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In the Name of Self-Defense

Guest Column
Nida Rizwan Farid

Let me state at the start that I, my friends, and my relatives, completely condemn these attacks. They were brutal, scary, and completely heartless. I can’t imagine the state of mind of the poor passengers who were on those planes. The terror, hopelessness and desperation that must have been in their hearts when they saw their planes aimed head on for the world trade center. Whenever I hear the account of the couple who jumped from the towers holding hands, I break down crying thinking of how defeated they and the many other people who jumped from the towers to certain death must have felt, to jump from a 120 floor building knowing that there was no chance of survival.

I have visited New York City many, many times. My brother used to live there till about a year back. In fact, I was in the city a couple of weeks ago, visiting my uncle, who was in from Sri Lanka. He had rented an apartment half a block away from the twin towers. I was in the towers daily, window-shopping with my cousins and aunts. Over the past 2 1/2 years, I have visited the sky lobby at least 4 times with my friends. I have so many memories associated with those buildings and the surrounding areas. And to see those beautiful buildings crumbling to the earth was heartbreaking. It is hard to accept that the World Trade Center is no more.

I know the popular opinion is that Muslim terrorists were responsible for this attack. While we don’t know yet if that is true or not, it is very important for people to realize that whoever did this was not doing it for Islam. Even if it turns out that those responsible for these attacks were “Muslims,” they were not practicing Islam. Islam is a religion of peace; Muslims are only allowed to fight back in self-defense. And self-defense does not include killing innocents. There were many women (some pregnant), and children in that building. It is mentioned in many places in the Holy Quran, that whoever kills an innocent believer will go straight to hell in the afterlife. And there were many, many believers (Muslims and others) working in those buildings and the surrounding areas. Under no circumstances would an action like this ever be acceptable in Islam.

It is also important that this situation be contained. In the aftermath of the Oklahoma bombing, many Muslims suffered harassment at the hands of other civilians. It was later discovered that Muslims were not responsible for this attack. But the suspicion and bitterness left by this treatment was hard to forget. After the American Embassy bombings in East Africa, not enough time was given to investigation. The next thing we knew, the U.S. had sent planes to bomb factories in Sudan, which turned out to be chemical factories, killing many innocent civilians.

Understandably, the outrage at these acts is strong. Everyone around the world is outraged, as am I and all my Muslim friends and relatives. Do not take this act of cold-blooded killers to be synonymous with Islam, or even most Muslims. My prayers are with all those who suffered losses in these attacks. May God help us through this horrible time of grief and mourning, with patience and forbearing. God bless you all.

Nida Rizwan Farid is a member of the Class of 2001.