Written by L.M.
In light of the most recent terrorist attack that plagued New York City, I find myself, a 17 year old Muslim American boy, in tears. Knowing that there are eight families who will never see their “Baba”, their “Amo”, or their “Sidi” (daddy, uncle, grandfather – respectively) ever again wrenches my heart. I cry for the people who were forced to witness the atrocity that took over what should have been just another day in their daily routine. I cry for the family that the attacker, unworthy of being considered a man, chose to leave behind with a weight that will hang around their necks and a hole that will remain in their hearts, forever.
I cry. I cry because I realize that I, a 17 year old boy, living in a town 4×4 miles in size share several similarities with this man that you could not begin to believe. The most obvious would be that we are both Muslim. Wait… let me correct myself: I am Muslim. Sayfullo Saipov is part of the very minuscule percent of “Muslims” who claim to be so, and think they are following the teachings of Islam.
The words bellowed from his mouth, “Allahu Akbar,” as he mowed down several people, are two Arabic words that I could not count how many times I have said in my lifetime. Something that is said by every Muslim before bending and kneeling down in prayer.
Where he lived for the months leading up to the attack, South Paterson, has been a second home to me throughout my entire life. The mosque that he allegedly attended, before he was rightfully gunned down by police, was the Omar Mosque.
This one stings the most.
I’m overwhelmed with goosebumps typing that last sentence.
Omar Mosque is a house of worship that is held with high regard in the very densely populated Muslim community that surrounds it. Omar Mosque, is a house of worship that was built on the purest of intentions – delivering to people a place to worship God, a place to come together and celebrate life in the name of Allah.
How do I know this?
How could I be so sure that this mosque was founded on peaceful morals and the desire to praise God?
MY Sidi is one of the founders. My grandfather brought to life, the very mosque that an “Islamic” terrorist – who killed eight people and pledged his allegiance to ISIS – prayed in. Not only did he found this mosque, but his funeral was also held in it. His body was bathed in it. My first prayers were said in it. His last prayers were said in it.
The list of similarities between me and that horrible monster goes on and on.
Have I startled you? Inflicted an uneasiness upon you as you read this, maybe?
I myself am startled. I cannot fathom the idea of even sharing an ounce of similarity with this putrid excuse of a “man”. It’s hard to fathom that the same Sheikh (priest) that I have sat in front of my my entire life might very well have been the last one that Saipov listened to. Surely, the motivation for this attack was not brought upon by the words echoed by this Sheikh, my Sheikh. Nor by the words printed in the countless Qurans across the world.
How do I know this?
I’ve received the words of that Sheikh for 17 years, and I’ve read and studied the stories of the Quran. Never once has a violent thought crossed my mind – never once has a violent thought crossed the minds of 1.8 billion other Muslims. Never once has God spoken violently to us or asked for violence.
Though it should be obvious, it’s necessary still to repeat – the problem is not Islam. All of these similarities between me and every other Muslim and Saipov is proof. We went to the same sermons. We read the same book. The problem is not Islam.
The problem is cowardly “Muslims” who falsely interpret the Quran and pledge allegiance to terrorist organizations. The problem is those who forfeit the actual roots of Islam – roots of peace and love and acceptance – in an effort to conceive a new, fundamentalist religion. A religion of violence, hatred, and discrimination – supported by people who also falsely interpret the Quran.
Allahu Akbar. God is the Greatest.
Two words that hold so much meaning to over a billion people, but that have been watered down and publicly displayed to be interpreted as words of violence. A catchphrase for terror.
God is the Greatest.
Two words that every Muslim endlessly utters throughout their lifetime with kind hearts and good intentions. Words as a sign of submission to a higher power.
If you think I am the only one who shares such a disturbing number of similarities with Saipov, you are unfortunately wrong. There are 1.8 billion more people like me, living amongst you all in peace and in harmony. Who are loving and appreciating life. Who are doing good in this world. Who value life and the lives of others.
The problem is not Islam.