Remembering 9/11 & Burning the Qur’an

Remembering 9/11 & Burning the KoranThis year marks the 9th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. I don’t find it necessary to go into details – I don’t think there are many people who don’t know what happened on that fateful September day. 2,977 innocent people died in those attacks. I was seven years old, and over 3,000 miles away when the attacks happened, so I don’t feel adequately qualified to comment just how much it impacted on America as a nation. What I would like to focus on more is the aftermath of the attacks; how the world was changed as the years have gone by.

I think what some people have forgotten, as President Obama stated at the ceremony of the Pentagon, was that it is not Islam as a whole that made the horrific attacks – it was a small number of extremists who misread the teachings and values of their religion.

I have never been an advocate of religion – I don’t think its right that people put their lives in the hands of invisible deities. I do however agree that the teachings of some religions should be used in the course of our lives to make our lives, and the lives of those around us, better.

I, for instance, use different parts of the Buddha’s teachings, the Qur’an and the Bible to live my life by. I do not consider myself a Buddhist, a Muslim or a Catholic. It is not right that a few people’s foolishness and ignorance should tarnish a religion that teaches nothing but peace and forgiveness. I hate to bring something like this up, but a small number of Catholic preachers have been accused over the years of child molestation – does this make all Catholics child molesters? No – the same goes that all Muslims are not terrorists.

Using religion as a reason to harm others is wrong – whichever way you look at it. Organized religion – whichever way you look at it, has always been an instigator of violence and hatred over the years. A certain pastor recently came up with the idea for Burn a Koran Day.

This man is a complete idiot.

Was burning an entire religions holy book going to stop extremists? Was Al-Qaeda going to see this event and see it as a reason to stop what they believe right now is right? No. If he had gone ahead with it, the only thing it would have done would have given Muslims a reason to believe that all of America was as ignorant. It would have bred more hatred and given birth to yet more extremists. I’m really glad his idiocy was halted before it could do any real damage.

Once again, something I don’t feel qualified to comment on is the building of an Islamic centre a few blocks away from Ground Zero. Which I see more as a multicultural centre after reading up more about it – instead of just listening to those who were automatically against it:

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf wrote in The New York Times that the Islamic centre near Ground Zero will have separate prayer spaces for people of many faiths to pray (along with a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio and food court)

“There will be separate prayer spaces for people of many faiths to pray”, according to the Imam, who noted that the centre will also include a multi-faith memorial dedicated to the nearly 2,800 people killed in the 9/11 attacks.”

Isn’t it funny how people have overlooked the fact that the design includes the memorial, a memorial which is being built by Muslims who were also shocked at what the extremists had done, and also had relatives in the WTC?

Reading through the comments of relatives of 9/11 victims when they were asked about the centre, I was shocked at the comments from the people who supported it. One woman’s comment I thought was full of clarity and sense that only somebody who has suffered something dire and life shattering and has a strong sense of forgiveness can say:

“I have absolutely no problem with it, I support it wholeheartedly as a place to continue to build bridges, create understanding,” Ms Bethkey said. “The more we walk in each others’ cultures and each others’ shoes and learn about one another, the less possibility there is for misunderstanding.”

I think if the world would take time to listen to people like this, then it would be a much safer, and happier place to live in.

*This is a guest blog post from a good friend of mine, Charlie Roberts.