Khutbah: 9/11 and 20 years of the War on Terror

Advocacy group CAGE has produced a khutba for imams to deliver on Friday as part of its International Witness Campaign to highlight the devastating impact of the War on Terror which led to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

This September marks 20 years of a worldwide war that was initiated by President George Bush on the 18th of September 2001. He declared a “crusade” that created a never ending war turning the whole world into a battlefield for America and its allies.

This so called global “War on Terror” led to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the CIA torture programme, abuses at CIA “black sites,” Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, drone assassinations and systematic draconian and Islamophobic laws and policies across the world.

This global War on Terror fueled the rise of Islamophobia casting Muslims as potential terrorists – anti-Muslim violence escalated and targeting of mainstream Islamic beliefs by politicians and the media became normal.

This global war also accelerated growth of far-right movements across the West who exploited the hate against Muslims to justify their racism. In these 20 years, we’ve also seen Eastern governments like China utilise the “War on Terror” narrative against the Muslims of East Turkestan. India has done the same to deprive Indian Muslims of their citizenship and also attack Muslims in Kashmir.

These two decades of the “War on Terror” have led to so many deaths of innocent people, numerous oppressive and unjust legislations and policies targeting Muslim communities and undermining the rule of law, the presumption of innocence and due process.

Many in the mainstream media will be discussing the events of 9/11 tomorrow. Our sympathies are with the families of the 2,977 people that died on that day. And our hearts go out to the nearly one million Muslims that were killed by America and its allies since that day.

“For the Muslim Ummah every single day has been like a 9/11.”

What happened before 9/11?

This global war was launched allegedly as a response to the 9/11 incident, and many have come to accept this false narrative as though history began on September 11th, 2001. In reality, the aggression against and destruction of Muslim people began much before 9/11.

In 1991: The U.S. and 35 allies bombed Iraq. They used depleted uranium which led to half a million dead children. More than a decade of financial and medical sanctions were imposed thereafter. This is BEFORE the second invasion of the Iraq war in 2003!

In 1993, the U.S. invaded Somalia. U.S. troops were expelled in an infamous Black Hawk incident. 312 Muslims were killed and many more wounded.

The 9/11 attacks. Editorial credit: Anthony Correia

For many decades the U.S. and allies have provided unflinching support to Israel in its continued occupation of Palestine and expulsion of Muslims there.

For a very long time, the U.S. has maintained huge military presence in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar through military bases from where war and destruction is launched on other Muslim countries.

Long before 9/11, the U.S. and allies have provided political and economic support to brutal dictators in Muslim world, whilst singing about democracy.

This 20 year war has not only been impacting Muslims in far away places. It has affected us right here directly: in our schools via the Prevent program; at our workplaces experiencing Islamophobia; at airports being stopped under Schedule 7; in the media routinely being associated with violence and hate… and much more. Because of this false narrative created by the War on Terror, all Muslims are misrepresented as suspects or potential terrorists in our current time.

Our duty as Muslims

We are part of the Muslim Ummah and we stand together against injustice taking place against the Ummah around the world and also here in this country.

We should call for accountability for all governments, agencies and officials that are guilty of war crimes and abuses since 2001. This is a basic duty we owe to our brothers who suffered.

We should demand that governments and leaders acknowledge the crimes committed in the name of the War on Terror and we should demand restorative justice for victims and survivors of these wars.

George Bush. Editorial credit: Jason and Bonnie Grower / Shutterstock.com

We should work towards the complete dismantlement of the infrastructure which made those crimes possible, including the unjust laws, policies and practices that were created in this so-called War on Terror.

The oppressed will one day secure their freedom, it is a promise from Allah:

وَنُرِيدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسْتُضْعِفُوا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ ٱلْوَٰرِثِينَ

وَنُمَكِّنَ لَهُمْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَنُرِىَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَهَـٰمَـٰنَ وَجُنُودَهُمَا مِنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا۟ يَحْذَرُونَ

“And We wanted to confer favour upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors; and to establish them in the land; and through them show Pharaoh, Hamân, and their soldiers ˹the fulfilment of˺ what they feared.” [28:5-6]

The Muslim is always positive and optimistic, we know our Lord is Allah and He is always in support of His obedient slaves. We must remain steadfast on the path to justice.

Those who spend trillions on spreading war and destruction – especially if the goal is to undermine Islam – will never succeed because their cause is unjust and criminal:

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَٰلَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّوا۟ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ فَسَيُنفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ ۗ وَٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوٓا۟ إِلَىٰ جَهَنَّمَ يُحْشَرُونَ

“Surely the disbelievers spend their wealth to hinder others from the Path of Allah. They will continue to spend to the point of regret. Then they will be defeated and the disbelievers will be driven into Hell” [8:36]

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