Terrorism and the Islamic Fire
Eight years after the 911 terrorist attacks in the US, Americans are ever wary of theglobal threat which Islamic extremism poses, as its seed is blown over the Islamic worldand into every Muslim household via news media.That word, terrorism, is spoken or heard by every adult on the planet, even quite likely in places where television and radio are not present.September 11, 2001 was a day of rude awakening for those who knew little more of Islam than the word itself.I was a priest then and this came as such a shock that I was left in a surreal stupor for days. At the time I was also doing business with a few Muslims from a small enclave of Iraqi and Somalian refugees in an old neighborhood that was once Italian and before that,Jewish.Here, there were poor Americans, hard working Mexicans and this entrepreneurial groupof foreign Muslims whose stores and restaurants catered to all cultures and tastes. Not long after the attacks, I spoke with Nabeel Al-Hakim, the Iraqi store owner whosewife was a permanent resident from Chihuahua. The store, named El Guerrero, carriedhalal food products as well as consumables compatible with Americans and Mexicans. Nabeel even had halal pepperoni for the pizza he sold to order.Like other Muslims I spoke with, he was also astounded and deeply saddened at the ineptfatuity of the 911 hijackers who superfluously committed the greatest evil imaginableagainst both God and humanity. I frankly asked him to explain how teachings in theKoran might condone such a thing. He proceeded to explain how the teachings of theProphet Muhammad immutably forbade acts of war against the innocent.I also spoke with an Imam who presided over the prayers at the mosque next door to Nabeel's store. The Imam used an Arabic reference while I was shown an English versionof the Koran and a reference book of Hadiths to follow along. There were versesexplaining protocols of war, standards of behavior under the duress of conflict.For example, enemies or the people of enemies not brandishing weapons or attackingshould never be attacked. Women, children, the elderly, should never be attacked or harmed purposefully. Captured enemies were to be protected, properly housed and fed.Though these rules of engagement were designed for scenarios of the time, there wereother verses shown to me which gleaned the meaning of terrorism much more poignantly.