Opinion: Reclaiming ‘Allahu akbar’ from its misuse by terrorists

Police investigate after a truck attack in New York City, USA - 01 Nov 2017
A bouquet of flowers leans against a police barricade in the bike path that was the scene of a terror attack in New York on Oct. 31.
(Justin Lane / EPA)

To the editor: Tuesday’s terror attack in New York was another despicable and vile act of cowardice at the hands of a deranged lunatic, and it is to be condemned in the strongest terms. (“Driver kills at least 8 in Manhattan in what officials say was a terrorist attack,” Oct. 31)

The alleged attacker is believed to be a Muslim, and some are pointing to the fact that he said, “Allahu akbar,” when he committed the act.

“Allahu akbar” is not a chant of violence or warfare. It is not a call to kill others in the name of Islam. To the contrary, it is a beautiful Arabic phrase that translates to “God is great.”

It is meant to be recited when we hear good news. I recited it at my wedding, when I got my first job and at the birth of my children. As a physician, I often say it when my patients get better from a treatment. I even recite it when my favorite sports team wins.


And I said it upon hearing the news that New York police officers were able to prevent additional casualties by neutralizing the attacker swiftly. In fact, “Allahu akbar” is recited more than 100 times a day in the five daily prayers performed by hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world.

I hope and pray that as we mourn the lives lost and stand in solidarity with the people of New York, we invoke God’s greatness for answering our humblest of supplications.

Ahsan M. Khan, Fullerton

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