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Boston bombing: US Muslims react with fear, frustration, and new resolve

While Muslim Americans have condemned the Boston bombing, there's also been frustration with the perceived need to explain and apologize for the suspects. Some are emphasizing increased engagement by mosques.

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“Islamic law does not permit the random, indiscriminate killing of civilians. It is categorically forbidden,” says Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in a Religion News Service blog post. “[W]e should not conflate their deranged motivations and the teachings of the Islamic tradition.”

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In the same breath, some Muslims have expressed frustration with the perceived need to explain and apologize for the alleged actions of the suspects.

“The Tsarnaev brothers’ ... actions do not speak for me or the overwhelming majority of Muslims. I am not compelled to apologize for them or explain their actions,” says Wajahat Ali, a Muslim-American writer and cultural commentator, in an article for Salon. “This is like asking Republican Christians to apologize for Timothy McVeigh or expecting young white males to explain why individuals like Adam Lanza ... used assault rifles to unleash terror on innocent civilians.”

And what of reports that the elder Tsarnaev, who some say turned to Islam after a youth apparently spent drinking, womanizing, and smoking pot, may have been motivated by extremist tendencies?

By and large, Muslims are suspicious, questioning media accounts that Mr. Tsarnaev had become devout – and that this was the reason for his unraveling.

“Without so much as even the slightest indication from the [alleged] bombers themselves as to what their motives were, the media is going crazy and thus raising the public's fears about Islamic radicalization,” Ba-Yunus writes. “I think we all need to focus on Tamerlan's other issues – like his apparent inability to fit in, his aggressive streak, his isolation, his xenophobic behavior. These are things shared by other mass murderers, and should be studied in greater detail.”

The elder Tsarnaev caused problems at the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge, Mass., a mosque he occasionally attended, according to mosque officials. On at least two occasions, he disrupted sermons in which a speaker said it was OK for Muslims to celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving and July 4 and in which the speaker compared the prophet Muhammad to Martin Luther King Jr.

After the latter incident, Tsarnaev was shouted out of the mosque, and mosque leaders later asked him to stop interrupting sermons or else be barred from the building.

“While these suspects did express views counter to our mosque’s philosophy, they never expressed any hint of violent sentiments or behavior,” the Cambridge mosque said in a statement. “If they had, the FBI would have immediately been called.”

The mosque outbursts, combined with the savage Boston Marathon attacks allegedly perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers, has led many Muslims to distance themselves, and their faith, from the suspects.


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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

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