Ten Years Later: Reflections on my Post 9-11 Interview with Richard Scheinin in the San Jose Mercury

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on the U.S. ten years ago, I was catapulted into a position of spokesperson for a community. My history of criticizing American foreign policy complicated matters for me, given the almost inquisitional environment that began to arise in the U.S. since then. Some have attempted to present any criticisms Muslims make of U.S. policies overseas as evidence for their sympathies with the terrorists. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While many Muslims are profoundly troubled by the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and other places where Muslims have felt the brunt of brute force, almost all are disgusted to see the devastation unjustly wrought in Islam’s name as a response.

Richard Scheinin’s interview of me in the aftermath of 9-11, which appeared in the San Jose Mercury, still very much reflects my sentiments about the event. I think the entire piece, which covered a page of the Mercury and was quoted extensively throughout the world, still holds up today. I believe it is the view of most Muslims worldwide and reflects well the authoritative Islamic legal opinion. The Prophet Muhammad, God bless and grant him peace, set down rules of engagement. Sven Lindqvist points out that the earliest humane rules related to warfare are to be found in Abu Hanifah’s formulations in the 7th century. Lindqvist writes:

It was Abu Hanifah, a leading legal expert of Persian origin, the founder of a school of law in Baghdad, who first forbade the killing of women, children, the elderly, the sick, monks and other non-combatants. He also condemned rape and the killing of captives.… A legal expert in Baghdad, attempted to make war more humane by setting forth rules that were not accepted in Europe until several centuries later—rules that were still not accepted, in any case not practiced, when colored people were involved.

In fact, it was Abu Hanifah who first codified these rules in a legal system, but all of the rules were taken from injunctions given by the Prophet Muhammad himself, God bless and grant him peace.

Thoughts on the extrajudicial execution of Usama Bin Ladin will be posted soon, in sha Allah. (But I’m extremely busy with several current commitments, so please be patient.)

“Surely God is with the patient.”