9/11 and Islam Coming Of Age

By: Deji Yesufu

The story of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City in the year 2001 is an event that has redefined the history of the world. We speak today of the pre and post 9/11 days; just as we had pre and post World War I and II days. Interestingly a child that was born in 2001 will be 19 years old now. Just as such a child may be said to be coming of age, I believe that 9/11 redefined Islam as we know it today and brought it to maturity. In other words, you may say that Islam came of age after 9/11. As the title of my essay indicates, this piece would be identifying factors that have brought Islam into a new light and why the world cannot easily push Islam to the backburners any more. Just as we once had the Communist/Capitalist tussle for relevance in the world in the 20th century, the new normal in our world today is how the world deals with the Islamic ideology. For those who were too young to remember September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, USA, I would do a quick recap of those events – especially as I experienced them myself.

I was in my father’s house in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria, on September 11, 2001. I was finishing up at Ahmadu Bello University. I knew that I could not avoid an extra semester at the department of Electrical Engineering, so I reserved three courses along with the Math course, whose pre-requisite I had failed in 100 level and which put me a class behind my own class, as far Math courses was concerned. Since there was very little academic work to do, I went to the campus from home – which was quite some distance off campus. I had had a long nap that afternoon and having very little to do that evening, I switched on the television. Our local television was reporting breaking news. It was strange because NTA Kaduna of those days nearly almost never carried breaking news. But they did this one and it was obvious something serious was happening in the United States of America. The second plane had rammed into the second of the twin towers by the time I got into the news. After watching the news for about an hour, I stood up and took a long stroll around our neighborhood. Throughout the walk, I had that strange feeling that our world was not going to be the same again after that event. I had read a little on how the first and second World Wars began and I was almost certain that if these events do not leads to wide scale wars around the world, some countries will certainly feel the after effect of these terrorist attacks. Suffice to say here that I was serving in Yola, Adamawa State, in October 2002, when George W. Bush led American troops into Iraq. This was quickly followed by the invasion of Afghanistan. Those events have also led to the rise of other insurgencies in the world, including ISIS and Boko Haram.

Muslims Reaction to 9/11

The reaction of the Muslim world to the 9/11 attacks was varied. To be fair to them, most Muslim around the world condemned those attacks on the World Trade Center. The phrase “Islam is a religion of peace” came into greater emphasis and those making those emphasis were Muslims who were making every effort to distance themselves from the insurgents who carried out those terrorist attacks. Other reactions to the September 11 attacks were a little different. Some Muslims began to pay attention to the criticisms that have been levied against Muslim, mostly by Christian apologists, that Islam was a violent religion. Other Muslims saw the point in these emphases and it led their renouncing the Islamic faith entirely. In fact in recent times the violence of ISIS and other terrorist groups has led many more Muslims to renounce their faith. One Somali woman said that she accidentally stumbled on the video of Islamic State agents beheading an American Christian man and I right there and there she renounced Islam. This lady went on to become a Christian. I should mention here though that majority of those who leave Islam, having witnessed violence in the religion, go on to become atheists. In spite of these reactions to the violence unleashed by terrorist groups in the name of Islam, most moderate Muslims maintain that Islam is a religion of peace and that both ISIS and Christian apologists are wrong in painting Islam as a violent religion.

Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian apologist, who was once a Muslim but who died of stomach cancer in 2017, said in an interview that Islam is susceptible to a wide range of sects or denominations within its fold because of the wide range of interpretation that Muslims around the world give to various verses of the Qur’an. There are verses in the Qur’an that teach peaceful co-existence between Muslims and other religions. There are also verses that teach the violent subjugation of other religions. Nabeel says that with the help of a large number of Hadiths, many of whom are trusted ones, any Muslim group can come to whatever conclusion they wish on how to practice their religion. So, ISIS and Boko Haram will take suras like Sura 9:5 and 9:29 as their central tenet and say that western civilization is haram and must be resisted with force of arms. While moderate Muslims will interpret those scriptures to teach the concept of a just war. These situations have however not left Islam vulnerable to various reactions to it around the world. To protect Muslim from attacks by those who may wish to react violently at Muslims due to the violence of terrorist groups, the word “Islamophobe” was coined. The word is used to protect moderate Muslims from harsh criticism; but it is also being used by some Muslim apologist to silence any criticism against Islam.

Christianity Coming of Age

It would interest Muslims to know that one of the blessings of civilization is the fact that everything in our world is being brought under scrutiny. There is no hiding for any ideology anymore; as many people are becoming specialists in digging into the hearts of different religion and bringing on them stringent criticism that is leaving these religion without a base. In the West, Christianity came under a similar situation and the result was bringing Christianity to maturity. In other words, Christianity came of age. Before the 18th century, there was almost no one that referred to himself as an atheist. However, with increase in learning, the Bible came under what is now known as higher criticism. The stories of creation, the flood, the exodus of the Jews and various other biblical anecdotes came under heavy criticism by scholars in European universities – the Germans leading the way in most of this study. The result was Christianity without cloths and many scholars and their students, who originally would have called themselves Christians, began to renounce the Christian faith. Thinkers and writers like Voltaire made anyone who called himself a Christian look stupid. The 19th century did not improve matters. In the middle of that great century, the book “Origin of Species” was written by Charles Darwin. Whatever was left of Christianity, after its attack by higher critics in German Universities, was stripped bare. Christians began to leave the faith in droves and those who remained, adopted the findings of Darwin and came up with what was called Liberal Theology. Christianity continued to suffer in the hands of Western Thinkers until Christian groups, like the fundamentalist, brought out statements of faith stating that in spite of recent developments in science, Christians still held to the inspiration, sufficiency, and veracity of the Bible. They were saying in essence that the Bible was true. These statements by the fundamentalists did not ease the mass exodus of individuals away from the Christian religion both in America and Europe. This is the reason why the West, rather than regarding itself as Christian nations today, would rather see themselves as secularists. When Christianity came of age in the West, most people renounced the faith and only those who had a true commitment to their religion remained. I believe that Islam is undergoing a similar thing – theirs however coming 300 hundred years after Christianity had encountered her first higher critics.

Holes in the Narrative

When Muslims and Christians debate, one of their points of debate remain the veracity of their individual revelations. It is an important point because religion stands and falls on the veracity of its revelation. Christians regard the Bible as God’s words and they follow God’s ways as stated in it. Muslims on their part hold the revelations of the Bible as true. They however teach that these revelations have been corrupted by the Jews and some early followers of Jesus. For this reason, God sent a new revelation through Muhammed and this revelation is written in the Qur’an. So, the point in Muslim and Christian debate centers on tracing the historical events through which each group gets their revelations. Christians agree that the original writings of the New Testament are non-existent today. This is because the early gospel writers wrote on papyri and other materials that could not withstand corrosion and time, and have since been destroyed. Fortunately, copies of copies have passed down through the centuries until we have the Bible as we do today. The problem, however, with copying manuscripts of scriptures is the matter of errors in the copies – as is expected in the transmission of any ancient manuscript. The result is the problem of textual variants in the copies of the Bible. Theologians hold that despite the presence of these variants, the central message of the Bible has remained unchanged.

The position that most Muslim apologists have held through the centuries, however, has been that the Qur’an, despite being an ancient manuscript, has been miraculously preserved by God from these errors and thus there are no variants of the Qur’an as far as the Qur’an is concerned. Muslims everywhere in the world, they teach, have only one Qur’an they read. This has been the narrative through the centuries and this has been a point that Muslim scholars have used to prove the veracity of the Qur’an over the Bible.

All of this changed when two months ago, a respected Muslim scholar who had studied in Cambridge, Imam Yasir Qadhi, was on the YouTube channel of a Muslim apologist called Mohammed Hijab. Their discussion had covered various topics in the Islamic religion and then Hijab put a question to Imam Qadhi regarding the issues of textual variants in the Qur’an. At first, Qadhi made it clear that he does not discuss those sensitive matters in public; instead he asked Hijab to join a lecture he was having on it soon. But Mohammed Hijab was not going to let the matter lie low. He continued to press Qadhi on the question and then finally Imam Qadhi made the now famous “holes in the narrative” comment. He said in essence that the usual narrative that there are no errors in the Qur’an was not true. He said that his studies at Cambridge had revealed to him that there were indeed mistakes in the various Qua’ranic manuscripts around the world – just like any other ancient manuscript in the world. He also held the position that these variants do not change the message of the Qur’an but it was not true that there were no textual variants of the Qur’an. “There are holes in the narrative” that were passed down to Muslim today, Qadhi said. While Qadhi’s statement is consistent with the position of most modern scholars on all ancient manuscripts, it questions the veracity of the statement that the Qur’an had been miraculously preserved through the centuries.

This revelation, made on YouTube, plunged the Muslim world into dis-array. Many of Mohammed Hijab’s fans began to send him private messages saying that they were losing faith in Islam, as the narrative passed to them by their teachers were not entirely correct. The backlash was so hard that Hijab removed the video from his YouTube channel but the harm had been done. Christian apologists around the world had copied the video and many of them were coming to whatever conclusions they wanted on the matter.

It is important to note here though that most Christian apologists knew of the various textual variants of the Qur’an. In fact a lady, Hatun Tash, who is Turkish by birth, but now a Christian, has been able to collate no less than 32 different Qur’ans that are used by Muslims around the world. The differences in these Qur’ans are not mere differences in words like we may have between the KJV and the NIV; but whole differences in statements that could even affect the Islamic theology as a whole. All of these events are bringing Islam to maturity and helping Muslims to decide on whether or not their religion is worth adhering to. As I have written earlier, Christianity has undergone its own scrutiny and the result is secular western nations. Islam is just about beginning its own.

Islam versus Christianity

As Muslims continue to grapple with modern thinkers, they also are coming to terms with Christians who have, since Mohammed’ days, been pointing at the veracity of the Islamic religion. As far as I am concerned the debate over the veracity of the Muslim and Christian revelations has reached a stalemate. Both religions are coming to terms with the fact that there are variants in their manuscripts; and along with these variants come possible errors that can alter the core messages of their faith. One thing that however distinguishes the two faiths, for me, is a recent discovery that I stumbled on while watching David Wood – a Christian apologist that teaches on Islam a lot. This distinction has something to do with the central persons in the two faiths. Christianity has Jesus Christ and Islam has Mohammed. The Bible and the Qur’an teach that Jesus lived as an upright man. He lived perfectly and righteously, such that even his enemies could not fault him.

Understandably, the Bible has no record of Mohammed since Mohammed as born about AD570. The Qur’an however does. Muslims hold to various Hadiths – some of which are trusted and others are not. Investigating the life of Mohammed even in the trusted Hadiths brings up a revelation on the central figure of the Qur’an that is actually not very wholesome. In fact some of the things that these Hadiths record Mohammed doing are actually unprintable. I need to say that when Christian apologists bring these actions of Mohammed before Muslims, there are usually two reactions: the first is that some Moslems leave the Islamic religion, while others just ignore the information. This was the turning point for Nabeel Qureshi too. Nabeel had spent two and a half years studying the Christian sources on Jesus and he came to the conclusion that Jesus indeed died and resurrected, obtaining eternal salvation for sinners. When he used the same criteria for Mohammed and the Qur’an, his faith fell apart.

While moderate Muslims will not carry guns and kill critics of their religion, they still manifest an aspect of violence: they shut off the dissemination of these information; some of them label those of us doing these investigations Islamophobes; other even go to the extent of calling us fundamentalists who are not any different from ISIS and Boko Haram. These actions, they fail to see, are simply suppressed violence; all aimed at keeping Islam under wraps and ensuring that the age-old narratives are kept going. Imam Yasir Qadhi has told us already that there are holes in these narratives and with Islam coming face to face with modern scholarship, more and more of these holes will be discovered.

Christianity came of age and survived the onslaught. Islam is coming of age; will it survive in the hearts of its adherents? Only time will tell.

Text and Publishing is a blog that publishes articles on religion and the humanities. We would be pleased if you will “follow” our blog so that you may receive notifications the moment we publish new articles. Send your feedback to our articles on newdejix@gmail.com or leave a comment in the comment section below. Thank you for reading.

Posted by Deji Yesufu


  1. The problem of religion as compared to how it relates to God’s wish for mankind is its being politicized. The Bible has its revelation, the Quaran has it’s own. The interpretation of both revelation will continue and be varied until the end of the world. Individual opinion does not matter. Yorubas have a saying. Bi o se wu ni, ni a se nse imale eni. Which literally translates that we all have liberty to practice our religion the way we want. Another Yoruba saying nailed it. Olorun kan ni gbogbo wa sin, esin lo ya to si ira won.We are all worshipping the same God, it is the practice of religion that differs.
    There is part of this write up that is very interesting and which should teach all of us a lesson. When the current extremist Muslim say western culture is Haram. Did Islam evolve from Africa? No. It evolved from the heartland of the same western culture of which the home of Islam today Saudi Arabia was not a part of in 300AD.
    If we stop comparing religion but take the messages of the various revelations to heart, we would be better human being. God created us to pursue happiness not divisive things. Until we learn to pursue happiness and think less of our differences the happier human beings that we will be. God never created two human being to be the same. So is our thinking. Science with the miraculous discovery of DNA has proven that. May God help the world to know peace and have happiness.


    1. Thank you for the comment. But Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. The aim of the write up is evangelical: to show the errors of Islam and point at the truth of Christianity


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *