Remembering 9-11.. and what the message to us should be

What does 9/11, Michael Jackson, Lady Diana and Thomas Cup 1992 final have in common? That’s right, you would probably remember exactly where you were when you first heard what had happened during each of the events; same goes for me. I did not hear about the planes hitting the Twin Towers until I reached my 1-month old office (our family did not yet have Astro back in the day), being a fresh graduate at the time (actually not yet since my graduation was in October 2001). I remember sitting down in shock as I devoured the headlines on the office newspaper. And becoming very, very still.

My first thought was my aunt and uncle who live and work in NYC. I had visited them by myself in my final summer holiday as a university student and spent 2 blissful weeks exploring Manhattan and all its attractions. NYC was, and still is, my no.1 favourite city in the whole wide world (sorry other big cities of my life – KL, London and more recently Melbourne). I emailed them and heaved a sigh of relief upon discovering that they were Alhamdulillah alright. My next thought – if I was born a year later (even by 2 months) it may have been me in the Towers – since almost to the day, a year earlier, I was shopping in the WTC basement!

Much has been talked, thought and written about regarding the topic since that fateful day. Just like everyone else, I too am deeply shocked and saddened for the 3,000 lives lost. Yet I cannot help but wonder why nobody dares to discuss the underlying motive behind the attacks. Personally I believe it was related to Palestine, the struggle of Muslims who have not been given justice – as well as millions of people around the world who have died, directly or indirectly, from Western/colonial occupation. Why did they choose the date September 11th? Doesn’t anyone notice they were spelling out 9-1-1, which is a cry for help?

Yes, two wrongs do not make a right. It is wrong and sinful for the terrorists to target civilians, including women and children, especially when the attack was carried out cold-bloodedly during the day without warning, i.e. not during battle or war. But it does not mean that there was nothing occurring in the first place that could have caused the anger, the hatred and the determination to carry out these attacks that were designed to hit at the centre of Western capitalism and imperialism. It means there are people out there who are suffering, losing their homes and dying. And these people deserve to be given their justice too – if only there is voice out there speaking for them.

What I myself gather from the tragedy is this: yes, the world has changed, and terrorism (which should include all sorts – not just the so-called Muslim fundamentalist, but also any other religion or groups that carry out similar attacks on civilians) remains a worrying threat to peace and stability. But we Muslims must believe collectively that suicide attacks and terror activities will not solve the problem; it will only make the situation worse. We must be that voice speaking out into the world, showing that we can be the REAL muslims trying to behave like our dear Prophet – who was kind, gracious towards others (including his enemies), and yet a firm and just leader. Going to school, university and work, mixing with other races and religions, and yet practising the pillars of religious practices peacefully. If 2 billion Muslims can do this, the world can see true Islamic tenets and not those brought by the attackers.

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