Welcome to SALAM

A 9/11 anniversary speech by Sacramento’s Imam M. A. Azeez

The following is a speech given on September 8, 2011 by Imam M. A. Azeez at a Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) event commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is my utmost pleasure to welcome you to SALAM. I like to thank you for accepting our invitation and honoring us with your visit.

Ten years ago, our nation was subjected to one of the worst atrocities in our history. When the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, we lost thousands of lives and with them we lost our deep-seated feeling of security and invincibility. Those evil perpetrators, when they executed their heinous crime, were bent on not only taking as many lives as possible, but also spreading as much fear as they could. They succeeded.

Today, we know one thing for a fact: things will never be the same in our world.

And since I have limited time, I wish to share with you a few things:

1. Although all of us suffered greatly in the aftermath of that horrible event, American Muslims suffered a lot more. Not only that many Muslims also died on that day inside the buildings, or among first responders, but we as a community suffered from the subsequent backlash, discrimination, harassment, losing jobs, depression and lack of security. The US responded to an evil dogma with a blind one. We invaded two countries and thousands of lives, mostly Muslims, were lost. These wars eventually cost the world one of the worst economic crises in modern history.

2. In the course of us leading the so-called war on terror, we need to ask ourselves: how many extremists were created in the process?

3. The Arab Spring proved to us that Muslims don’t hate our freedoms, they don’t hate liberty, they don’t despise democracy. These notions are a sham that many of our leaders utilized in order to justify war.

4. In the Koran, there is a story of a great leader, Dhul-Qarnayn, The man of Two Epochs, who set out on this honorable journey of service to help and assist others who needed his help. He freed people from tyranny and rendered aid to the weak and less-fortunate.

Dhul-Qarnayn had three rules however, from which we can learn a lot today:

• Help people only when they ask for your help.

• Don’t interfere with people’s indigenous cultures.

• Rather than doing the job on behalf of people, help them help themselves.

5. The United States is a big influential country so many people will blame us anyway. As they say we are doomed if we do and doomed if we don’t. We shouldn’t be discouraged by that!

6. How do we change? Which path to take? How do we recover from the post 9/11 syndrome? The answer is right here: this gathering! Accepting each other, acknowledging our common humanity, cherishing our differences before our similarities, opening our doors and our hearts to each other.

At the end of the day and when the dust settles we realize one thing, that the most valuable resource we have, the most substantial possession in our hands, the most precious gift we were ever blessed with is … each other!