Healing the Wounds of September 11

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Written by Dr. Shahid Athar   

September 11, 2001 will always be remembered as a turning point in history when a nation and the world were attacked, a religion was hijacked and over 3000 unprovoked civilians died in a matter of a few hours.  On that day, if a powerful earthquake had hit New York and the same number of people had died it would have been indeed a great tragedy, but not as great as what actually happened.  Quran (Koran) says “God can not be questioned for his decisions but man will be questioned for his actions” (         ).

The events of September 11, 2001 caused many wounds not only to the relatives of those who lost their lives, but also to a proud nation and to the people of Islamic faith who were misrepresented by the hijackers, even though they were against terrorism and were hurt by the tragedy including loss of nearly 500 victims of their own faith who lost lives in the twin towers.  Of the ones remaining, many became victims of hate crimes, profiling and deportation.  They also had to come out and explain their faith and tell their American friends and co-workers that their faith did not support acts of terrorism.  I became one of such Muslims who had to reclaim my hijacked religion.  I was invited to explain my faith to church groups, civic organizations, college students and interfaith meetings.  I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and support from those who came to my lectures or read my articles, from those who knew me and those who did not know me personally.

“Healing the Wounds of September 11, 2001”, is a collection of my writings and speeches as well as letters of support I received for the last 20 months.  It highlights my own feelings and transformation within my thought as I, the nation and the world went through this war on terrorism to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I do not know what future lies for me, my family, my people, my nation (USA) and the world.  We have embarked on an uncharted journey and we do not know where it will stop.  We hope and pray for the best for all of us.

As a Physician who has been in practice for 30 years and treated over 20,000 Americans, I know that wounds do heal and with good, tender, loving nursing care, heal with a small scar which sometimes is invisible.  This is my hope from all those who were affected by September 11 one way or another; that our wounds will heal in time but we must dress them nicely after applying the ointment with ingredients of love, forgiveness and respect for each other through the process of spirituality and interfaith.

I thank all those who helped me with their valuable advice and letters of support.  I thank my wife, Shaista and my children who allowed me to take time away from them for traveling and writing.  I thank my dedicated secretary, Mrs. Lisa Williams, for patiently typing my articles and speeches.

It has been said “Evil flourishes when few good people do nothing to oppose it”.  All decent fellow humans, in the USA and worldwide, will never accept terrorism nor racism nor the misunderstanding of others’ faith as a way of life.  We will love others as we love ourselves.

 
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