ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – On a recent Friday afternoon, Muslims filed into an Arlington mosque – men on the first floor, women on the second – and prayed for peace as the 10-year anniversary of terror approached.
“Brothers and sisters, when we talk about Islam, we talk about a religion that did not know terror before, did not practice terror before,” Imam Hasan Khalil told them.
“Killing one is like killing the entire humanity … if you don’t have regard for the single life of a human being, then you don’t have regard for any living thing on earth,” he said.
All agreed, and then they kneeled to the floor to pray.
Khalil’s sermon is no different than what is being preached in any other place of worship, as Americans brace for the emotional recognition on Sunday of the 10 years that have passed since this country was attacked by Osama bin Laden and his gang of terrorists.
Muslims, however, say they also have to look over their shoulder for those in this country who continue to believe, wrongly, that their faith in some way makes them terrorist sympathizers.
Bin Laden may have claimed to have been a Muslim, but he was not true to the faith, local Muslim leaders say, because he was a killer.
“One of the greatest teachings of Islam is peace,” Khalil said in his prayer service. “It is a religion to establish peace, and to establish justice, not the other way around,” he said.
Jamal Qaddura, spokesman for the estimated 20,000 Muslims who live in and around Arlington, said laws should be passed that prevent hatemongers from inciting violence against Muslims.
“The Muslim community has been tarnished,” Qaddura said. “Ten years later, as we approach the anniversary in a few more days, we are still the ongoing victims of 9/11.”
Last year, a man burned down the playground set at an Arlington mosque after failing to burn the mosque itself. He was caught on a surveillance camera and arrested. He later pleaded guilty to hate crime charges and was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison.
“He just said, ‘I did it because I hate Muslims,’” Qaddura said.
It is that type of unbridled hatred, made worse by the aftermath of 9/11, that Muslims say they hope to one day overcome.
Imam Khalil drove home that point during the recent prayer service.
“Mercy and terror do not work together,” he told his followers. “If you are sent to be merciful, then you are definitely not sent to spread terror.