by Staff Sgt. Amy Parr
Air Force Print News
10/09/01 - WASHINGTON -- A new word was introduced at the United Nations Summit on Racism in September - "Islamiphobia," meaning the fear of Islam and Muslims.
This new word represents the fear felt by some who link all people of Islamic faith to the terrorists who hijacked planes and crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
The best way for people to overcome those fears is to be informed, said Chaplain (Capt.) Hamza Al-Mubarak, a Muslim chaplain assigned to the 81st Training Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.
"Ignorance and hate have already cost us thousands of lives," he said. "Get the information (about Islam) and pass it on to someone you know." The Quran does not condone acts of terrorism, he said.
"Islam is a religion of mercy and peace, it does not permit or encourage terrorism," Al-Mubarak said.
"Killing the weak, infants, women and the elderly, and destroying property are considered serious crimes in Islam," said H.E. Shaikh Salih bin Muhammad Al-Luheidan, Supreme Judicial Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chairman, in a statement after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Killing innocent people is by itself a grave crime, quite apart from terrorizing and committing crimes against infants and women," he said. "Such acts do no honor to he who commits them, even if he claims to be a Muslim."
While some terrorists claim to be Muslim and believe their acts will pave the way for an Islamic revival and a return to the rule of Islam's glorious law, the majority of Muslims do not feel that way, Al-Mubarak said.
Telling a story told by a Muslim prophet, he said, "Bear in mind what the Prophet Mohommed said. 'Do not be delighted by the action of anyone until you see how he ends up.' So, for example, what is the end of a suicide bomber? A leg here and an arm there. How can we be delighted by such an end?
"What really hammers the final nail in the coffin of this act is that it is suicide, something which is clearly forbidden in Islam," he said. "The messenger of God, Prophet Mohammed said, 'he who kills himself with anything, God will torment him with that in the fire of hell.'
"Some are under the misconception that by killing oneself for an Islamic cause, one commits an act which deserves paradise," Al-Mubarak said. "The taking of one life which Allah has given as a trust to the human is a great sin. Likewise, the taking of other lives, which is so often the case, is also forbidden as human life is indeed precious.
"Thus, all types of extremities such as hostage taking, hijacking and planting bombs in public places are clearly forbidden in Islam," he said.
Al-Mubarak, one of only two Muslim Air Force chaplains, said since the attacks, he has spent countless hours answering questions about Islam and trying to educate people.
"To assume that all Muslims are anti-American is nonsense," he said. "There are millions of Muslims in our country who are ready and willing to fight in the cause of justice and to preserve the American way of life.
"Many Muslim military members have and are serving honorably in the military today in support of our war effort against terrorism," he said.
But still, "Islamiphobia" exists. Al-Mubarak said there are many Muslims in the military who choose to place a code of "no religious preference" in their personnel records. He said they do this in part out of fear of reprisals because of their faith.
"Some individuals in the United States want instant justice and will lash out at anyone who looks or dresses like a Muslim or an Arab," he said. "Some Muslim members have expressed fear of retaliation, not in regards to openly discussing the Islamic faith, but in regards to dress and appearance, such as stereotypical look of a Muslim or resembling someone from the Middle East.
"It is a difficult time," Al-Mubarak said. "I personally felt ashamed that someone claiming to be a Muslim did this in the name of God. This is not Islam nor the nature of a Muslim. We all feel the sorrow and loss from this tragedy. Being Muslim does not diminish the fact that we are human and understand the frailties of life and realize how many lives were lost and ruined because of one's ideology and personal and religious belief. Our deepest sympathy goes out to everyone affected by the Sept. 11 tragedy."