Student offers perspective on Sept. 11

One of the two major religious events observed by Muslims worldwide, Eid Al-Fitr is a celebration of the mercy bestowed by God during the Muslim fast in the month of Ramadan. As a part of those events, every Muslim gives a set portion of money which goes directly to the poor.

Due to the shifting nature of the lunar calendar, this year’s Eid Al-Fitr will be celebrated on Sept. 10, the day before the mournful anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

The juxtaposition of these two events begs several questions.

How is it that 19 men who felt determined to harm innocent civilians can share the same religion as those who celebrate bygiving in charity?

How can those who crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers claim to worship the same God as Salman Hamdi, a Muslim who volunteered his skills as an EMT on Sept. 11 and died trying to save American lives?

How can some West Bank Muslims demand the destruction of a Jewish state while other natives (like Fadil Bayarri, who built a Jewish temple for free in Arkansas) dedicate their lives to bridging divides?

This unusual contradiction exists, in fact, in every labeled section of society.

Christianity, a tradition that many millions of kind-hearted individuals adhere to, must also share their name with a Serbian Christian military who murdered 200,000 Bosnian Muslims and raped as many as 50,000 more.

Even atheists fall into this issue. While pioneers in technology and science that duly contribute to society on their own moral grounds, atheists must also struggle to explain the actions of Pol Pot and others who became militant in their desire to eliminate religion from their politics.

Truth be told, the divisions all of these aforementioned conflicts lay not between Muslim and Christian or believer and non-believers. These conflicts, in fact, source from advocates of intolerance and misinformation winning in their struggle against voices of advocacy and pluralism.

In all of these cases, public opinion was won over by demeaning the “other” as less than human, by inciting self-fulfilled prophecies of violence through oppression and aggravation and by altering the discussion through distortions of fact.

These groups of intolerance feed off one another for strength by populism, each growing stronger with the fear they create of one another.

When viewed from this angle, it becomes easy to understand why a church might malign fellow Christians who urge them not to burn Qurans, why the Taliban and al-Qaida do not hesitate to kill fellow Muslims to advance their cause and why many would rather you not learn the facts about the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

The best way to fight these war-profiteers is to learn the facts.

The “Ground Zero Mosque” is no more a mosque than your local airport; both have spaces for Muslims to pray, but neither are designed specifically for worship.

The project is actually a community center which will have an indoor pool, a theater, several recreational gym areas and a 9/11 memorial center. The center is two Manhattan blocks from Ground Zero, which is far enough away to be completely out of view.

The funding comes from The Kingdom Foundation, an organization owned by a major businessman who owns stock in several US businesses, including Newscorp.

And, most importantly, those Muslims using the center are the same Muslims who have been living peacefully in New York for several decades.

Learn the facts, and fear can become a thing of the past.