A Faithful Word

Living in the Light of God's Love

Hesham A. Hassaballa

Hesham A. Hassaballa
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
July 08
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago doctor and writer. He has written extensively on a freelance basis, being published in newspapers across the country and around the world. His articles have been distributed world wide by Agence Global as well. He has been a Beliefnet columnist since 2001, and has written for the Religion News Service. He is also a guest blogger for The Chicago Tribune. Dr. Hassaballa is author of the essay "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the award-winning book Taking Back Islam (Rodale). He is also co-author of The Beliefnet Guide to Islam (Doubleday). His latest book of poetry about the Prophet Muhammad, Noble Brother, has been published by Faithful Word Press. In 2007, his blog, God, Faith, and a Pen, was nominated for a Brass Crescent Award for a blog that is "the most stimulating, insightful, and philosophical, providing the best rebuttals to extremist ideology and making an impact whenever they post."


MARCH 14, 2012 4:16PM

A Teachable Moment

Rate: 2 Flag


The horrific murders of innocent Afghan villagers by a US soldier this past weekend has prompted the rightful condemnation of officials and leaders, including our own President who said the killings were "outrageous and unacceptble." He also said: "The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens, and our children, who were murdered. We’re heartbroken over the loss of innocent life." Other officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also chimed in saying that this terrible incident is not reflective of America as a whole, or the American military either.

They are absolutely right. Actions such as these - which, if the suspect is convicted, must be punished fully - do not reflect America as a whole. I know that this soldier's actions do not represent me as an American or reflect the truth of my country. And I think many Afghans feel the same way.

Would that more people would feel the same about Islam. Say this very same incident occurred, but with the suspect a Muslim. Immediately, there would be fierce - rightly so - condemnations, but almost in the same breath, there would be guilt by association. All of Islam, and all Muslims, would be blamed for the actions of said Muslim criminal/terrorist. It is not right to taint the entire religion of Islam and its followers with the stains of its criminals, and I think most people would agree.

Yet, tell that to several law enforcement agencies, such as the NYPD, whohave been found to have spied extensively on innocent Muslim communities in NY and NJ. Tell that to the FBI, who have been sending informants into the Muslim community to try to "sniff out" potential terrorists. In some instances, the Muslim community itself called the FBI to report on the FBI's own informant. Tell that to the numerous law enforcement agencies who contract with notorious Islamophobes who spread fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims. To these folks, the few represent the whole, and this is wrong.

Still, in this day and age, calling the President a "Muslim" is treated like a smear. Why? Because there are terrorists who are Muslim? This is wrong, because, again, the few are made to represent the whole.

I wish this incident did not occur, and the fact that it did has caused many people - rightly - to question why we are even over there in Afghanistan. But, nevertheless, as sad as it is, it is a teachable moment: just as America is not the actions of this soldier who killed innocent children, Muslims are not the terrorists and criminals who act in their name. The Taliban doesn't realize this, but they are terrorists, extremists, and criminals. But, we know better. I pray our actions increasingly come to reflect this knowledge

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Its a tragedy all the way around I think it will come out. The soldier was older when he enlisted, 28. Probably thought he was doing the right thing after 9/11/, like Pat Tilman, which also turned out ... not like people like to think about such things, of serving your country.
Of the Muslim world, doubt he knew so much, maybe nothing, didn't give it a second thought, just a sense of duty after 9/11, where of course, in the real world, things are usually more complicated, at least for people in certain pay grades who like to make it that way, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad reasons, sometimes for ugly reasons. I don't know what to make of somethings with the certainties of youth as to things like that, and maybe he didn't either anymore, which is a hard thing to experience. You enlist out of a sense of duty after 9/11. Three tours, maybe a marriage gets shaky, fourth tour.... seems from what they say, marriage comes apart, and so maybe he does too: comes apart. And then, you have grief in Afghanistan of course, and that can't be tolerated as to such a thing, and then also though, to be fair, there is a family here, that thought of their Dad and husband as a hero for enlisting after 9/11, at the age of 28, who it seems is going to not really be a Dad, or a husband, or a hero anymore forever, but at best a prisoner in a stockade, because everyone has limits, and maybe he reached his too.
the whole business of setting up a force to take over after the us leaves has been a farce. everybody with half a brain knows it's been a farce. it's the same kind of mumbo jumbo they used since nam and whoever is president is stuck with it because they don't want to look like the aren't militant enough. but now that bin laden is dead the justification is gone and obama doesn't have to be worried for a least awhile that the war will be taken outside the borders of afghanistan and pakistan. it's basically been a war to divert their attention and put them on the defensive.

next will come the story of this soldier: is he mad or was he intent upon showing further how it is a sham that the us is still there.