The alleged attack on U.S. forces by Sgt. Asan Akbar, an African-American Muslim, turned public attention to a topic that Muslim Beliefnet members have debated on the message boards for more than a year: Should Muslims serve in the U.S. military?

Below are highlights from the discussion. Some posts are from this board, started by two Muslim doctors now stationed in the Gulf.

Personal Experiences

Torn Between Islam & Service
"I am an American woman and have recently joined the U.S. Navy. I will be in the Delayed Entry Program until May. In all this extra time my interest in Islam has increased. Even though I have still been too shy to visit a Mosque I have begun to feel torn between the two. I have not reverted but this problem is on my mind. I have given thought to putting such beliefs on hold until after my 4 year service but I don't feel that that would be right thing. My position will be in administration, a non-combatant role. Still, I saw the this question about hating those in the military and got worried. The worse thing is to be disapproved of by the Muslim community where ever I'm stationed and hated within the military due to recent events. Being so new to Islam those kind of reactions would likely crush any faith I have. I know I will be unable to wear hijab, so how terrible is it not to wear a head cover? I like and want the benefits of the military package I've agreed to, but I am also God fearing. I'm just not sure what to think or do."

According to the Department of Defense, 4,148 Muslims serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
All in the Family
"I'm an American, and a Muslimah, and a regular US Army Captain, and army aviator (AH-64D pilot)...married to an American Muslim US Army Lieutenant Colonel who is also an aviator. My two brothers are both army officers and is over here chasing Al Qaeda around Afghanistan, and the other was here until last week. My older sister is an air force officer and F-16 pilot and she's flown bombing missions over here, and also over Kuwait. Dad is a retired Brigadier General. We're all Muslims...all Americans....all proud of our country, our religion, and our service in the US Armed Forces. There are thousands like way! That's why the US military has Muslim chaplains...same as Christian and Jewish and at least two Hindu chaplains I know of. We're Americans...we serve our country...we believe in freedom of religion...and we're going after, and getting, terrorists who profane ANY and all faiths, not just Islam."

There are 10 Muslim military chaplains. The first joined the military in 1996.

A Double Whammy
"I've been a practicing Muslim for nearly 3 years & I actually accepted Islam in the U.S. military. I have grown to feel it isn't right. I don't know if I can use the word haram, but I've found it quite difficult to accept some things in the military. I even thought about getting out, but a Muslim chaplain reminded me of my duty as a Muslim to keep my word & honor the contract I signed. I wouldn't tell another Muslim to not join, but I would inform that Brother or Sister to be extremely careful with that decision. This isn't easy for a Muslim. In many ways, America seems to have an innate hatred for Islam. I was somewhat naive to this fact at the time of my joining the military. I feel as though, I have a double whammy on me being in the military. I'm Black & Muslim."

The Islamic Thing to Do
"In 1991, when I was a very new doctor, I served in the Gulf War. I treated a few dozen American and allied soldiers.

I treated hundreds of Kuwaiti civilians who had been brutalized by the Iraqis. I treated many hundred captured Iraqi soldiers. If we are sent over there I have no doubt that once again, my medical brigade will spend the great majority of our time helping Iraqi civilians, and thousands of surrendered Iraqi soldiers. This is of course the Islamic thing to do. It's also an American thing."