Reflections on the Benghazi Attack

Benghazi Attack

from Libya Alhurra Livestream

“Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well and that if they do wrong you will do wrong. But (instead) accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong if they do evil.”
— Prophet Muhammad (s) as reported in Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1325

Reflections on the Benghazi Attack

It never fails.  Whenever something happens in the world by those who believe they are “protecting” Islam, I am bombarded with questions by fellow Americans about why. I wish that I had an answer. Today was no different.  There is no reason; there is no excuse for the behavior that has been exhibited in Egypt and Libya by a handful of thugs hell-bent on causing damage.  If only they would step back and realize how their actions are more damaging than the ideas they are arguing against.

What was a low budget, unknown YouTube video (that had been up for months before this event) and had only 40,000 views before it was removed earlier this week led to the deaths of four people. The full film has never been screened in the United States, or anywhere for that matter. A CNN article quoted Mohammed al-Zawahiri, brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri of al Qaeda fame stated in what was his attempt to justify the embassy attacks.  “I just want to say, how would the Americans feel if films insulting leading Christian figures like the pope or historical figures like Abraham Lincoln were produced?”  My answer, sure we would be upset, but the chances of a contingent of Americans scaling the Egyptian embassy walls or shooting a rocket grenade into the Libyan mission are slim to none. There are many things said in an open society and we don’t have to like or agree with it but it does not give us the right to take lives and destroy property. Allowing such an inconsequential film to create a global event is unbelievable.

If these so called “defenders of the faith” were truly concerned about the image of Islam in the eyes of the world they would see climbing embassy walls, tearing down flags, and firing rocket launchers into an embassy was nothing but a foolish exertion. What do you do when a bee is buzzing around your head? You ignore it.  When you swat the bee it stings. Instead of embarrassing their country, our faith, and giving “Mr. Bacile” and his ilk more ammunition they should have just left the matter alone. They have fed into the hands of Islamophobes creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead of worrying about a crappy film, protestors could have focused their energy protesting poverty, the Syrian civil war, corruption in their local governments, crumbling infrastructure, or a million other causes. The murder of innocent individuals who were in no way connected to the filming, and who most likely had no idea the film even existed, shows the fragility of their psyche and a failure to understand the true meaning of Islam.  As a Muslim I reject what these men did in the name of our faith.  I reject their hatred, their lack of restraint and their inability to see how their actions harm our faith.

Lastly, I implore them to truly reflect on what the Prophet Mohammed pbuh would say about this? Just a few of the hadith (sayings of the prophet) that echo in this situation include;

“A strong person is not the person who throws his adversaries to the ground. A strong person is the person who contains himself when he is angry.” Al-Bukhari; Book 47, No. 47.3.12

“He will not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not secure from his wrongful conduct. “ Sahih Muslim, Hadith 15.

Make your character good for the people. “  as narrated Al-Muwatta, Volume 47, Hadith 1

 “It is better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make a mistake in punishing.” Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1011.

“Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to people.” Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, #473.

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say something good or keep quiet.” as reported by Abu Huraira–Mutafakkun Ghalai.

To my fellow Americans, I hope you can find it in you to understand that these actions were not condoned by the Muslim community at large. Not a single Muslim I know has responded with anything but astonishment and shock over the behavior of a few. We will continue to be a good neighbors, friends and citizens to you and our country; I hope you can do the same for us.




  1. says

    Thank you Amanda, for reminding all of us that in these times when the most outrageous and hateful people get all too much attention, there are millions (and maybe billions) of peace-loving people of all religions and nationalities. I hope the voices like yours and the many others who seek peace in all corners of the world will be heard loud and clear – and will be the voices that reverberate.

  2. says

    Thank you Amanda for this beautiful defense of sanity and utter rejection of violence. Thank you, too, for the quoted hadith – very illuminating. I am proud to call you neighbor and fellow country woman. I am so sorry that reactionaries from any side purporting to represent any faith would ever have it otherwise. Their voices shall never drown out ours.

  3. says

    Thank you for your kind responses. I also want to add, media reports have come out that the attack on the Libyan embassy was planned by extremist groups, this video was simply used as the bait to move their agenda forward. This doesn’t detract from my original statements as the protesters are being swayed to these actions based on what they are being told by others. I implore them to step back and distance themselves from those who have alternative agendas.

  4. says

    In the past days, I have been saddened by the reaction to this situation as anything other than a terrible act by a small group of people. I have been sharing statistical data with friends and colleagues, reminding them of the religious makeup of this planet and that the reality that extremists do not represent any religion.

  5. rod says

    The problem with the Hadith is that you can find a number of them supporting violent acts against infidels and non-believers. It’s time we acknowledge not only the acts performed by bad people, but that we repudiate bad ideologies (not just Muslim, but Christian, too). Until we do that, people will always feel justified in acts like this. It is a great thing to see a people stand up against violence, but our ancient books, the same books you carry to church and ignore the passages you no longer find fit for society, will continue to drive arguably sane people to take extreme actions. Are you ready to say the other Hadith are wrong?

    • says

      My point in sharing these Hadith are to remind my fellow Muslims they should keep in mind these thoughts. There are violent and inflammatory statements/ beliefs made in all religious text just as the are very positive and uplifting. Personally I reject all violence as I believe faith is meant to improve lives and not take value from it. As I made clear, I believe, the actions that are going on are not Islamic and those who would seek to become violent over this displeasure should think twice if they truly believe they are acting on behalf of our faith.

  6. says

    I think it is good to remember that the Islamic fringe is just as “crazy” as the Christian fringe, or any other group on the margins of society. I wish that marginalized groups didn’t feel the need or the right to use weapons to make themselves heard.
    I do NOT think that armed attacks by marginalized groups is good or right. I do think that a lot of the American groups, especially on the Right, should look at the fringes of their groups before they start throwing stones. I have never met or been friends with a Muslim or Christian who thought that killing people of another faith was a good idea. I would never assume that any religion has all or none of the crazy people in it.