist the temptation to extrapolate from this act and the role which faith seemed to play in it, to the effects of that faith in general. Ironically, those who will use this event to disparage all Muslims or Islam in general, even to the point of violence, will prove themselves no different from those they oppose. In fact, they will prove how much they share with Mr. Hasan. Such generalized hatred is precisely the animating approach of anyone who opens fire on a collection of individuals who pose them no immediate threat.

All this having been said however, when a man commits mass murder and shouts ‘God is great’ as he does so, hard questions must be asked. And the place they must be asked the most, is where they seemed to be asked least i.e. the community from which the murderer came. It’s not enough to say that this was the work of a lone madman, or that this “has nothing to do with Islam”. None of us operates in a vacuum and clearly for Maj. Hasan it did.

Collective guilt is never appropriate, but collective responsibility always is. In fact, it is the hallmark of any ethical community. Today is Friday, the Muslim Sabbath, and in every Mosque across this nation communities will come together. I wonder what sermons will be preached.

Will they simply be calls for understanding, condemnations of the murder without any soul-searching about the culture of the murderer, or will there be Muslim leaders with the courage to mourn publically the fact that once again Americans are burying their dead, people who died hearing ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they did so? I wonder.

I do know that if the rest of us do not play our part by taking care of steps one and two, there is no possibility of Muslims taking care of step three. We all have work ahead of us, today and in the weeks ahead, in order to both heal and help assure that such tragedies never occur in the future. I hope that we settle down, overcome our respective fears, take real responsibility, and do that much needed work. So much for an easy weekend, whether in Fort Hood or across the nation.

Brad Hirschfield
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  • edbyronadams

    “I do know that if the rest of us do not play our part by taking care of steps one and two, there is no possibility of Muslims taking care of step three.”Carrying out a message of tolerance and understanding on our part will not result in “soul searching” on the part of Muslims. It is fundamentally in conflict with the doctrine of the “final prophet”.Sadly, casting stones at the Rabbi’s sentiments is easy. Attempting to provide an acceptable alternative is difficult. I only know that our tolerance of casualties from the victims of Islam is finite.

  • pvalovich

    Most muslims are not terrorists – but most terrorists are muslims.

  • AngloAm

    This isn’t the first time that an American Muslim soldier has shot and killed his fellow servicemen. SGT Asan Akbar threw grenades into occupied tents at Fort Campbell in 2003, killing two servicemen and wounding fourteen more. Of course, the sons of Allah kill each other in droves all in the name of their peaceful and all merciful God. They blow up each others mosques, when they’re not blowing up schools or chopping each others’ heads off (under the Sharia law that some British imams would like to see enacted in the UK – and why stop there – the world over!). Muslims have dressed their children up as suicide bombers and passed out candies and good wishes on 9/11. Muslims invaded Mumbai and killed 150 people in the name of their religion. In the most holy of the lands of the ‘religion of the protectors of the people of the book’ the people are so touchy that the mere presence of a Synagogue or a Church is so offensive it’s illegal. Think I’m being overly critical? When was the last time a Jewish Soldier went on a rampage shouting “Hear O Israel” before gunning down American troops? The last time a Christian-majority nation made it illegal to build mosques? The latest incident of a Buddhist-majority country blowing up the artifacts of other cultures? I mean it – before you say that all religions are equal – answer those questions or admit you can’t.

  • kjohnson3

    “All this having been said however, when a man commits mass murder and shouts ‘God is great’ as he does so, hard questions must be asked. And the place they must be asked the most, is where they seemed to be asked least i.e. the community from which the murderer came.”Rabbi Hirschfield,When you refer to “the community from which the murderer came,” why do you look only at the religious community from which he came? He also came from the military community and the medical community.As a member of the army community since graduation from high school, he was certainly subject to a good deal of military brainwashing — and all during his formative, young adult years when he was most vulnerable to such influences. For more than 20 years, he has been property of the U.S. army, and you don’t think to suggest that the military should be asking some questions of their own?If nothing else, the army was apparently aware of Hasan’s feelings about U.S. aggression in the Middle East; he had been trying to leave the service and clearly was having some psychological issues with his role in the U.S. conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, he was a psychiatrist who, by training, would have some understanding of how inappropriate it had become for him to be treating trauma-stressed soldiers while he, himself, was deeply emotionally disordered.Shouldn’t these red flags have caught someone’s attention? Not only were his increasing psychological problems manifesting blatantly, but his superior officers were planning to send him to a war zone for the first time in his entire military service. What an outrageous scenario.And yet, Rabbi Hirschfield, you suggest that it is the Muslim community that needs to do some soul-searching, to ask some hard questions.The man had demonstrated in every way possible that he was mentally ill and not in condition to continue his work, much less go to the Middle East, and the army did not heed any of the obvious messages. They created the problem and then ignored it.Hasan should have been honorably discharged and offered psychiatric treatment. He should have been removed from any involvement with soldiers suffering trauma. His requests to leave the service should have been taken seriously — not because any soldier should be able to leave whenever he/she feels like it but because he was clearly becoming a danger to himself and others. Instead, he was left to take out his demons on the very branch of the military that wouldn’t pay attention to his screams for help.So, Rabbi, before you adopt the sanctimonious position that Muslims need to examine their religion to see what might be there to impel mass murderers, maybe you should suggest that the army take a look at their community to figure out how a person could become so tormented within its bounds as to turn his gun on the very people he was meant to help.

  • kjohnson3

    “I know ‘profiling’ is anathema to the liberal tastes of the politically correct. But public safety should come first.”Mary_Cunningham,This is exactly the kind of single-minded paranoia that allowed the Bush administration in this country to trample on the civil rights of its citizens. Protecting and defending the public is not justification for suspending civil liberties and invading citizens’ privacy.In much the way that those afraid of airline travel use a single horrific crash to undergird their conviction that flying is hugely risky — despite the fact that for each craft that goes down, millions of trips occur per year without incident — those who wish to condemn Muslims seize on every attack carried out by a Muslim as proof that all Muslims need to be watched or avoided or, if possible, arrested.This is absurd, and I would think that people in the UK have too much sense, by and large, to buy into such nonsense.

  • Richard53

    Such a horrible tragedy, facilitated by the easy availability of handguns in the U.S., and apparently also by some of the teachings of radical Islam.Yes, there need to be sermons in all of the houses of worship, of whatever denomination, making it clear that the higher religions agree on one thing: God wants us to love each other and live in peace.This message needs to go down to the congregations, and it needs to go up to the higher authorities in each sect. While it is true that Islam, Judaism and Christianity are not monolithic structures (by any stretch of the imagination!), it is also true that strongly worded statements by American religious leaders do have an influence on happenings elsewhere in the world.If they are all clamoring for peace (at any cost!), then maybe it will have a chance to succeed. To give a concrete example of “collective responsibility”, it is well within the power of the American rabbis, acting collectively and within their congregations, to pressure the government of Israel to refrain for a period of six months from building settlements on disputed land… as President Obama asked Israel to do, so that he could bring everyone to the negotiating table.Legal handguns, radical Islamist jihad, and the Palestinian situation each gave support, in some measure, to the murderous madness that exploded in yesterday’s tragedy. It’s childish to think that none of those factors is amenable to rational solutions. We need to grow up and behave responsibly, each of us, individually and collectively, locally and globally. Let’s talk and think and act as adults, and remember that we are all God’s children, and all descended from a tiny group of 40,000 individuals that managed to escape from the brink of extinction during the Ice Age, not that terribly long ago.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    Well, Johnson, I’m all for civil liberties, but if you deny the public the safety it expects–say, like Rumsfeld in Iraq–you’ll find the civil liberties jettisoned like the excess baggage they soon become.Profiling in this case would flag a 2nd generation Palestinian immigrant, devout–*very* devout–Muslim, combine it to sentiments of, say, the Indian Muslim doctors who tried to nailbomb London nightclubs, note that this doctor was about to be despatched to Iraq–something he stenuously opposed– and maybe, just maybe, have the man in for a chat. With appropriate military counsel, of course.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    PS Your analogy of the single airplane crash is faulty. If there had been *multiple* crashes of the same type of airplane due to, say, one specific problem we would say there is a pattern, and ground the planes.There have been numerous terrorist incidents since,say, 1998. The Ft Hood murders fit the pattern and are understandable.

  • kjohnson3

    “Profiling in this case would flag a 2nd generation Palestinian immigrant, devout–*very* devout–Muslim, combine it to sentiments of, say, the Indian Muslim doctors who tried to nailbomb London nightclubs, note that this doctor was about to be despatched to Iraq–something he stenuously opposed– and maybe, just maybe, have the man in for a chat.”Mary_Cunningham,You miss the biggest point of all. Profiling wasn’t necessary because this was a mentally ill psychiatrist in the army sending out every signal possible about his impending breakdown.When someone in the mental health field suddenly begins acting or speaking irrationally — especially when they are trained to work with traumatized individuals — it’s a red flag to get him the h*ll away from people and into a therapeutic setting.From all reports, Hasan worked well and effectively for many years at Walter Reed. Discriminating against him on the basis of his being a second-generation American (not second-generation Palestinian immigrant, as you brand him) of Palestinian descent would have accomplished nothing except to create ill will where none was necessary.When, as a psychiatrist, however, he began speaking and acting in a manner wildly different from his usual patterns of behavior, his superiors in the army should have picked up on his mental state and acted to get him some help while suspending his treatment work with others. Instead, they refused to pay attention to his mounting distress and actually decided to deploy him to Iraq.Profiling would not have changed anything in this scenario. A little bit of intelligence, perception, and good sense in his superior officers would have.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    KJ:2nd generation migrant or immigrant is standard in demography. 2nd generation American means nothing, explanation wise.Anyway, *your* explanation lacks coherence. Too full of emotive words,”brand” being one of them. I am going to withdraw, not because your views make any sense–they don’t–but because I am a foreigner. Although living in London I’ve had experience with Islamic terror, something I wonder if you’ve experienced, this is not really my debate.

  • lonniephenderson

    The tragedy at Fort Hood can be seen only as being perpetrated by a person who did not receive the love of God. Then we can resist the devil, by being a blessing and demonstrating that we are not going to allow any works of satan to hinder our love. Healing can only come through forgiveness and love. It is true, that the signs of this misguided officer was apparent, but no one seemed to have cared enough for this person to help. This tragedy was not the work of Islam, just as the killing of people who are labeled Blacks or Negros by so-called professed Christians the work of Christians, but demonic spirits using people as stooges. The true God gives us this message:Now is the time for us Christians to show the world that the true God is love, and we are forbidden from taking revenge.I pray that all the families envolved, including Muslims find their peace in Jesus, and forgive and love one another, in the matchless name of Jesus. amen.Bishop Lonnie P. Henderson

  • Peter22

    While I have a degree of sympathy for the view that Islam is peaceful and that such acts are error and are wrong for Moslems. It would be easier to express such feelings if I saw that (many) Moslems expressed such views and especially if they were brave enough to point out just why murder is wrong.Instead, an impression I have repeatedly received over the last 20 years that very many followers of Islam are particularly prone to violence (and especially vicious and spectacular violence) and that they claim that right based on orders from God.

  • kateg1

    KJohnson, I agree with your comments. I also believe the Army and other armed forces have a shortage of psychiatrists. They also have a lot of (deserved) pressure to constantly evaluate the mental health of their deployed and deployable troops. This may help explain why this man’s recent behavior was overlooked. That doesn’t make it less troubling of course.

  • dougw3

    Time for the Muslim community to stand as one and denounce, unequivocally, their hatred for the extremists, and their bloody path towards purging the world of the “non-believers”. No more sitting on the sidelines and denouncing, after-the-fact, these crimes against humanity. Clean your house, or risk being lumped into the same, shameless, cowardly group. Talk is cheap. Now is the time for action.

  • ZZim

    This event has no deep meaning. An antisocial loner went off the deep end and killed some innocent bystanders. No different from the guy in the Holocaust Museum, except that he was more successful at it.People with certain mental disorders tend to be attracted to ideologies that make them feel grandiose and powerful. So instead of perceiving himself for what he really was – a stupid destructive selfish loser – he imagined himself a heroic shining martyr to a grand cause, cut down in battle while defending his people against their natural enemies.What a loser. Just like the other guy.Special note to dougw3, you are flat-out wrong. The Muslim-American community has performed a key positive role in the war on terror. They have organized, reported, reformed, counseled and fought the good fight against poisonous religious ideology from overseas. You owe America’s Muslim-Americans an apology.

  • adigrecu

    That is the true Islam . he want to be martyr by killing people. ALLAH AKBAR mean for him paradise .God bless America

  • adigrecu

    Most Muslims are not terrorists – but all terrorists are Muslims.they try to kill

  • affirmativeactionpresident

    “Fort Hood massacre no indictment of Islam, “Yes it is.

  • Chops2

    Religious fundamentalism is the problem. Its what the U.S. is fighting against while domestically embracing through the likes of Huckabee, Palin etc. ZZIM:Exactly. And may I add, made more successful by an automatic weapon. In Australia a conservative government banned them after the Port Arthur massacre. we haven’t had one since. No connection between the amount of gun deaths and gun in your society? I dont think so. So “pro life”….

  • blk-opinion

    Hey “ANGLOAM”, If you’re arguing in the comparisons of Islam, christianity, and/or Judaism. All three-of-them “are” just about the same (as it relates too non-religious-like behaviors). I’m not a Muslim, but if I seen someone invade Iraq, and build a gigantic Embassy in the midst of that territory…I’d be concerned too! Or if I was a Palestanian, and I seen Jewish-people continuing to build settlements on a land that’s (at-the-least)still in-the-progress

  • clearthinking1

    “Collective guilt is never appropriate”Excellent point.So, let us read the Koran.Fight and Kill. Allah’s Words.

  • crmla2fromIsrael

    The jihad motif is, for example, central to the Muslim’s emblem, which displays the first two words of a verse of the Koran extolling jihad surrounded by two swords.”Allah is our goal, the prophet our model, the Koran our constitution, the Jihad our path and death for the sake of Allah the loftiest of our wishes.” The Koran enjoins believers to love death more than life. Unfortunately, he argues, Muslims are in thrall to a “love of life.” “The illusion which had humiliated us is no more than the love of worldly life and the hatred of death.” As long as the Muslims do not replace their love of life with the love of death as required byOnly those who become proficient in the “art of death” can prevail. “So, prepare yourself to do a great deed. Be keen on dying and life will be granted to you, so work towards a noble death and you will win complete happiness.

  • ThomasBaum

    adigrecuYou wrote, “Most Muslims are not terrorists – but all terrorists are Muslims.they try to kill”This is not only an oversimplification, it is simply not true, there are many “terrorists” that are not Muslim and there are some in the world that are “terrorists” that would not even fit the “preconceived notion” of terrorism.Anyone trying to force themself, be it their beliefs, ideology, non-beliefs or whatever, down other people’s throats whether covertly or overtly, is a terrorist, it used to be called “bullying”.Bullying can come in many shapes and forms, (physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, etc.) and there are many tools that some use, such as: (power, coersion, laws, weapons, etc.).One of the interesting things that Jesus, God-Incarnate, said was: “He (meaning both male and female) who is without sin (for those with a problem with the word sin, any wrongdoing or exploitation, big or small, of anyone) cast the first stone”.It doesn’t matter if one believes that Jesus is Who He Is or not, or even if one agrees with the above statement that Jesus said, but this statement does point out that we, as a species, tend to rationalize some forms of “terrorism” as acceptable even good as long as the “fallout” from it does not affect us personally.As I have said many times: God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof and It is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • SteveofCaley

    I read some powerful questions here:

  • justillthennow

    Peter22, and all that perceive Islam and Muslims as of fundamentally violent nature,”Instead, an impression I have repeatedly received over the last 20 years that very many followers of Islam are particularly prone to violence (and especially vicious and spectacular violence) and that they claim that right based on orders from God.”It cannot be stressed enough that the images and information that is broadcast regarding Islam, especially in America, are tainted by prejudice by the media. Even if one were to argue that a news outlet was relatively non-biased, it is a fact that sensational news stories get more airtime, and more interest from the viewing public. Ratings are everything.Look at Fox and CNN. Noone would argue strenuously that these are unbiased sources of news. Negative news rules. Do you think that you hear of the millions of good and descent Muslims that do their jobs and love their families and communities and country, America? No. No news there. But One Looney Tune, now there is news. If Joe Looney Tune happens to be named Akmad or Abbas or Asim, all the better.You are fed the propaganda by your news outlets, and then you believe that is the true representation of the world. But it is an illusion.

  • coltakashi93

    Major Hasan was a soldier–but his training as a soldier did not cause him t kill. He was also a Muslim, but apparently he had some distorted ideas about Islam that led him to think that shooting 43 people was an honorable way to avoid service in Afghanistan. He claimed to fear shooting a fellow Muslim–yet when you shoot 43 strangers, how can you be sure you have not done exactly that? His victims were from all over the US. We must face the fact that there is a version of Islam that has become a strong political force internationally, which encourages idiots like Hasan to equate mass murder with obedience to God. He had to be a loser first to be susceptible to it, but we will always have losers among us, so we must deal with the organizations and ideologies that encourage such losers to hurt the rest of us. When Tim McVeigh blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City, we condemned militias. When a young Asian student murdered people at Virginia Tech to get his face on TV, we condemned the new media’s glorification of the violent. When Dylan and Klebold killed fellow students at Columbine High, we condemned violent video games. When will we have the honesty to face up to the fact that radical Jihadism was a major contributing factor to this mass murder, just as it was on 9/11/2001? We can’t tolerate any of the social cancers that encourage mass murder, but Jihadism has metastasized to all nations, even among people who grew up as Americans and were given every advantage by American society, including education as a medical doctor. for those who think that Doctor hasan was traumatized, consider this: !00,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned for 3 years without trial for no crime at all. Yet there is no evidence that after suffering that trauma, those people had any higher rate of violent crime than anyone else. In fact, they became on the whole remarkable citizens, achieving higher education and giving service as doctors and lawyers and scientists. Trauma and injustice do not lead inevitably to mass murder. Vanity and egotism do.

  • MarkinTX

    ccnl1 you listed quite a few deaths from one faith. Now here are some other numbers.2,391,421+ The number of people killed by/for God in the bible. (With References)Now add all the other through history.But how quickly we as a nation pick and choose what a Terrorist act is. The definition of TerrorismSee if you know this one. A man walks into a church and uses a gun to kill a doctor because he believes said person is killing innocents against God’s will. So does Terrorism hang on the body count? There have been comments in the nature of “not all muslims are terrorists.. but all terrorists are muslim” I think the more correct phrase would be. “Not all people of faith are terrorist, but all terrorist are people of faith.”