President Obama addressing about Boston Marathon

President Obama addressing about Boston Marathon

In his first comments about the horrific bombing in Boston, President Obama stated that it was a “heinous and cowardly act”, and offered prayers and condolences from himself and Michelle to people of Boston.

Speaking in his familiar function as the nations’s Pastor-in-Chief, the President beautifully articulated how this nation’s hearts turn toward Boston, and we all share our prayers and condolences with the victims, their families, friends and loved ones.

Obama then went on to say something so powerful and poignant, that I wonder how it has escaped political and religious analysis so far.  The President added:

Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.

Mr. President, I wonder if you realize how right you are.

http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/the-upbeat/bostoncops.jpg

Boston Marathon cop hero: http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/the-upbeat/bostoncops.jpg

Like all other Americans, we have been grieving the human suffering in Boston.    Like all other Americans, we too have been sending our prayers and condolences.   We too have been remembering Martin Richard, and Krystle Campbell and Lu Lingzi and marveling at the tales of heroism that have emerged from Boston.

And yet unlike all Americans, we as Muslims have the sad déjà vu experience of having seen this horrific story before.    Those of us who keep one eye in our home here in America and one eye on the rest of the planet know that these explosions—and worse—happen far too frequently in Syria, Pakistan, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Here is the hard part: how do we urge our fellow Americans to expand the circle of their concern, and see our suffering HERE as being connected to the suffering THERE without trivializing the suffering of our Boston community?

How do we make a point about our shared humanity without belittling the humanity of our neighbors here?

My hope and prayer is that the cry of my own heart is not read as an attempt to engage in a calculus of suffering (“my people have suffered more than your people”, etc.)  but rather a passionate plea to realize that we are all children of the same God, that each of our lives all over this small planet is sacred and sacrosanct.

How do we make the point that the lives here are sacred, dear and precious, and so are the lives over there?

And Mr. President, how do we tell you as clearly and passionately that you are right, but you do not realize how right you are?

Mr. President, it was our own American government that in 2002 dropped bombs on a wedding party in Uruzgan (Afghanistan), and killed thirty people and wounded ninety more.     The residents in that city in Afghanistan said:  “”There are no Taliban or al Qaeda or Arabs here. These people were all civilians, women and children.”

Mr. President, you said “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”  Any time, you said, Mr. President.
So were we involved in an act of terror then, Mr. President?

No need to go back to 2002.    Let’s take this past weekend, the one whose conclusion saw the horrific explosions in Boston, with 3 dead and 176 wounded.   Mr. President, our own government led an air-strike on a home in Afghanistan that was caught up in a battle between the Taliban and the U.S.-supported Afghan government.   President Obama, we dropped a bomb on this house, and we killed children.     Mr. President, you speak so eloquently and passionately when it is our children in Chicago, Newtown and now Boston.    President Obama, do you have any words of condolence to offer these Afghan families whose children died because we dropped bombs on them?

 

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AP Photo/Naimatullah Karyab: Afghan children killed in US bombing

The lifeless bodies of Afghan children lay on the ground before their funeral ceremony, after a NATO airstrike killed several Afghan civilians, including ten children during a fierce gun battle with Taliban militants in Shultan, Shigal district, Kunar, eastern Afghanistan, Sunday, April 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Naimatullah Karyab)”

Mr. President, you said: “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”
We dropped these bombs on innocent children.
Is this an act of terror, Mr. President?

Or is it an act of terror only when it’s done to us and our allies?

President Obama, I know you to be a committed Christian, and I can imagine that some will respond to the above by callously stating that such things happen in war.     Remind them, Mr. President, of Dr. King’s bold words about why he, as a Christian, had to be just as concerned about American lives as he was about Vietnamese lives:

Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men — for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them?

Are you, and we, willing to follow the footsteps of Dr. King, and see this message of good will, love, and concern as one that goes beyond our nation’s borders and interests and encompassing the whole of humanity?

Mr. President, I write not as one of your haters, but as a patriotic American who loves this country but does not love what we have become, loves our ideals as a Republic but does not love the empire that we have turned into.  I write as a human being, an American, a father, a son, a teacher, a Muslim, a friend, a citizen, as one who wept for Newtown and weeps again for Boston—and weeps for Syria, for Iraq, for Palestine, for Afghanistan, for Israel, for Iran, and for Yemen.

I write to remind you that actions are to be judged on their own merits, and not based on wealth, race, or nationality of the actions’ perpetrators or victims.

Afghan families gathered around bodies of children killed in US bombing

Afghan families gathered around bodies of children killed in US bombing

You were actually right, Mr. President: “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”
I wonder how right you are, and whether you realize what that says about our own country when we are the ones dropping bombs or using drones.

Mr. President, you know that in our faith traditions there is a rich legacy of reading out the names of victims and the deceased, and pausing to pray for them.    Out of respect for that tradition, here is a brief list, Mr. President.

The first three are our names, names of people who died in the horrific actions in Boston.
The rest of the names are our names too, the names of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan who have died in our drone attacks.

May we grow to the point of extending the same love, care and grief that we show towards our victims — to all God’s children.

 

USA
Name | Age | Gender

Martin Richard | 8 | male

Krystle Campbell | 29 | female

Lu Lingzi | 23 | female

 

PAKISTAN

Name | Age | Gender

Noor Aziz | 8 | male

Abdul Wasit | 17 | male

Noor Syed | 8 | male

Wajid Noor | 9 | male

Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male

Ayeesha | 3 | female

Qari Alamzeb | 14| male

Shoaib | 8 | male

Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male

Tariq Aziz | 16 | male

Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male

Maezol Khan | 8 | female

Nasir Khan | male

Naeem Khan | male

Naeemullah | male

Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male

Azizul Wahab | 15 | male

Fazal Wahab | 16 | male

Ziauddin | 16 | male

Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male

Fazal Hakim | 19 | male

Ilyas | 13 | male

Sohail | 7 | male

Asadullah | 9 | male

khalilullah | 9 | male

Noor Mohammad | 8 | male

Khalid | 12 | male

Saifullah | 9 | male

Mashooq Jan | 15 | male

Nawab | 17 | male

Sultanat Khan | 16 | male

Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male

Noor Mohammad | 15 | male

Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male

Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male

Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male

Abdullah | 18 | male

Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male

Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male

Shahbuddin | 15 | male

Yahya Khan | 16 |male

Rahatullah |17 | male

Mohammad Salim | 11 | male

Shahjehan | 15 | male

Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male

Bakht Muneer | 14 | male

Numair | 14 | male

Mashooq Khan | 16 | male

Ihsanullah | 16 | male

Luqman | 12 | male

Jannatullah | 13 | male

Ismail | 12 | male

Taseel Khan | 18 | male

Zaheeruddin | 16 | male

Qari Ishaq | 19 | male

Jamshed Khan | 14 | male

Alam Nabi | 11 | male

Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male

Rahmatullah | 14 | male

Abdus Samad | 17 | male

Siraj | 16 | male

Saeedullah | 17 | male

Abdul Waris | 16 | male

Darvesh | 13 | male

Ameer Said | 15 | male

Shaukat | 14 | male

Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male

Salman | 12 | male

Fazal Wahab | 18 | male

Baacha Rahman | 13 | male

Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male

Iftikhar | 17 | male

Inayatullah | 15 | male

Mashooq Khan | 16 | male

Ihsanullah | 16 | male

Luqman | 12 | male

Jannatullah | 13 | male

Ismail | 12 | male

Abdul Waris | 16 | male

Darvesh | 13 | male

Ameer Said | 15 | male

Shaukat | 14 | male

Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male

Adnan | 16 | male

Najibullah | 13 | male

Naeemullah | 17 | male

Hizbullah | 10 | male

Kitab Gul | 12 | male

Wilayat Khan | 11 | male

Zabihullah | 16 | male

Shehzad Gul | 11 | male

Shabir | 15 | male

Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male

Shafiullah | 16 | male

Nimatullah | 14 | male

Shakirullah | 16 | male

Talha | 8 | male

YEMEN

Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female

Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female

Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female

Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female

Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male

Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male

Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female

Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female

Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female

Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female

Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male

Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female

Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female

Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female

Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female

Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male

Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female

Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female

Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male

Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male

Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female

AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male

Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male

Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male

Nasser Salim | 19

 

Compiled from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports
 [The Bureau has received the Amnesty International Digital Awards the last two years running.  List is generated by Jungwon Kim.]

May all of these souls be blessed, may they be received into God’s mercy, and may honor of their lives by repenting from the violence that led to their death.

 

 

Afghanistan casualty image is from here.

Boston Cop hero image is from here.

 

 

28 Comments

  1. First let me say that I agree with you, on so many things you’ve written above. As we in the USA look towards Boston we should not forget the turmoil that occurs overseas every day. I agree that US bombs and drone strikes are just as terrible and life changing to those they effect as the bombs in Boston are to us. However that being said, I hope, with all my heart, that the US is not “targeting” civilians, especially children. The keyword in his phrasing is “targeting.” The bombs set off in Boston were set to kill or injure no one but innocent civilians. The bombs the USA sends overseas, hopefully, are not meant for civilians, but for the terrorists that plan attacks against the United States. Hopefully the world can just learn to get along, and the evil people who plan and execute these attacks will be brought to justice, before more innocent lives are lost, in Boston, Yemen, Pakistan, or anywhere in the world.

    • ” the US is not “targeting” civilians, especially children. The keyword in his phrasing is “targeting.” The bombs set off in Boston were set to kill or injure no one but innocent civilians.”

      • Anna,
        That bomb was not meant for civilians it just exploded thinking all Americans are in army. Bombs don’t have brains regardless what they were targeted at. I am not happy with the innocent killed anywhere but just I lost sympathy for Yanks.

    • Just because USA is not “targeting” the kids, women and elderly in these countries, does it make the act of bombing ok? Or a lesser tragedy? Or perhaps it is ok to have the “casualties of war” as long as “we” are safe? No!! My brother in humanity. It is not a good enough excuse. No amount of excuse or explanation could make it “ok”.

  2. Powerful piece and speaking for myself, it is not that I am comparing tragedies or keeping score on a table of suffering. It is when Bostons happen, I keep thinking of a dear friend of mine. Who mentioned in passing and not explicitly because he wanted to forget, seeing the aftermath of drone attacks. And I keep thinking, with all the saturation media on this terrible event, how he and others feel… their daily occurance passes by without fanfare.
    Bless you Dr Safi for posting the names; our little souls to be mourned and to be honoured.

  3. President Obama,
    We gave you hospitality when you were a student and our mothers enabled you to cook Keema and Daal! What a shame your drones are killing our children. you have lost the war in Afghanistan. You should admit it. Instead, you have transformed millions of innocent, lovable Americans into Pauper. Have you read writings of General Giap? Do you know Stalin? No, it seems you don’t know how war is fought.

  4. There is a huge difference – the cause of the deaths in the ME is as a result of taliban etc using civilians as shields – thereby point your fingers at the cowardice of your own people – they are the ones that hide out like vermin amoungst the civilians seeking protection – cowards

    • Just because USA is not “targeting” the kids, women and elderly in these countries, does it make the act of bombing ok? Or a lesser tragedy? Or perhaps it is ok to have the “casualties of war” as long as “we” are safe? No!! My brother in humanity. It is not a good enough excuse. No amount of excuse or explanation could make it “ok”.

    • Jim Dene:
      Not true. ” the targets” might be living among the civilians/innocents just like the bombers of boston marathon were living among USA citizens. Did Obama sent an air missile in the area to “clear” it off? No!! They are keeping the innocents safe and going on a major human hunt not killing even an Animal in the act. So how so you justify their act of random or lets say ” not so random” bombing in the HEAVILY poplulated areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. please think about it. All humans are EQUAL, that’s what America was built on. We live and breathe just like anyone else in the world. We have emotions, we hurt and bleed just like an American. Our mothers and family feel the same loss and unbearable pain, just like a human being in USA.

      • Nouman Qureshi

        What’s the point of explaining it to those humans who are too ignorant and arrogant in their ways. I’m a peace loving person but I won’t bend over for the acceptance of the original cowards. Pathetic pathological lairs these American cowards (the decision makers).

  5. Farid Benfeghoul

    Dear Omid,

    Parents have children, these children are brothers and sisters, and (normally) feel each other‘s pain. If this positive syllogism is true for real kinship, it turns, however, into a tragically negative one, when it comes to God’s children: They are NOT brothers and sisters, and do NOT behave like they were. They are crowds behaving according to what the ego recognizes – on a microlevel or a macrolevel – as “Me” and “Mine”. This is the sad human condition that we all share, the exception(s) confirming the rule. The crucial question is when are we going to stop playing on this primitive level, and start to respond to that Love pulsating – unrecognized – with every breath, and every heart beat, in everyone.

    It seems that your article hat put the finger on an eternally sore spot. We are still far away from the critical mass needed for a collective spiritual awakening that promises to bring us real compassion for the suffering.

    All the best,

    Farid.

  6. About targeting civilians or not, isn’t there overwhelming evidence available to decision makers in White House and Pentagon that their attacks from drones and their forces in Afghanistan are killing a large number of innocent people of all ages.

  7. American and coalition forces do not target civilians and especially children. What several of you fail to mention is that Taliban and other islamist combatants use villages and mosque as cover after an attack against American and coalition forces expecting “Rules of engagement” to save them. The message should be for the islamist combatants to stop using women and children as shields.

  8. A very well written piece. Just imagine the amount of pain, anger, sorrow, and hatred the death of these children builds in the hearts of their parents and relatives. Once I was warned that your child is like your heart walking outside your body, so be ready for the pain that comes with any harm to them. In the last couple years several people in the States have come out and harmed a large number of people…including universities and cinemas…and most of them were declared to be mentally unstable. But imagine…if your mother, father, child, sibling became a part of collateral damage due to drone attacks..will you accept it and sit at home? You do not have to be mentally unstable to retaliate by committing the same horrendous acts. May it be a life in the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan…each life is worth the same and we will have to answer to God one day for each life we took in the name of religion and war. I hope people learn how to forgive..and maybe one day we will live in peace!

  9. Do you think the US Gov actually targets civilians, in the same way these people targeted women and children ? If you do, then you really ought to act with your principles and leave this rotten country. Can I suggest a country that acts on Islamic principles like Saudi or Iran.
    It is not only the Christian West that Islam finds itself in conflict with. As mentioned above it is African Christianity, Hinduism in India and Buddhism in Burma. Perhaps Muslims need to take a look at themselves, ask themselves about Mo’ and Aisha (how old was she ?), Ali (maybe the Shi’ites are right ?), apostates (can you not engage in a competition of ideas without killing people who disagree with you ?) and whether the Kaaba is a meteorite that was worshiped pre Islam ?

  10. “My hope and prayer is that the cry of my own heart is not read as an attempt to engage in a calculus of suffering (“my people have suffered more than your people”, etc.) but rather a passionate plea to realize that we are all children of the same God, that each of our lives all over this small planet is sacred and sacrosanct.”

    Omid, by listing all the names at the end of your article I think you clearly do what you say you intended not to do. Ramesh’s reply begins this diversion. I also feel the differences in intent, time, manner and place between the Boston and Afghanistan tragedies are too evident for you to attempt to ignore so easily.

  11. I detest that this president has chosen the coward’s way of dealing with the insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. However, here is the fundamental difference between what the U.S. does and what cowardly terrorists do. The terrorists DELIBERATELY target innocent civilians. The U.S. targets guilty terrorists who hide among women and children. We remove, whenever possible, women and children from war zones. Islamic terrorists purposefully target them. We put our military installations away from civilian areas. We saw in Iraq where Sadaam Hussein put his military installations in heavily populated civilian areas. We weep when we kill innocents with the guilty. Terrorists and their supporters rejoice when innocents are killed. BIG DIFFERENCE!

  12. The author of this piece doesn’t answer the question that he poses: What would Muhammad do?

    I am no scholar but isn’t Muhammad responsible for saying or teaching that that all non muslims are infadels and must be conquered? Haven’t there been many wars in the past where muslims did just that?

    Other religions believe that they are preaching the truth also but they are not doing it at the point of a gun. At least not now.

    Is it not true that muslim societies treat women badly? They do not give them the same rights as men. They can’t do many of the things that men get to do. They are not allowed to be educated, can’t vote and must be almost totally covered up when they are in public. Why are they treated this way?

    Does God want this?

    Did Muhammad teach this?

    Seems to me that Muslim society is the one that needs to change.

    Yah, we have our share of problems in the west but we believe that all men are created equal and that everyone should have the right to the pursuit of happiness.

    Ok so muslims support other muslims, like Jews support other jews, and christians support christians etc. They have the right to believe whatever Muhammad teaches, but they have no right to try and over throw all religions and make everyone in the world a muslim by force.

    Isn’t that what they believe? Isn’t that why there is terorism?

    What would Muhammad do?

    I am not sure but it feels to me that he is the one responsible because the extreme actions taken by some of his followers. They do it in his name.

    Christians may think that they are ight and they may hope and pray that the whole world will some day be christian. But I don’t believe that Jesus would want that to happen if the only way it could be achieved was through TARGETING innocent people and maiming and killing them.

  13. Terrific paintings! This is the kind of info that are meant to be shared across the internet. Shame on the search engines for no longer positioning this submit upper! Come on over and talk over with my website . Thanks =)

  14. Nouman Qureshi

    There are no Christians hated or bombed in Pakistan. Different the case with Jews. But still not as worse as the Americans do with the Muslims and Vietnamese, Burmans, Natives, Africans from the beginning of the century. You guys are cowards and need to attack a people for national unity. Face the facts and become humans already. cheers

  15. Thank you for speaking from Many of our hearts, hope and pray for more vocals and literary strengths like yours to come through inshallah, my prayers to All children of god who have been through, violence,suffering,and pain

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