Healing the Wounds of September 11

The Light at the End PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Shahid Athar   

Many Muslims now believe that they are in a dark tunnel and there is no light at the end and no future for them in the USA. This is not true. Americans in general are very caring and compassionate people. They are also educated and very intelligent. They know the difference between true Islam and the religion of the terrorists. Thus, after the September 11th tragedy, while I did get a bomb threat and a couple of hate E-mails like “Now we will nuke Mecca" or “We will use the Quran for toilet paper" or “Go back to the country where you came from", this is not the rule. The forces of evil can never overcome the forces of goodness. For the sake of record, I am enlisting here, the words of support I received through letters, phone calls or E-mail after September 11th, or in appreciation of my writings against terrorism. I have taken the liberty of mentioning the sources of such messages for the sake of record. They offer us a ray of hope. I will not be able to mention all of the letters in detail but for the sake of brevity I will mention a few of the comments.

These are very sad days through which we are passing and I have concern about the threat of hostility and hatred among our people. I have been encouraged by the sanity and wisdom of people urging an end to the cycle of violence to which the world has been subjected over so many years. I note that your voice has been among them. I am writing simply to express my gratitude to you and to hope and pray that you and your family are not victims of any unkindness during this difficult time. May God's peace be with us all.

-----Professor George A. Boyle, September 18th, 2001.

I would like to express my concern for you, your wife and especially your children. Whatever these terrorists call themselves, they are not Muslims. It is also a time for us as Americans to take a hard look at ourselves, our wealth and our alliances to inventory the reasons some people in all parts of the world feel that we don't care about them.

----SueEllen, September 15th, 2001.

I am so sorry to hear of attacks on and threats against Muslims in America. I can only assure that these are ignorant individuals who will apologize later for their actions.

---- David A. Funk, Professor Emeritus of Law, Indiana University.

You and your family have been in our thoughts this week. We are most disheartened by the way the Muslim community in this country has been treated recently. We are especially saddened by the adverse events directed at you and your office. It is essential that all Americans unite in spirit and love. We must learn tolerance and understanding in this time. We must celebrate our similarities as well as our differences. Please note that we have always respected you as a neighbor, a colleague and esteemed member of our community.

---Dr. and Mrs. Jack Moss

I wanted to say that I hope you and the rest of your Muslim community here in Indianapolis have not had to suffer any of the abuse and insults that have been mentioned in the paper or electronic media. I certainly hope that if you have been the victim of any actions, that they were not done in the name of Christianity. Unfortunately, history shows that religion can often be misused and abused as much as drugs and alcohol. Most of the people that I know understand this and realize that the people who carried out the acts do not represent all Muslims and the true tenets of its teaching. We have no sympathy for those in our community who have been taking out their frustrations on others who do not look like themselves. You and all of the members of your faith are in our thoughts and prayers. Please pass our feelings on to the rest of your community.

-----A.J. Weidenkamp, September 24th, 2001.

Thank you for sharing your concerns, caring and especially all of your most wonderful and important activities during this time. I hope that your work will emphasize that you as a Physician and a Muslim who are dedicated to good, are more representative of all good people of your faith everywhere and that Islam and terrorism are not the same.

-----Rhonda Cobin, President of American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, via E-mail. October 1st ,2001

I just wanted to say that I am sickened and upset about the reports of Islamic Americans being attacked verbally or physically. I apologize for the ignorance of the attackers and offer my support to those being hurt by this. The only thing I can do is ensure to spread the proper message that this tragedy in New York City was caused by a small number of people who just happened to share the religion of millions of Muslims. Many Christians have taken part in terrorist activities in Great Britain and you don't see them being persecuted. I am so sorry for this stupidity and I pray for all Muslims around the world to live in peace and without fear of their neighbors. Take care and God bless you.

-----Jennifer Davis, September 13th, 2001, via E-mail.

I want you and yours to know that I harbor no ill will to you and your law abiding citizens. You are good people who honor and respect life. I am not religious, just spiritual. What one people can do in the name of religion is terrible, as you know. I pray that you will be safe and that the future holds only good things.

-----Joel Hovert, September 13th, 2001, via E-mail.

Dear Islamic friend, I am writing you to offer apologies for many American acquaintances who are acting foolishly and shamefully. I live in Orlando, Florida. I drove by 2 mosques today. Both of them made me cry. Both had American flags draped over their fronts and also had banners saying that they were praying for the victims of Tuesday's horror. I feel sad that the Muslims are having to go over and above to prove to their American neighbors that they love this country. I am also distraught that many Muslim families have suffered physically, emotionally and financially this week. All I can say is that I am sorry and you are in my prayers. I hope this letter makes a difference, no matter how small. Please stay strong. It will work out. Please keep in mind that it is a small percentage of ignorant Americans that are causing your faithful people such sorrow. I know you already know this, however I feel the need to let you know that the majority still love and respect you.

-----Tamitha Betti, September 17th, 2001, via E-mail.

I just want to let you know that although you are a Muslim, you are one of the finest people I have ever known. You are faithful to your religion and that is more than a lot of us Christians can say. You would literally give the shirt off of your back to anyone in need of it. I wish you the best of luck during this time of national accusation and attacks on Muslims.

-----Barbara Goodin, September 17th, 2001.

Thank you Dr. Athar for educating us on the meaning of Islam. We appreciate the fact that the Muslims and terrorists are very different and certainly not mutually compatible.

-----John Wertz, President, Broad Ripple Sertoma Club, July 24, 2002.

I have read of the strife you and others of your faith are suffering through ignorance. We wish you to know that our thoughts are with you as they are with the victims of this tragedy. I know you won't let a handful of bigots soil your basic trust in mankind. Whoever these terrorists turn out to be, I know they do not represent Islam any more than David Koresh represented Christianity.

-----Sylvia Sox, September 18th, 2001.

For many years I have admired and appreciated your efforts to promote the understanding in our community of your Islamic faith. Our thoughts are with you and your fellow Muslims in this time.

-----The Healeys

As a man of peace and healing, I am sure you are deeply saddened by the tragic attack on America, as I am. I am also disheartened that you, your family and your fellow Muslims are being attacked by unthinking citizens. Please note that we vigorously condemn such prejudice and incivility. May God guide us all through these painful days and keep us safe in his bliss.

-----Patricia Jeffers, September 13th, 2001.

I was quite saddened to learn of the hate mail that you received after September 11th, 2001. Your courage in bringing the peaceful message of Islam is needed in these difficult times. If there is any role I might play in helping you with your message of peace, let me know.

-----Richard Idler, M.D., Hand Surgeon, January 7th, 2002.

I just thought that with all of the negative E-mails and phone calls you might be receiving, you might like to know that I, myself do not blame you. This was an attack on humanity, not on America alone, which was perpetrated by faceless, nameless cowards who represent the minority of your people, not the majority. Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers.

( name withheld )September 15th, 2001, via E-mail.

Some comments regarding my articles in the Indianapolis Star:

I noted your advice to the Students of Islam article in the Star and wanted to commend you. Your words convey lessons for all people of all religions. Thanks for your wisdom. I only regret that voices such as yours are not the loudest in the world of Islam.

-----Steve Wilkins, April 19th, 2002, via E-mail.

I read your article Advice to the True Student of Islam and was impressed by it. I am a Christian myself, but that article was an inspiration for all of us.

-----Chris Childs, April 19th, 2002, via E-mail.

Your article was a fresh breeze in this morning. The world needs Muslims like you to speak of the truth. I was born in Turkey and the way I got to know Islam and how it is portrayed by such extremists today are two different things. Keep spreading the good word. It might cause good both locally and nationally.

-----Hickmut Kutlu, via E-mail, April 19th, 2002.

Thanks for your excellent article in the morning Star. While you have written it to the Taliban, it is edifying for the rest of us. You have a good message, a very necessary message in today's world. I pray for God's blessing on your mission.

------Professor George Boyle, April 19th, 2002, via E-mail.

Your column this morning is excellent. Thanks very much for the comforting and wise words.

-----Ruth Holiday, Columnist, Indianapolis Star, April 19th, 2002, via E-mail

If there were more people like you on both sides of this conflict, there would be peace. You are a man of wisdom. I have always felt that if the Arabs and Jews could work out their differences, they could become a world power and for the betterment of humanity. I myself fought in Vietnam. What a waste of human life. If there is a God or Allah, he will certainly provide a spot in heaven for you.

----- Lauren Nefouse, April 19th, 2002, via E-mail

Responses to my article about the Iraq war:

I am a follower of Jesus. I found myself in basic agreement with all you said. I just came from a meeting of Christians for peace and justice in the Middle East. They also valued what you had written. One commented “he sounds like a Christian Muslim or a Muslim Christian.

Jerome Hyde March 27,2003 via e-mail

I especially like your comment about God bless the world. I have always been bothered by the constant implication that only America deserves God's blessing. I think that a God bless the world bumper sticker would be great.

----- Ward Wendel Bush, March 27th, 2003, via E-mail.

Your editorial this morning is absolutely superb. I hope it makes people think as it has made me. Thank you.

-----Dr. Sara Archer, via E-mail, March 25th, 2003.

God has truly blessed us today. Your column in the morning Star has restored my faith. You said it all exactly correct. I could not agree any more. We Americans are selfish to sing God Bless America, if we are not going to wish that God bless all the people and keep them safe from harm.

-----J. Etienne, via E-mail, March 25th 2003.

Thank you Dr. Athar for your intelligent pen. May God bless our world in this perilous time of history.

-----David Plantenga, via E-mail, March 25th, 2003.

I read your writing in the Star and am very grateful for your perspective. I grieve for my country and the repercussions that will probably play out in the future. I wish that those of any religious persuasion have the same balanced attitude that you display. I am a Christian by birth and belief but do not think that God is confined to any particular systemic ---------. We humans have made God's ---------too small, too much in our own image. God loves the world. To quote John, “sometimes I wonder why.

-----Elizabeth Prozier, via E-mail, March 25th, 2003.

I read with great interest and appreciation, your column A Muslim Struggles to Choose Sides on the War. Thanks for presenting well thought out and heartfelt opinion regarding the moral and very real issues of the current war. My heart has been broken over the recent actions and I find no personal peace at this time. Many people think that for opposing the war, I am “un-American

, but that is not the case. I am neither Muslim nor Christian but my own religion has its own golden rule. Do what you will and harm no one. Thank you for presenting things that we all should be taking into consideration.

-----Christy Clelend, March 25th, 2003, via E-mail.

You made so many points in such a short piece that I had to make a second pass and then review it again. You displace all the under grinding of the war rationale. We have more weapons of mass destruction. We are the terrible enemy using terror. We are alienating the Arab people. We are dominating our culture at their expense. Human lives are being snuffed out. There are other ways to assist oppressed people. We become whom we hate. God instructed us to love. What I think you can best do from your Muslim perspective is to assist us in understanding the Arab mindset, the proud heritage that needs to be safeguarded. Americans use the world democracy for unilateral “my way

-----Sister Margaret Funk, Beech Grove Monestary, via E-mail, March 25th, 2003.

Thank you for your opinion column in Tuesday's Star. It was informative and well balanced. I wish there were more balanced and informational articles in the press, on TV and radio. My prayers are for a world at peace and recognition that we are all God's children and should be kind to all. Thank you again for your article.

-----Barbara Griffith, via E-mail, March 28th, 2003

As a Christian , I admire my Muslim brother Shahid Athar for his March 25th column. His is a good example of the pondering of a truly open mind and heart. Athar works hard to see all sides .Throughout the column, he calmly looks at at different perspectives. We all can learn from his thoughtful musings. Let us all turn to God and pray for healing to open our minds and heart in order to learn what God wants us to learn. Let us follow Athar's example and with objectivity and calmness.

--- Sussana-Judith Ray , letter to the editor , Indianapolis star , March 30th,2003.