On Nov. 5, Major Nidal Hasan, a psychiatrist in the United States Army, opened fire on his fellow servicemen in Fort Hood, Texas, resulting in 13 dead and more than 30 injured. If it wasn’t for the quick reaction of a female officer, who shot Maj. Hasan four times, the casualties could have doubled.
Hasan is currently receiving treatment at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, recovering from his wounds. Hasan had been dealing with many soldiers coming back from the war, mostly treating them for post-traumatic stress disorder. Prior to the shooting, a decision was made to deploy Hasan to Afghanistan, in order to assist the army’s mission there.
A background check showed that Hasan, who has complained of harassment due to his Arab ethnicity and Islamic faith, had tried to resign from the army, but his request was refused. Since 9-11, hate crimes have been on the rise against Arabs, Muslims and people fitting the description of a Middle Eastern-looking person.
There is some speculation on whether Hasan committed the shooting for religious purposes. Personally, I don’t know of any religion that encourages murder. What I do know is that Islam teaches peace and coexistence and that a Muslim is obligated to accept God’s word and to abide by His law on Earth. In the Islamic holy book, the Quran, God says that one murder is equal to the killing of the whole of humanity.
Since Islam does not justify murder, in any way, I find it hard to understand how extremists, or those who commit crimes “in the name of God” justify the killing of innocents. Islam, Christianity and Judaism share a common history and believe in the same righteous people, from Adam to Noah, Moses, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Solomon, David, Joseph, to Jesus and Mohammed. In Islam, all these men, and many others, carried messages of peace to humanity and were sent by a higher power to end wrongdoings in their societies, by laying down the law and showing humanity the difference between right and wrong.
I think the problem lies in the way people get caught up in the literal narrative of the Quran, while ignoring the moral lessons that its ancient stories hold. Even though what happened thousands of years ago surely does not literally apply today, the moral meaning of these stories still applies. Therefore, by misinterpreting and taking verses in their literal meanings and out of context, fundamentalists cause great suffering.
Regardless of whether Hasan thought that his shootings would, somehow, bring justice or avenge the Muslims killed in the recent wars, or bring a form of revenge on an army that treated him with prejudice, what he did was wrong. These actions can in no way be excused, not even in the name of Islam, because according to it, only God can give or take life.
I wonder if Hasan realizes to what extent he harmed the Arab-American and the Muslim-American community, who will now suffer even bigger acts of prejudice due to the Fort Hood events. Senator Joe Lieberman is considering putting on a congressional hearing to investigate the shooting, which is now leading many people to question the loyalty of some 3,000 Muslims in the U.S. army and millions of residents of the United States.
Even Hasan’s family has described the events as despicable and deplorable. This shows how shocked the family is at Hasan’s action. Rafik Hamad, an uncle of Hasan, was quoted saying: “We don’t believe he is capable of doing something like that [ . . . ] Maybe it built up together — the harassment, too many patients, the workload, the tragedies his patients brought to him. [ . . . ] Whatever it was, it must have been big pressure, something terrible he couldn’t handle. [ . . . ] I want to ask him, ‘Did you do it, and why?’”
Nonetheless, the true tragedy lies in the souls that have ended their journey on Earth and how much their families will miss them. I strongly condemn the shooting and I believe that there is no justification for such a cold-blooded murder. Resorting to violence never has and never will solve anything.
Omar Al-Ramlawi is the Managing Editor at the Manitoban.