Publications & Statements by Imam

11/17/09: Don't jump to conclusions on Fort Hood shootings

Detroit News

November 17, 2009

Faith and Policy: Don't jump to conclusions on Fort Hood shootings


The tragic shootings at the Fort Hood military base allegedly committed by Major Nidal Malik Hasan shook our nation. The killings received a collective condemnation from all patriotic citizens, including all Muslim leaders of America.

Murder is one of the most serious sins in our Abrahamic traditions. The Bible says, "Thou shall not kill," while the Quran says a crime against one is a crime against all. If the killer didn't receive what he deserved from the justice system and if the victims' families refuse to forgive him, the killer will be faced with a painful punishment in hell forever. Prophet Mohammad said the shedding of innocent blood would be the first to be judged in the court of the Resurrection.

During his trial, Nidal may give us some explanations, but nothing can justify the crime. As our hearts go out to the families of the deceased and wounded, we should look at this disaster as a wake-up call to find out what went wrong. The president, Congress, the military, the families of the victims and the nation need to know the motive behind this mess.

Many in the media and politics already jumped to their desired conclusion and used Nidal's religious affiliation for Islamophobia propaganda. Nationwide, an average of 276 people are killed with a gun or treated for a gun injury in the emergency room every day, while more than 18,000 of them die every year, including more than 400 in Detroit last year.

This is not the first time a U.S. soldier has turned his gun on his fellow soldiers. No one seemed to care about the religion of those shooters while all the microscopes focus on the religious background of the killer of Fort Hood.

Although 13 lives are a huge loss, remember that the same base has already lost at least 545 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soldiers sent to war frequently suffer from heavy psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and stress. At least 100 soldiers commit suicide each year. We will continue to see the side effects of these wars begun by a previous administration when the 162,000 troops return home.

What is shocking is that the doctor who was supposed to treat those suffering soldiers, according to NPR, was himself "psychotic." If reports about Hasan performing poorly, behaving strangely and doubting his interest in the job were true, then instead of blaming 1.5 billion Muslims and asking them all to apologize for what Hasan did, it is better to learn from this experience and give the right job to the right people and stop discriminating against the thousands of Muslim men and women in the military.

Many questions remain in the Fort Hood tragedy. Was Hasan a terrorist or terrified? Was he motivated by madness or did he act out of political frustration or a combination? Obviously he couldn't be both a devout Muslim and a frequenter of a local strip joint. Just saying God is great is not enough to make someone a perfect Muslim or Christian.

Some observers focus on Nidal's Palestinian background and relate crimes at Fort Hood to Israeli crimes in the occupied territories. It's hard to determine. Let's pray truth prevails at the trial.

Faith and Policy Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights. E-mail comments to">