What has happened Tuesday was catastrophic. It was even bigger than pearl harbor. Words cannot describe the magnitude of the human tragedy that has taken place. The consequences of this event will be far reaching and will necessarily have global as well as local impact on Muslims.
If the perpetrators of this extremely horrible, senseless and inhuman act are Muslims, then it can be safely assumed that decades of work by scholars, groups and activists to improve relations between the US and the Muslim World has been severely reversed.
The response to today's terrible tragedies will have an impact on the US role in world politics, and will effect US immigration policy. And now it seems unlikely that the secret evidence act will be repealed. In fact, one may expect more laws which will curtail the civil rights of all Americans to be passed.
Muslims in America will be at the mercy of the wisdom of American leadership. Muslims must encourage the US government not to compromise American values of democracy because it would mean that the terrorists have succeeded in destroying the American way of life, and that would be their greatest victory.
Muslims must encourage the US government not to compromise American values of democracy because it would mean that the terrorists have succeeded in destroying the American way of life, and that would be their greatest victory.
This event will eventually strengthen the US both internally and externally. More and more countries traditionally aligned against the US, like India, Russia and China will enhance their cooperation with the US to fight international terrorism, global militancy from non-state actors and other forms of non-state violence. It may provide a rallying point around which the world may unite behind the US to more aggressively deal with global terrorism and conflicts.
At the moment it is vital that Muslim governments especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, Iran and Iraq cooperate with US authorities to the fullest extent possible. It is even more crucial that American Muslim groups, organizations and individuals come out and unconditionally condemn this dastardly act in the strongest of terms. Secondly, they must put their contacts and resources, both in the US and the Muslim World, at the disposal of US authorities to identify and apprehend the perpetrators and their supporters.
This is not the time for politics. This is the moment for unity and all Americans, regardless of their faith, politics and ethnicity must unite behind the singular principle that an attack against one American is an attack against all.
Not all Muslims are terrorists and Islam does not condone such inhuman acts. No one disputes that. This act threatens all things that are good about the US and we must guard against it jealously. We must not allow the terrorists under any circumstances to alter our values and our sense of fairness and justice. It violates all that Islam stands for and must be condemned without reservation.
Individuals and groups who commit such acts are not only the enemies of Islam because they give it a bad name by calling it jihad but are also the enemies of humanity. They have confessed their complete lack of compassion for and solidarity with human society. There is no need to feel defensive about Islam. Sometimes Muslims in their zeal to protect the image of Islam act injudiciously. Today they will have to trust American people and American leadership to make the right decisions.
Unfortunately if this is an act by Osama Bin Laden or some other Muslim group, it will give most nations the freedom to act with impunity against Muslims; India in Kashmir, China in Xinjiang, Russia in Chechnya, Israel in Palestine and Muslim governments against their oppositions. They will use the slogan "fight against terrorism" as a cover to brutally subdue legitimate Muslim struggles. In that past, the fear of the US forced these states to act with restrain. Now they may want to act with US support.
It is my hope that wisdom prevails and while recognizing the paramount need to maintain security, the US will not give up its moral struggles to promote democracy and freedom overseas.
If Muslims are responsible for the attack on America, then Muslims as never before will be in desperate need of American protection. Muslims in America will need the US to defend them from the rise in xenophobia and hatred that may arise. Muslims overseas will need to the US to protect them from their own authoritarian governments and from the nations that occupy them from Kashmir to Palestine who may wish to exploit this tragedy.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is the Director of International studies at Adrian College in Michigan. He is on the board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.