Like 1.6 billion Muslims across the globe, I went to the mosque to celebrate Eid, the end of Ramadan, along with my two sons, Isaac, the “four-year-old Einstein” and Albert, the “13-year-old SAT expert.” While listening to the imam preaching, I grabbed Isaac and Albert, shivered, and held them close. The person next to me asked, “Are you all right?”
“I’m trying to protect my two sons, because I’m afraid that a terrorist might start shooting,” I said.
The person stared at me like I was paranoid. “You’re probably drunk.” I wish that were true.
Every day, the world moves forward. From science to politics, nothing holds still. The US has finally nominated a woman to run for president. LIGO (the Caltech observatory in Louisiana) has confirmed the gravitational waves predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein. But it seems the Muslim world takes a step backward every day.
This year’s Ramadan, instead of being the holiest month, was the bloodiest. Terrorists like Nibras Islam killed innocent people, even children. Snapshots: June 12, Omar Mateen, a 30-year old Muslim, shot 50 people at the Pulse nightclub. June 28, three Islamic terrorists stormed Istanbul Airport and killed 45 travelers. July 1, seven Jihadists killed 22 foreigners in a Bangladesh café. July 3, three Daesh suicide bombers bombed more than 250 people in Baghdad. July 4, four terrorists killed four people at a Saudi Arabia mosque.
Here, Isaac and Albert asked, “Daddy, why are you crying?” It was because I smelled terror, and it was familiar.
Hate motivated terrorists to chant Allahu Akbar while destroying the Twin Towers, almost killing my younger brother. Hate drove the Taliban to shoot Malala. Terrorists shouted Allahu Akbar while killing 130 children in a school in Peshawar. Two hateful brothers recited Allahu Akbar before killing journalists at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo. Hate allowed terrorists to kill 137 people in the November Paris attacks. On July 1, seven terrorists unleashed hatred on innocent people in Bangladesh, where I was born 37 years ago.
Here, at New York University, where I launched the Bari Science Lab anti–Islamic State campaign in 2014, Isaac and I walked to the Bobst Library to solve calculus problems to prepare him for his upcoming interview with CUNY Lehman College President Ricardo Fernandez (which is on July 12).
As we passed the basement television, I saw a report on terrorists killing hostages in Dhaka. Many of my books aimed at creating a secular society were published in Dhaka, in Bengali. After my poem Vande Mataram, Bangladesh was printed, I fled Bangladesh, as did Pijush Bondopardhoy, in fear after reciting it.
Isaac asked to solve a physics exercise assigned to him by Dr. Daniel Kabat. Instead of answering, I dragged myself to the nearest sofa and faced the TV. There was more blood. The seven terrorists in Dhaka killed almost all the foreign hostages, including Tarishi Jain, 19, and Faraaz Hossain, a 20-year-old Bangladeshi.
Ms. Jain, a Hindu, was studying economics at University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Hossain was an undergraduate of Emory’s Oxford College.
The terrorists quizzed the captives. When Faraaz was able to recite a verse from the Quran, they told him he would be allowed to leave, but they shot his friend Tarishi for failing the test, and for being a Hindu. They later killed Faraaz, for having tried to save a Hindu, and 20 other hostages.
These events are the stuff of horror movies. One person was forced to watch the beheading of another. The rapid, targeted brutality was photographed, so it could be uploaded to social media.
The next day, I went to Lehman College to make a speech about this brutality, but I couldn’t finish, because the innocent faces of Faraaz, Tarishi, and many others flashed back in my mind.
These disgusting terrorists are gaining momentum, all around the world. In the holiest month of the year, they unleashed terror in the US, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
Any rational thinker must ask: Why are terrorists, who claim to be Muslims, hiding bombs inside their bodies to kill other Muslims who are worshipping in mosques? Even Nazis did not kill Nazis, yet Islamic State terrorists and other terrorists kill Muslims time after time.
On social media, many of my Muslim brothers in Bangladesh described the killing of innocent people at the Pulse nightclub as a lesson for Christians and Jews, and denounced me for writing I am Muslim and I Love Gays. Over the years, I’ve written many articles in the Jerusalem Post, Times of India, the Times of Israel and the Huffington Post to promote my anti-Islamic State campaign. Instead of supporting me, many Bangladeshi Muslims wrote that I was an agent of Israel and America.
I asked Albert why he thought people would call me an agent of Israel. His answer was, “Because sometimes, 14 million people are greater than 1.6 billion.”
This quantitative answer stunned me. However, Isaac helped me understand. Albert had compared the worldwide numbers of Jews, which is 14 million, with the number of Muslims, which is 1.6 billion.
To date, 900 people and organizations have won the Nobel Prize, which is awarded for achievement in the sciences and humanities, without regard to race, religion, or country.
If the prize reflected population statistics, Muslims would have been awarded the Nobel Prize 189 times, and Jews, two or three times. Yet, Muslims have won the award only 12 times, and Jews have attained more than 180.
The difference lies in secular education. Some Muslims, angry at America, Europe, and Israel, teach their children at an early age to hate these nations. They send their children to the Madrasa, where the imam teaches them to hate non-Muslims.
We should stop listening to these imams, and understand the great Bengali poet, Kazi Nazrul Islam, who wrote:
We are two flowers on the
same stalk – Hindu and Muslim.
The Muslim is the apple of her
eyes, the Hindu is her soul.
The same sun and moon swing
in the lap of the same mother-sky.
Faraaz Hossain would have understood Nazrul’s poem. He sacrificed his life trying to save Tarishi Jain, a Hindu girl.
Hate is a waste of time, and it cannot make a better Islam. The only sensible plan is secular education: producing Isaac Newtons and Albert Einsteins in every home. That is the only way to make Islam great again.
As a Muslim, I am doing my part, by teaching Isaac and Albert that math, algorithms and physics can help us unlock the mysteries of nature. I hope all Muslim parents will do the same.
Rashidul Bari teaches Computer Science at Princeton University, mathematics at CUNY-Baruch College and physics at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math & Science. His anti-Islamic State website is Bari Science Lab.