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Murder has no religion

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN
  • The Fort Hood killings were not a religious act, says Arsalan Iftikhar
  • He says reports shooter said "Allahu Akbar" don't make slayings an "Islamic" crime
  • Iftikhar says Islam forbids the taking of human life
  • Thousands of patriotic Muslims serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, he says
  • Fort Hood
  • Islam
  • Armed Forces

Editor's Note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of, and contributing editor for Islamica magazine in Washington.

Washington (CNN) -- Most of the world's 1.57 billion Muslims know that the Holy Quran states quite clearly that, "Anyone who kills a human being ... it shall be as though he has killed all of mankind. ... If anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he has saved the lives of all of mankind."

Accordingly, it should come as little surprise to any reasonable observer that when Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan recently committed his shocking acts of mass murder at Fort Hood, Texas, America's Muslim community of over 7 million felt an added sense of horror and sadness at this senseless attack against the brave men and women of the U.S. armed forces.

True to form, many conservative media pundits wasted little time in pointing to reports that Hasan had said "Allahu Akbar" (Arabic for "God is great") at the start of his murderous rampage. News coverage continuously showed the looping convenience store black-and-white videotape footage of Hasan wearing traditional white Islamic garb.

First of all, someone simply saying "Allahu Akbar" while committing an act of mass murder no more makes their criminal act "Islamic" than a Christian uttering the "Hail Mary" while murdering an abortion medical provider, or someone chanting "Onward, Christian Soldiers" while bombing a gay nightclub, would make their act "Christian" in nature.

Simply put; murder is murder and has no religion whatsoever.

Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan once wrote that, "One most certainly does insult Muslims by tying their religion to movements such as terrorism or fascism. Muslims perceive a double standard in this regard: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would never be called 'Christian terrorists' even though they were in close contact with the Christian Identity Movement. No one would speak of Christo-fascism or Judeo-fascism as the Republican[s] ... speak of Islam-o-fascism. ... [Many people also] point out that [it was] persons of Christian heritage [who] invented fascism, not Muslims."

According to Pentagon statistics, there were over 3,400 American Muslims serving in the active-duty military as of April 2008. The Wall Street Journal reported that many officials believe "the actual number of [American] Muslim soldiers may be at least 10,000 higher than the Pentagon statistics."

Thus, with thousands of patriotic American Muslim women and men proudly serving in our United States Army in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps it would behoove our army leaders to consider sending a strong message of American unity by appointing an American Muslim to be a part of the prosecution team against Hasan.

This would help show that the mass murders allegedly committed by Hasan have nothing to do with the teachings of our religion.

The United States Army can send a resounding message to all Americans and the rest of the world that the social fabric of our country will never become unraveled by murderous (and irreligious) gun-wielding felons -- whether it is a Muslim in Fort Hood, Texas, or a non-Muslim on a shooting rampage in an Orlando, Florida, high-rise less than a day later.

By appointing a multicultural (and multireligious) legal prosecution team made up of military lawyers of all races and religions, we can set a good example to show the rest of the world that our American legal justice system is truly equal for all people, regardless of their race, religion or socioeconomic status.

The larger point is that Muslims in America completely disavow and wash our hands of any acts of murder (or terrorism) claimed to be performed in the name of our religion. Acts of mass murder, regardless of their time or place, are simply ungodly criminal acts that have no religion whatsoever.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arsalan Iftikhar.