Commemorating in Heavy Fog

Posted: 1 Rajab 1423, 8 September 2002

Very little can be seen of where one is going, less still of where one has been. The thick dark blanket of fog seems to have robbed our very confidence and the ability to think objectively. The broken white line that snakes in the darkness may help us find our way. This is a simple two step process.

Firstly, a "retrospective look" at our reactions during last year to what is now popularly known as nine eleven.

Secondly, a "moment's pause" before reacting to the anniversary commemorations.

Before taking stock of past and present, let us make yet another record of sincere condolence and sympathies for the tragedy.

When the nine eleven tragedy took place, invariably all Muslim institutions and their leaders (rightfully) recorded sadness, shock and such sentiments. Many Mosques, Schools, Businesses, Web Sites, not to mention some homes and cars displayed their camaraderie by hoisting American flags, banners, bumper stickers and everything else that mass-merchants churned out their factories. Not one but many Friday sermons were dedicated to this tragic event. Our entire ethnic media reworked its content. Public and familial dinner discourse began and ended with the talk of nine eleven. And all of this is but a tip of the emotional fervor with no precedence.

Discourse in regional conferences and national conventions of Muslims continue to revolve around nine eleven. An excerpt from a west coast Muslim community calendar demonstrates the passions filtered down from the national psyche of Muslims in America.

Day of Unity & Prayer; To Honor Those Who Lost Their Lives

A Day Of Unity And Prayer To Remember The Victims Of 9/11

From Tragedy to Transformation Moving Forward After 9/11

Call to 9/11 Unity Fund Muslims to hold 9/11 Vigil

The tragedy of nine eleven cannot be undermined. But a compelling and bothering question remains un-addressed and thus un-answered. No one has ever heard of an anniversary of any other tragedy, let alone tragedies far bigger in size by virtue of sheer loss of life, not to mention other miseries that come along with tragedies.

Genocide of Bosnia (Over 300,000 Muslims massacred, including 14,000 children. 3 Million Muslims subjected to "ethnic cleansing", and became refugees, having lost all that they had, including, in many cases, their dignity and honor. (Impact International, Sep-Oct 1992)

Massacre in Sabra / Shatilla (Red Cross records 2750 killed although the real figure is thought to be much higher and may never be known -

Mass killings in Kashmir (60,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless ... Kashmir: Paradise Under Siege, a Video Documentary)

Starving & Dying children in Iraq (A child is dying every five minutes. 500,000 children under five years of age are already dead.

One may not even remember who was Jamal Durrah, or when did a bomb destroy the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, or how many Muslims were shot and killed while praying, by Baruch Goldstein.

Remembrance of one human tragedy to the exclusion of all others is an ethical disparity which is hard to reconcile.

From the full basket of many mean yesterdays one wonders about the post-traumatic stress of the mother of Jamal Durrah. She lost her son in the arms of her husband and was repeatedly insulted by the frame-by-frame broadcast of his painful death on Television. Let us not strip our memories naked ... let us remember to remember the many mean yesterdays, not just nine eleven.

Shakeel Syed lives in California and is Vice President of