Is Terrorism Muslim?

Is Terrorism Muslim?

Last time I checked, terrorism had no nationality or religion. It was defined as the senseless slaughter of innocents by perpetrators of violence. No matter what causes these terrorists claim to endorse, the damage they inflicted was not supposed to represent the teachings of the religion they identified with or the country they hailed from.

All that tolerance is only in theory though. When we hear of attacks and blasts by violent groups, we tend to assume everyone who is associated with the belief system these extremists recognize is tainted by their malicious intents..


With the Boston Marathon blasts only a few hours old, rumors of the attacks having been staged by extremist Muslims have thrown the Muslim community across the globe into disarray. As for Muslim Americans, this foreboding feeling is familiar terrain. 9/11 saw them thrown into jail, observed warily in public places, isolated socially in schools and offices on accounts of a Quran in the house, a long beard, a head scarf, a middle-eastern accent. Few Muslim Americans have not been on the receiving end of the suspicion, bordering on hatred that Muslim communities are eyed with.



Yet Islamophobia remains a phenomenon American media and lawmakers rarely talk about. Despite no certain news of the people or events behind the terrible incident in Boston, the social media is already split between two camps- those who sit with fingers crossed, wishing fervently for the people behind the blasts to be anyone but followers of Islam, and those who have already begun pointing fingers at the nearest Muslims they see, asking for their expulsion, punishment, public condemnation.



As a Pakistani Muslim coming to the States for the first time, this was my worst nightmare: being recognized as an enemy just because I was born in a certain place, or I prayed in a different way. Family and friends asked me not to take my national flag along, to leave behind my copy of the Holy Quran. I was terrified to disclose my identity when I first stepped off the plane into the liberal land of USA.


A year later, I feel relatively safer, more welcome in a college community that seems to accept me for who I am. But there is that familiar second look from parents of some American friends, when I say I am Muslim, or that my family is in Pakistan. Often it is nothing but curiosity. I am used to questions like does Pakistan have internet?

How come you know so much English if you’re from a Third World, Muslim country? But there is also the faint mistrust I have come to recognize. Because some crazy men decided to kill innocent people in the name of a religion I identify with. Because I am not the majority. Because I am a different color, my Ls and Rs are not American enough, and often without meaning to words like Inshallah (God Willing) and Mashallah (Thanks be To Allah) escape my lips.


If the man or woman behind the Boston attacks turns out to indeed be a Muslim, how scared should I be? Should I take down the flag in my room, and stop praying in the common rooms at college? Should I start lying about where I am from or what faith I belong to? Should I stop talking about how I am an International Relations major because enabling peace and security for people around me is my first priority in life, because, well no one’s going to believe me? Is it insane that I feel a little guilty, but I have no idea why?

Either way, I must brace myself now for the anti-American Facebook statuses from home; friends who decide that this attack is poetic justice for the drone attacks they believe American society condones, or some other kind of loss they decided is greater than the death of children in another part of the world. Every time something goes wrong in the West, there are always those in the Third World who take this as an opportunity to compare the losses with their own, as if terrorism is a competition, and by losing more lives in their part of the world, they have scored a victory that needs to be publicized.

Perhaps this is when American society will understand that whether the people behind the Boston attacks were Muslim or not, the majority of Muslims across the world do not believe in violence, or terrorism, or killing innocent people. May be this will be the incident that makes global communities realize that every kind of loss of innocent life is to be grieved over; the enemy is the same extremism and disregard for life, whether the latest blast be in Karachi or Damascus or Mali or Boston. Or maybe I’ve been doing too much wishful thinking, and its time I shoved my Quran into a good hiding spot and practiced my American accent again.

Areeba Kamal

A student at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA

  • Iffat Zia

    a job well done and a very good read . I will be looking forward to more of your writings .

  • Vicky

    Al Quran – 2:214

    “Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,”When is the help of Allah ?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near”.

    Still many muslims are living in the USA from all parts of the worldincluding Pakistan and living the normal way and following their faith strongly because they are afraid of Allah only, not americans. And the american people who converted to muslims have learned that who is the real enemy.

    Yes people face hardships and problems but does that mean one should hide his / her faith and start lying because they want to live in USA?

  • Muhammad Taha Khan

    something that i think about daily, but wonder how to put in words. Thank you for summarizing it all so accurately.

  • Hammurabi

    People of the world are not biased.Unfortunately in most of the terrorist acts Muslims were involved,with some exceptions.Minorities from Egypt,Iraq and Pakistan are seeking asylums in other countries.Most of the Muslims are peace loving but others are non tolerant and hostile.

  • Ghulam Mustafa

    i share the same boat as Areeba, as a pakistani living in europe.I have one question though! if terrorism is not muslim/Pakistani then why most of the terrorists acts perpetrated in the last 10 years were plotted in Waziristan???? We pakistani does need to do some soul searching as well.The truth of the matter is that we,most of the Pakistanis, support terrorist activities committed in the name of religion against West. its time pakistan remove herself,once and forall, from those terror entities operating in the northern areas of pakistan or generations of us would have only repentance on the impotency of our current leaders.

  • Farooq Hashmi

    It beggars description that terrorism practices no religion. It’s neither Muslim,nor Christian,nor Jewish,nor Hindu,nor freethinking agnosticism.It’s a deviltry which sneak into every feeble mind. It can safely be said that with the exception of a handful of feeble-minded ruffians,Muslims are peace-loving and tolerant of the adherents to the non-Muslim faiths.The same is true of the Christian majorities in the Western countries.Had they not been so, they would have made a hell of the lives of their Muslim minorities through avenging on them the persecution of their co-religionist Christian minority of Pakistan,by the Muslims.As a repercussion of the Taliban-orchestrated acts of the Christians’ persecution____vandalism of their properties, destruction of their churches and involving them in the cooked-up charges of blasphemy_____there may have been a few desultory anti-Muslim incidents in USA, carried out by an insignificant number of roughnecks but on the whole,the American population is exceedingly tolerant and cosmopolitan.By no standard,they can be stereotyped as intolerant of Muslims. Muslims practice their religion without fear and fright. I am free go to mosque and never am I discriminated against at my work-place for practicing Islam.The Imam Sahib of the mosque I go to is of Syrian origin and he is held in reverence even by the non-Muslims. It may be unpalatable to some but it’s a fact that a few years ago when our mosque was under construction, the management of a church had offered us the spacious building of a nearby church where we had performed our Eid prayer. The yardstick of a nation’s civility is it’s bonhomie and its tolerance of its minorities, and the American nation has stood that test, Whoever hard one may try, in today’s world of the state-of-the-art information technology one cannot succeed in brushing under the carpet the news about the Taliban- perpetrated bomb-blasts,massacre of the Shiite community and the annihilation of the properties of the non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan. Some sorry-asses which form only a fraction of Pakistan’s population ought not to look at the rest of the world with a jaundiced eye.

  • George David

    Terrorism does not have religion, caste, creed, colour. But terrorists are forced into terrorism when they have nothing to live for or everything they love has been taken away, when oportunities are given away which should be theirs. Terrorism is in all forms. We must learn to respect one another in making lives easy, this way lots of future terrorists will be avoided.