Daisy Khan: “…they hijacked our religion.”

a flower was put beside a name of the beloved one, in 9/11 memorial

There used to be the twin towers, now they have two big square pools. Each pool has two levels, the second level leads to a hole that we can’t see the end of it. The stream goes down to that hole, artistic, but hurting. Along the wall of the pool there were written around 3000 names of the people who were perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, their souls seemed like being taken away with the stream, and now rest, somewhere else. I tried to figure what are they looked like? These people who died? Their names are varied- typical American names, Hispanic names, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, even Arabic. There were two names that are followed by “with her unborn child”. I had no relations with any of them, but I felt devastated. These names had nothing to do with anything, not with the terrorist’s ideological, not with any political interests. They just traveled with the airplane, probably to visit their family, holiday, business, medication, school. The people in the twin towers were working, just like any other days. And there were around 400 people who died when they were trying to help others right after the attack, these police officers or fire fighters were probably running upstairs to get some people, but they didn’t make it. How are the families coping with their loss? And who are these people who killed 3000 souls from various background, ethnicities and religions?

Daisy Khan, the founder of Islamic women movement said, “They not only killed the people, attacked our country, but they also hijacked our religion.” It has to be said that many people were in fact unfamiliar with Islam before the 9/11. They were probably only knew that some Moslem women wear hijab and they go to the mosques for praying. Suddenly, they were further exposed by the ugly event, and found out that the hijackers were Moslems, it shaped their views that Moslems do such things. And, like Pak Llyod said, there were no one who came up to the public and explained what was going on, and that Islam does not teach whatever these terrorist did. This, of course due to the fact that Islam has no single religious leader who can speak behalf of the religion, as the Pope speaks behalf of the Catholic. As a consequence, people were trapped within the belief of violence Islam. The tragedy also affected the large number of Moslem around the world. The war on terrorism was declared, people in Iraq and Afghanistan were suffered for a long time as a result. Moslem-American, even Arab-American who are not necessary Moslem, faced two times bigger challenges. They now have to be ready with the bigotry, some of their buildings were vandalized, and even until now, if your names sounded too Arabic, airport officials will keep you for hours in the room, asked you questions about your job and your religious attachment before letting you go to catch up with your flight.

One thing that most of the people does not realize is the fact that terrorist is the common enemy of everyone. It is not only the enemy of American, but also Moslem-American, and Moslem. Daisy Khan believes that the law enforcement should’ve involved the Moslem community as well, instead of making them as the searched object. Which makes sense. I remember learning in American Foreign Policy class and my professor, Mas Nur Rachmat Yuliantoro mentioned that the war on terrorism was actually one of the causes on the increasing number of radical groups or individuals, which is very ironic. But I know through Pak Najib Azca, our sociology professor, that deradicalization does possible. One of the ways of doing it is by talking to the radical group about the real Islam, for example about the interpretation of jihad. And that, can only be done by another Moslems, through ideological approach, not the coercive one.

Aside from this terrorism issue, Dasiy is doing the same thing for the sake of gender equality. She created a women network that involves women from all over the world from America, Middle East to Southeast Asia. The aim of this network is to create the same rights for women, and to socialize this idea to everyone. The approach they are using is theological too. Within the network they have the shura council to go through verses in Al-Qur’an and Al-Hadits, and interpret them on how it functions to the rights of women. For example, they look up to the Qur’an whether or not female genital mutilation is required, whether or not domestic violence is allowed, and other rights that attached into women. And by far, they successfully found interpretations which against the discrimination against women.

The pressure and prejudice against Islam, and misinterpretations on its values are just temporary phase, Daisy Khan believes. Judaism, for instance, had been through the same phase. They survived it and stays as one of the world’s greatest religions.  Moslems too will get through this. We have a woman like Daisy Khan, and many others who are inspired by her.

Amtrak to Washington DC, June 30 2012

For more information about Daisy Khan’s project, you may visit http://www.wisemuslimwomen.org 🙂

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