Outrage, context and jumping to conclusions

Imagine you are going shopping.  On a hot, muggy late August day you pull into the parking lot and stroll into the mall breathing a sigh of relief as you feel the rush of cool air hit you.  But that sigh gets caught in your throat as you glance over to the first store window and see the following notice:

“We will be closed on Friday, September 11, 2009 to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Ali.”

Did you read that right?  The store will be closing to commemorate a Muslim who died on September 11?  The immediate conclusion you might reach is that here was a store whose owners are CELEBRATING the tragic events of 9/11/01 and COMMEMORATING as a martyr one of the terrorists responsible.  What an outrage, right?!!  Why, you ought to march right into that store and give that Muslim a piece of your mind!!  Or better yet, tell everyone you know to boycott the store.  This is America!!  Capitalism at work!!  Drive these guys out of the country!!

Stop.  Breathe.

Go back and read the title of this post.  Got it?  Okay, let’s proceed.

First, yes, this really happened in Houston, Texas.  Imagine the surprise and shock Imran Chunawala, manager of The Perfume Planet, received when he and his store were the targets of such outrage.  Why would he be outraged? you might ask.  Did he really think people would be fine with him commemorating one of the most tragic events on American soil?

Stop.  Breathe.

So why would the store manager be surprised?  Perhaps it’s because Imam Ali was not one of the 9/11/01 terrorists.  Imam (a religious title) Ali was a Muslim who was attacked and killed while praying in a mosque on the 19th day of Ramadan – in the 7th century.  He died two days later, the 21st day of Ramadan.  According to Wikipedia, he was the guy responsible for splitting the Muslim community into the Sunni and Shi’a branches.  He also happened to be the cousin and son-in-law to the prophet Muhammed.

According to Snopes, “Since the Islamic calendar is based on lunar months with years of 354 or 355 days, the months of the Islamic calendar move around from year to year with respect to the Gregorian calendar [the one used by most of the Western world].”  Every year during Ramadan, the Islamic community honors Imam Ali on the 21st day of Ramadan, the day of his death.  In 2009, Ramadan began on August 22 which put the 21st day of Ramadan on, you guessed it — September 11.

Even though the store owner has put up a new sign in an attempt to explain who it was they were honoring, the employees and owner of the store still remain the targets of hostility.

Hopefully, the point of all this is obvious.  For some odd reason, it’s easy to believe every little negative tale about our public enemy of the moment – whether it’s Muslims (who seem to bear the brunt of many such tales), Democrats, Obama, illegal immigrants, big shot corporate CEOs, or a myriad other choices that can change with the wind.  However, more often than not a little knowledge is, in many cases, a safe thing.  Let’s not be so quick to accept the latest tale of dastardly deeds or malicious motives.

Remember, look before you leap.


One Response

  1. Yes we need to be sure of what is said and how it is said.

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