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The 5 stages of muslim-american emotion over bin Laden’s death

When my wife told me of Osama bin Laden’s death this morning after i stepped out of the shower, news she had picked up from Facebook (all our Californian friends who were actually awake during President Obama’s live speech last night), I was initially unable to believe it. After ten years, suddenly now? Was it really him? Was he really dead? How do we know?

Over the next hour, as I surfed Twitter and Facebook and blogs and Retweeted and Liked with wild abandon, I was ecstatic. DNA tests, a secret raid, a mansion off-the-grid – it all fell together and the triumph of our armed forces and intelligence services in finding Enemy Number One was like a delirium of joy. This one man has caused us so much pain, torn apart our American family, degraded our freedoms, sown suspicion, and of course murdered thousands worldwide – and the bulk of his victims in all these ways were Muslims. What else but sheer joy can we feel?


Ecstasy next gave way to Pride. All my pentup frustration and fear of 9-11, the horrific attack and the impact on my psyche as an American and a patriot – were suddenly released. WE DID IT. As Obama said, there is nothing that America couldn’t do when our minds are set to it, and even the colossal insult of 9-11 could not be without consequences. America again showed that we had power, relevance, and strength. The world again looks at us in awe.

As the sheer rush subsided, I will confess to feeling Calculation. What were the consequences of this? Would it help the President make the case for withdrawal from Afghanistan, or keep us there longer? What would the impact be on our relationship with Pakistan? Would the President finally earn the respect of the 40% of Americans who still believe he is Muslim? (Nevermind the Birthers, the Muslim smear is by far the more insidous). And of course, would this example of President Obama’s leadership suffice to guarantee his re-election?


But now, finally, I feel disquiet. The elation of bin Laden’s death has not served my country or solved the problem of global terrorism. Al Qaeda still roams in Waziristan, the Taliban still remain. Hamas still refuses to recognize Israel. On a smaller scale, we still remove shoes at airports, and suspicion of Muslims remains. The Muslim smear is not refuted, the Patriot Act not repealed, and the Obama administration will continue it’s assertions of executive power as needed, buttressed rather than humbled by this amazing success.

I think we as Americans deserve our moment of joy. But there’s so much work to be done, yet – and so little, really, has changed. Had we achieved this task 5 years ago, the world might well still have been changed by it. But now, the only thing left to do is to get back to work.


American Muslim responsibilities to our selves and our communities remains: we cannot let ourselves be lulled into complacency, not while Anwar al-Awlaki remains in Yemen, preying upon us, seeking to instigate more Fort Hoods and Times Squares.

In the end, there’s a sixth stage: resolve. We go forward from here. bin Laden is dead, but not his legacy.

  • shardul

    “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” [The Noble Quran, 2:156]

    Soon after news of Bin Laden’s death has reached us, Muslims all over the world has reacted in many different ways. Some are rejoicing over his death. Some are hailing Osama bin Laden as Shaikhul Mujahid. Others have opted to remain silent.

    I have personally opted to refrain from joining Muslims who are celebrating death of Osama Bin Laden.

    While many Muslims find it hard to admit, especially those who are residing in the West, I would like to say it clearly that the Deen (religion) of Islam indeed calls for the establishment of a world order where the law of Allah will reign supreme. Being Muslims, who have submitted to the will of Allah, we believe that the laws and morality should be absolute, irrespective of time and culture, and thus we take Allah as the only source of law giver.

    Because of the abandonment of the caliphate, we do not have a theocratic state anymore, which consequently put us in a dilemma about how we should approach towards our goal of re-establishing the Islamic world order. It is an undeniable fact that the theocratic state under the rightly guided caliphs expanded through Jihad. However, the jihads at those times were valid, since Muslims used to do it solely for the sake of Allah, and they would do it too under the commandership of a righteous leader.

    While the Muslims scholars are yet to resolve the issue of whether there can actually be jihad in our time when there is no Islamic state or central Islamic leadership, some Muslims, including Osama bin Laden, themselves deduced a religious edict that sudden terror attack was the way of achieving the goal of establishing Islamic world order, and renouncing the Western political policies that are aggressive towards Palestine and other Muslim countries. However, the Messenger of Allah has strongly warned us against killing innocent civilian people, and thus the approach of unexpected terror attack cannot be valid from an Islamic viewpoint as it requires killing of innocent civilian people.

    Osama bin Laden unfortunately belonged to the wrong group. However, despite all his wrongdoings, I prefer to remain silent about his death, and even ready to pray for him because of the following two reasons:

    Whatever I have written above about Osama’s conviction of establishing of Islamic world order is my speculation only. I never met him in person, never talked with him, and I do not know what was there in his heart. My knowledge about him only came from media. Without having the full and correct knowledge, I do not think it is befitting for me to be negatively judgmental about him. More importantly, he has already met Allah, who is the best and most just of all judges, and He is fully cognizant of everything of Osama’s heart. It is thus better to let the Judge to do His duty.
    Even if it is correct that Osama had indeed done many wrong things, my belief in al-wala wal bara (allowance and disavowal) still prevents me from celebrating his death. Because Bin Laden at the end of day believed in Allah, His Messenger, and the Last Day, and thus he remains our brother in faith. Allah said:
    Our Lord! Forgive us our sins as well as those of our brethren who proceeded us in faith and let not our hearts entertain any unworthy thoughts or feelings against [any of] those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness and Most Merciful (59:10)

    May Allah make things easy for bin Laden in the next world!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mr. Lee

    Look we are all brothers and sister, we all live on the same planet, there is no running away from that! My mother was raised by a Christian family until she was 18 years old. She had her Bat Mitzvah at the age of 63, being that she was born a Jewish woman! She taught me to care and respect all of my fellow humans! There is no “ONE” and only religion that is right for everyone. Allah is your G-D and that is how you feel…GREAT FOR YOU. But, don’t say that it is the only one, and good for all of mankind. That is being pushy, and some people will take that the wrong way. Be respectfull to how your neighbor lives their life it is good for them. They will in turn respect you all the more and the way YOU live.
    I lived in a Muslim country many years ago. I had no problem with anyone I came in contact with….WHY??? Because I treated each one with RESPECT, NOT FEAR! I was kind and understanding, I enjoyed our conversations, I respected their points of view. I may not have thought their view was correct, but, I listened out of respect for them to say what they felt!
    Now, the Taliban, and Hamas want to put their ways of life on all that they come in contact with. This does not win friends! If you come into my house, sit, talk, eat, enjoy my company as I do yours, leave as a good friend…..NOT AN ASSHOLE!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment S. Cain

    I was in middle school on September 2001, and I was the only muslim in the school. I grew up feeling the hate of a people in anger of an attack. I later joined the U. S. Army and lost my leg fighting against bin Laden’s army. I lost many men who I called my brothers on the mountains, and when we heard about bin Laden’s death we all sat down and remembered those we rescued from Al Qaida, and all our brothers who would never come home.

    We know this does not mark the end, but it does mean a step forward, but in what direction?

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Anne Vance

    I am afraid of people -Muslim or Christian -who want to establish a World Order based on and ruled by their own beliefs. That is why our constitution established the idea of the separation of Church and State. Too many wars have been waged and too many people have died because of trying to force religion on everyone.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Willy

    I think the simplest approach is to regard Islam as a religion that requires its adherents to exterminate, enslave, or otherwise suppress all non-adherents. That is, we should regard Islam as a religion that is incompatible with Christianity, Judaism, and any other religion, and, indeed, incompatible with any non-Muslim system of human existence.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Willy

    [Westerners] have forgotten all about Islam. They never come in contact with it. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past…. It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons and grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Yvette

    Shalom, salaam, peace, paz….
    I will start by saying that all the Willy’s and all the Osama’s of the world are our true enemy. As far as religion goes Islam stopped being a foreign religion in the West back in the 900’s perhaps closer to 12 centuries ago. Now if you are simply speaking about Islam in the Americas it was the religion of at least 1/3 of the enslaved African’s that built this country, and Latin America(roughly from the late 1600’s when they came in larger numbers). Let’s not forget to mention that they we’re often brutally beat and striped of their religions and forced into another. Many of the Spanish that came from Europe to flee religious persecution from the cruel Christians under the Visogoth queen ended up in the port(predominantly Muslim)known today as Lima. The Cherokee tell tales in their native tongue of what their progeny believe to have been Muslims as far back as the late 1300’s. It is also silly for a Westerner to speak of Islam as a foreign religion because Islam, Christianity and Judaism (all Abrahamic religions) came from the Middle East. This is not a history debate I am just pointing out well known facts. The key here is to remember that there is only one god, one religion, and many messengers. We also have to remember that this world is full of many that don’t even believe in god, or worship many”gods” however we were all given free will and we can not force others to believe what we believe. We do however have the right to worship or not worship as the case may be. Our religions are not the enemy the enemy is the person that wants to forcefully by any means, through violence, through media, through politics or any other means to hurt others is the one we must be aware of. We are one unit, one race and although all our beliefs are different we must always strive for a united humane society not a chaotic world full of odious people who hate one another and won’t even do something as human as caring enough to understand one another. May we all learn to live as one, as god has put us on this beautiful earth together for a greater purpose than killing, hating, destroying or insulting one another. I am always hopeful that the fate of all mankind will end with a melting pot so mixed that we will learn to coexist because we will realize that we are not that different after. JAK and IA may we all be guided to the straight path! Amin/Amen

    Thank you for lending me your eyes and letting me speak my mind. (:

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