Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Q& A with Kids|
|09/18/01 at 14:24:52|
|Sept. 15 ? While the gravity of the past week's events begins to sink in, shock and fear sometimes turns into anger toward people of the Muslim faith. Around the nation, some Muslims say they are being threatened.|
In a recent poll, 43 percent of Americans said they thought the terrorist attacks would make them "more suspicious" of people who appear to be of Arab descent.
ABCNEWS.com hosted a live chat with New Yorker and Muslim leader Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan, following his appearance on the Peter Jennings Kids' Special. He is the director of Interfaith Affairs at the Islamic Center of Long Island and executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations in New York.
Please read Al-Haaj Ghazi's comments, below. If you would like to share your thoughts, weigh in on our message board.
Moderator at 12:55pm ET
Welcome Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan. Thanks for joining us. Moderator at 12:55pm ET
In a special two-hour broadcast today, ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings talked with kids about their thoughts and fears and called on you and other experts to help explain the current crisis. Tell us your reaction to the broadcast. Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 12:56pm ET
One of the best broadcasts I have participated in. I thank Peter Jennings for hosting it; he is such fair person. I urge ABC to produce a TV program like "Religion on the Line," an ABC radio program, including a Muslim host on equal footing with the three other religious groups that are now represented.
Currently, there is only a rabbi, a minister and a priest ? there is no Muslim.
Moderator at 12:58pm ET
We have hundreds of questions for you from our ABC viewers. Let's begin. Moderator at 1:00pm ET
Habib writes: "Assalam-oli-kum. Mr. Khankan, I am Muslim, a high school student. I would like to know the best way to explain to my classmates about how Islam does not promote terrorism, and that it is a peace loving religion. Sincerely, Habib." Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 1:03pm ET
Just simply you be the ambassador of the Muslims in your surroundings. Invite them to the nearest Islamic center. Encourage them to read Al-Qu'ran, the holy book. In it, they will find out that Islam does not teach terrorism ? Islam, like other religions, does not teach terrorism. Terrorism has no religion, so to associate any religion with acts of violence is wrong.
When Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City federal building, nobody said that these are "Christian teachings." Nor is this Christian terrorism.
When Dr. Baruch Goldstein mowed down Muslims worshipping in the Hebron mosque with his automatic rifle, nobody said this is "Jewish terrorism" ? and correctly so, because Judaism does not teach terrorism, nor does Christianity or Islam teach terrorism.
Moderator at 1:08pm ET
Chris asks: "What happened that these terrorists hate us so much? What do they think that we [the US] did to them." Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 1:10pm ET
I believe that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Look what our government has done overseas to other countries.
For example, the children of Iraq are dying in the thousands because we have blocked their country from receiving any food or medicine because somebody in Washington decided to blockade Iraq for political reasons, because of Saddam Hussein.
Now, the people are the ones who are suffering, but not Saddam Hussein. So these terrorists do not hate the American people, but they might hate what the government has done to their people and their families.
Moderator at 1:12pm ET
Alison asks: "How do you deal with all the hatred that has been directed towards your religion? How do you reassure your people?" Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 1:14pm ET
Unfortunately, there's a great lack of knowledge about Islam in America. It is our duty, as Muslim Americans, to attempt to give correct knowledge to our friends and neighbors about Islam. But first, we have to educate ourselves about the peaceful teachings of Islam.
I take it as a challenge to work harder in educating Americans about Islam. It is unfortunate that some people started behaving in an uncivilized manner by attacking Muslims, harassing them, burning their mosques, beating Muslims who happened to be working in their neighborhood ? in other words, taking the law into their own hands. We should not go back to the days of lynching mobs. It is wrong to blame 7 million American Muslims and 3 million American Arabs for the possible deeds of a few terrorists, whom we strongly condemn.
Moderator at 1:19pm ET
Curtis Smith writes: "The fanatics have often spoken of a 'Jihad'. Can you give a nutshell explanation of what this is? And how the fanatics may have twisted its meaning?" Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 1:20pm ET
Jihad is not a holy war. No such translation is in Al-Qu'ran.
Jihad simply means to struggle, to better oneself, to be the best student in one's classroom, to be the best in one's business activities, to control one's anger and to control one's tongue from speaking against people.
To raise good children is one of the most difficult Jihads for parents. Al-Qu'ran teaches to fight only those who fight you and force you out of your homes and prevent you from performing your religious duties. So fighting back is only for self defense.
God says in Al-Qu'ran, "do not oppress others," for God does not love oppressors. So Muslims are allowed to fight only in self defense, which is the right of all nations, including the United States.
Moderator at 1:28pm ET
Tom Cantrell writes: "I think no religion in the world teaches us hatred. Especially Islam whose meaning is supposed to be 'peace'. Can you explain the meaning of 'big Jihad' and 'small Jihad' mean?" Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 1:29pm ET
The 'small Jihad' is to defend yourself on the battleground against those who invade or attack you. The 'big Jihad' is to struggle in becoming the best in terms of everything good that you do. Moderator at 1:31pm ET
Pam Gibson writes: "I knew very little about Islam before this tragedy so I did some research. It appears very apparent to me that these acts of terrorism are condemned by Islam. It also appears to me that the Taliban are not practicing Islam. The world has obviously equated bin Laden and his ilk with Islam. My question is why are the legitimate nations of Islam not actively condemning these aberrant groups? Is it not to their benefit to educate the rest of us when we are so quick to condemn in ignorance?" Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 1:34pm ET
I cannot judge what bin Laden is thinking in his mind or his heart. As McVeigh does not represent Christianity, some of bin Laden's statements are anti-Islam.
I am sure that if we have full evidence and proof that Osama bin Laden is guilty of these atrocious terrorist acts, he will be brought to justice. America is great because a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law ? not by assumptions and speculations.
When we can prove that bin Laden is guilty, then he should be brought to trial. But to stoop to the lower level of uncivilized behavior and go bomb other countries, we could be accused of behaving like those terrorists.
Remember when we bombed Sudan and destroyed their only pharmaceutical plant? We have to be very careful and wise in our foreign policy.
Moderator at 1:42pm ET
Steve Charles writes: "When the girl Nora asked this morning, 'what have we done to create such anger in others,' her question was not honored. We need to have the courage to ask that question and search for the answer." Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 1:45pm ET
I agree with you. We need to reexamine our foreign policy in the world, especially in the sensitive area of the Palestine question. We know from statistics, for example, we have given the Israeli governments, since 1949, $134 billion and helped them take over the homes of the Palestinian people, and made them refugees.
The U.S.-made F-16s and helicopters that shoot rockets are being used by the Israelis to kill more Palestinians. And so the Palestinians think that we are in cahoots with the Israelis against the Palestinians.
There is discrimination in our foreign policy. In comparison to what we gave Israel, we have given less to all the people of Sub-Saharan Africa, all the people in Latin America and the Caribbean ? combined. Why this economic discrimination?
This also makes people in those countries dislike us. We have to be even-handed when we deal with countries fighting each other and not take the side of one against the other as it is in the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Moderator at 1:50pm ET
Bilal writes: "Don't you think that we Muslims are, to some extent, responsible for the lack of understanding of the principles of Islam in this country? We tend not to open up to our non-Muslim American friends and neighbors. We do not reach out to express and show the goodness of our religion. We have a lot to offer to this society, yet we keep it to ourselves." Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 1:53pm ET
You are 100% correct. We should educate ourselves. We should do more outreach programs. The Islamic Center of Long Island, for example, every week invites school children, college students, medical doctors, police officers, teachers to the Islamic Center to explain to them and answer their questions about Islam.
I urge all mosques to do the same or better. Americans are thirsty to know more about Islam. Muslims should take the message of the mosque outside the walls of the mosque. At the Islamic Center, we answer all invitations for speakers that come to us; we go out to churches, synagogues, social organizations, schools, colleges, to explain the true Islamic way of life.
We do sensitivity training for the police academies of Suffolk County and Nassau County and others. Muslims have a very wealthy heritage that should be explained and shared with all those who want to know.
Do not stay within the four walls of the mosque. Be proactive, take care of your neighbors, be the best ambassador of Islam in America through your own personal behavior.
I urge all Muslim leaders to create programs of dialogue with other religious groups. The Islamic Center of Long Island has initiated dialogues such as American Muslims and Jews in Dialogue, Islamic Roman Catholic Dialogue, Multi-Faith Forum, and others.
Moderator at 2:01pm ET
Samantha Smith, age 12, writes: "I know that not all Muslims are terrorists and that most children in the Middle East don't go to schools that teach hate. I am wondering why, if Pakistan and Afghanistan do not believe in what the terrorists believe in, why do they allow those schools to exist that teach children to hate?" Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 2:03pm ET
The ABC reporter from Pakistan unfortunately said that there are some "madrasa" (meaning, religious schools) that are teaching children to hate. He misrepresents the facts because religious schools teach what is in the holy book, Al-Qu'ran, and nowhere in the holy book are there statements that teach hate. On the contrary, they teach love and respect.
No religion in the world teaches hate. If schools or teachers teach hate, then they are not teaching it from the holy books; they must be teaching their own personal politics.
Moderator at 2:06pm ET
Dallas writes: "Over the longer term, what can the U.S. do to mitigate, in a positive sense, the hatred of the extreme Islamic factions?" Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 2:08pm ET
It is wrong to say there is extremism in Islam; you are either a practicing Muslim or a non-practicing Muslim. ALL terrorists do not represent Islamic beliefs, or Christian beliefs or Jewish beliefs.
We need unbiased foreign policy advisers who are not supported financially by local pressure groups to reexamine our past foreign policies toward the countries of the Middle East, where many violent acts are perpetrated.
These advisers should be specialists in their own areas of expertise, and not politically appointed; they should be independent. This could help in correcting the mistakes of past foreign policies which, I believe, created so much anti-American sentiment among the people of the Middle East.
Moderator at 2:20pm ET
Thank you all for joining us. Ghazi, do you have any final comments for the kids and parents in our audience? Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan at 2:23pm ET
Please do not rush to judgement. Learn the facts from authoritative Muslim sources. Remember, we are all brothers and sisters in humanity. We have one father and one mother, Adam and Eve.
We probably came from different ships to America. But now, we are all in the same boat. So let us learn to respect each other, learn from each other, so that we can row this boat together to shores of safety.
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