Notes and Comment

September 11, Moving On There are few events that are so monumental that they become ingrained in our memory and remain with us forever. These are events that are so striking that people distinctly remember where they were when they heard about them. In years gone by people have often talked of the start or end of world wars, of assassinations of world leaders, of atomic bombs, of new modes of transport and of man reaching out to the stars. Such memories evoke a whole host of feelings. Where we have progressed and overcome hurdles we are filled with pride, hope, aspiration, excitement and a real sense of purpose. But where we are faced with threats to our individual or collective secu- r i t y, we are shocked, hurt, saddened and mixed feelings of grief, anger and possibly helplessness overcome us. Such historic moments are rare indeed but it is only when one can experience this for oneself does one realise the power of such occasions – they are engraved so deeply into our memory that even decades later the memories and thoughts of such events revive the very same feelings that we experienced as if it only happened yesterday. The horrific events of September 11th 2001 were such a moment. The people who carried out the attacks will be held accountable by God for their actions. It was without any question an act of murder that resulted in just under three thousand deaths. The saddest fact is that many have claimed that this was carried out in the name of God, and in the same way that some people in, say, Northern Ireland use God as their excuse to justify their actions, many have hinted that 4 Review of Religions – September 2002 Notes and Comment this too was a religious act. So it appears that it was not only the planes that were hijacked on September 11th, but religion too was once again hijacked for the sake of propaganda. Islam, it was said was the motive behind such actions. But nothing could be farther from the truth. As a Muslim it is my duty to protect the dignity of religion and to safeguard the teachings of not just Pr o p h e t M u h a m m a d( s a ), but all prophets. As a Muslim it is my duty to speak up and defend the truth of all prophets and their real message of peace. It is an article of my faith to believe in all prophets and so as a Muslim those who follow Moses ( a s ), Jesus( a s ), Krishna( a s ) and in fact any prophet of God I consider as my brothers and it is my duty to give them every support that will allow them to practise their religion freely and in peace. As a Muslim it is my belief that life is sacred and that killing people is against the teachings of Islam, as is suicide. As a Muslim it is my belief that God stands as the final judge and that those who believe in God – be they Muslims or not – and do good deeds will have their share of reward. It is my belief that no religion teaches violence, that no religion teaches hatred, that no religion teaches injustice. It is my belief that there is only One God and all prophets that came brought the same message of love and peace and of belief in God. It is my belief that all humans will be held accountable for their deeds in the Hereafter and that the greatest struggle that we all face – day in and day out – is the struggle to overcome any inclinations that take us away from the path to God. This is the foundation of peace and it is the greatest struggle of all – one that is practised by us all in our lives and this is what is described in the Qur’an – the Holy Book of Islam – as Jihad. When I look back on September 11th, I remember it as a day when many people of different religions died and a 5 Notes and Comment Review of Religions – September 2002 time when many people of different religions were also brought together to help each other and to rebuild their community. But if anything is to be really learned from such times it is this, that there are many places in the world that face horrible situations: where people are killed indiscrim- inately, where starvation and poverty are commonplace and where nobody seems to ever come to their aid. We must remember them also as we remember those who lost their lives in New York. We and the people of New York should engage in Jihad (in other words, the struggle for self-improvement) and resist being overcome by revenge or anger for that too takes man away from God. We must engage in Jihad and strengthen our belief in God developing a greater under- standing of His message. We must engage in Jihad and become better people so that we are deemed fit to be called human beings that share a compassion for people every- where and move forwards with justice and equality. There is no quick solution to world peace but if each one of us fights our inner demons and improves our life then peace will be the natural outcome – it is a great struggle, a great jihad, but one that is worth every inch of it for the sake of peace. This is what Islam teaches us all and it is what we must all strive for unerringly and without fail. For the sake of peace, the world should strive to make September 11th, despite all its h o r r o r, a turning point for peace, not war. Rashid Ahmad Cheedoo, UK Our guest ediitor is a Regional Amir in the UK. He is a retired teacher and resides in Cornwall. 6 Review of Religions – September 2002