On the Occasion of the Attacks against the USA A Letter to Yemen [Archives:2001/40/Focus]
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
I thank all of you for your kind words and thoughts during this difficult time. With the love and wisdom of Allah, all these things will eventually pass and we will surely realize peace again. I want to let you know that there is an awareness among the American people that these acts of violence are not condoned by most Arabs or followers of Islam.
We are aware that these types of acts are not the work of true followers of Mohamed (PBUH) or his teachings, but represent the confused beliefs of a small group of politically motivated individuals, reacting to what they believe is an unjust and evil situation. In many ways, we can understand and appreciate the strong emotions and deeply religious feelings that motivated the violent acts but we cannot understand how this anger was directed towards so many innocent people — many of whom were also Arab and ardent followers of Islam.
You must understand that the political establishment of America is based upon commercial interests and does not reflect the morality of most ordinary citizens. Political acts, such as the continued support for Israeli aggression, the blockade of Iraqi trade and the armed troops on Arab land are not subject to our usual democratic control. Such decisions are made at high levels of our Federal government and are designed to maintain the financial integrity of our way of life. And so, when such acts as were committed on September 11th, 2001, effect ordinary working men, women and children, we can only view these as senseless acts that pose a direct threat to our own lives and the lives of our families and friends.
I am very much aware that the type of injuries we have sustained are no less painful than the injuries suffered by thousands of ordinary Iraqis, deprived of medicine and other vital necessities, as we continue restrictions on the Iraqi leadership. In both circumstances, it is the innocent who suffer for the mistakes of their leaders.
One encouraging sign I have seen is that many ordinary people have turned to the Creator, Allah, during this time of pain and have attempted to understand what has happened, and why it has happened, instead of merely reacting with vengeance or demanding revenge. This renewed relationship with Allah, by whatever name He is called, is something that I hope will endure, for it is the only thing that we all have in common and is the only thing that will unite us all in peace and brotherhood.
During my 6 week tour of Yemen, I was impressed by the devotion of Yemeni people to Allah and with the hospitality and genuine friendship that was extended to me. I was welcomed into the homes and lives of many Yemeni people as an individual, not as an American visitor. This ability to separate the personal character from the stereotypes of national or religious origins is something that I hope will grow and find fertile ground here in America. Although we have had isolated crimes committed against Arab and Islamic citizens of our own country, these acts have been condemned by most Americans.
The recent presidential election in America was a close one. President Bush came to office with a very weak agenda and an economy that was drifting towards a recession. The acts of September 11th gave him, for the first time, an opportunity to appeal to the emotions of the American public. His father, George Bush senior, experienced a similar rush of popular support during the Gulf War. The pressure on our current president to retaliate in some immediate way, through military action, is extremely strong; however, the public is demanding that such action be carried out in a way that does not pose threats to more innocent people, whether they are Afghan, Iraqi or another nationality. Again, this is encouraging and something that I hope the present political administration will take in to consideration.
My focus now turns to Yemen. I have just shot over 40 hours of video tape on the people and places of Yemen to encourage tourism. The material has already been partially posted on www.viewzone.com and was, prior to the recent events, receiving much praise and interest. I had hoped so much that Americans, Australians and Canadians would visit Yemen and bring an influx of capital to build the country’s infrastructure. As I left Yemen, the American State Department was reviewing the prohibition against travel and the armed escorts in Yemen’s northern territory were being reviewed with a very good probability that they would be discontinued. This has, for now at least, been made a moot point.
Over the past several days, I have received numerous notes and messages from my Yemeni friends. All of them have expressed their condemnation of this act of violence and have been concerned for my safety. I join with them in the recognition that violence perpetrated against innocent families is sin, and that those who do such things are confused and do much harm to both Islam and Arabs. But in all of this pain and confusion, I see an opportunity for Yemen and a way to revive my hopes for the country and people. First, you must understand that Yemen is a very unique and special country.
There is a lost history of man and his God that remains buried in your sands and which many believe will one day be the focus of the entire world. Recent translations of ancient Sabaean texts point to Yemen as the land where peace will reign and where humanity will come together under the One God, Allah. This great destiny is the birthright of all Yemeni people. My own experiences in Yemen make me confident that this will happen. The fruits of your spirit are ripe and good. In the land where the Great Prophet once walked and taught, the message of Allah’s love for all men and women must be made clear. There is no room for hatred or for temporal political issues in Allah’s country. Yemen must commit itself overtly to peace and non-violence as a recognition of the Will and Ways of Allah.
There is only One God and His people are of many races, colors and denominations. Allah will bless those who do His work for peace on Earth and will punish those who divide His family. In the final analysis, we are all individually standing before Allah and are responsible to Him for our thoughts and actions. We ultimately have no allegiance to politics or nationalism or other organizations that should stand in the way of our commitment to the peaceful intentions of Allah for this planet. Each individual must put down the heavy burden of hate and the need for vengeance or retaliation.
We must align ourselves with His wishes for our brotherhood and happiness, putting everything else aside. Yemeni people must not wait for political leaders or religious leaders to make a statement in this regard. Yemeni people must voice their alliance with peace, each one to the One God, and strengthen their relationship with Allah. In this way, the people of the world will know who you are — the peacemakers — and they will look to you for strength and direction during this confusing time.
When the world recognizes the good from the evil, Yemen will be seen as an example of how the present world conflicts can be resolved. Your interpretation of Islam and of the more gentle and compassionate ways of living together will bring you closer to other countries and people and your country will rise from the sands to assume your great destiny. The great battle yet to be fought is within each of us and not on some distant battlefield. We confront our own human emotions as we stand in judgement by the One God. Let us rise to the occasion!