The question that is lingering in the minds of millions of Americans and is played out over and over on the evening news is: “What was the real motive behind the outburst of shooting by Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s, the 39-year-old US-born Muslim and army psychiatrist, at the Fort Hood base last , killing 13 and wounding at least 30 people?” and as Gleen Glenwood reported in Salon ”A media orgy of rumors, speculation and falsehoods” . Everyone is looking for the truth about Mr. Nidal’s Hasan’s motive. This American Muslim, who spent most of his life training to analyze and understand people’s deeper motives, now has his motive thrust into the spotlight of the American collective judgment and 24/7 media hype to be questioned and scrutinized. “He didn’t like what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.” explained the make shift TV expert. Well, most Americans share Major Nidal’s view of those wars; however, because he is a Muslim, Major Nidal Hasan’s disapproval of the wars must be suspicious and be part of salacious motive. The cover of Time magazine has a cover with a picture of Midal with the word “Terrorist?” over his eyes. Unconfirmed report stated that “ He shouted Allah Akbar” before the shooting. Is he a mad man or a terrorist, Everyone is demanding a real answer. ‘What do you think about his motive?” a national newspaper reporter casually asked me in a telephone interview, as if Muslim Americans should have a different insight about the motives of other Muslims that is not available to the rest of the world, call it the “Muslim man burden” Muslims, I had to admit in fact, have special psychic skill not available to other humans, and, therefore, can explain the misbehaving Muslims all over the world? That we really do all know what motivates the 1.5 billon of our brothers and sisters, those apparently chronically angry Muslims who are committing suicide and burning the American flag on the streets of Kabul, Baghdad, Karachi, Gaza, Cairo and, of course, Major Nidal Hasan? In spite of the fact that he is an American, born here, educated here and that he committed a crime that is, tragically, not all that uncommon in America—even worthy of its own slang term “going postal”—somehow, when it comes to American Muslims, “going postal” becomes “going Islamic.”
“What first came to your mind when you heard the news of the shooting in Texas?” came the interviewer’s sympathetic voice over the phone. To be honest with you, the question of Major Nidal Hasan’s real motive has been going through the mind of millions of Muslims ever since. I thought to myself perhaps Major Nidal Hasan ‘s hidden motive as in all American Muslims arrived at birth and was carried as a burden all his life, the call for “Jihad” that started nagging him once he was given the name Nidal—which means ‘jihad’ or political struggle in Arabic. What is in his name summaries very much Major Nidal Hasan life, struggling for “jihad” This name was given as it is customary in the Arab/Muslim culture to him by his Palestinian parents as inspirational guidance for his future life, his parents who had lived under the Israeli occupation for years before moving to the U.S. The name itself was a heavy burden that Major Nidal had struggled all his ordinary life , one that was apparently devoid of real love, family or friends, a lonesome life for a lonely man because of his ethnicity and religion, teased frequently by his peers and friends whose trust he never gained. His name never allowed him to brush his past aside and forget. ‘Nidal”, Nidal’, Nidal”, people keep calling for Nidal everywhere he goes. A constant reminder to what is required of him as a Palestinian American. Did he think that his parents didn’t name him “Nidal’ just to sit down and listen to other people struggle and forget his own? Major Nidal who never risked anything in his life, made all the right decision easy decisions and became a doctor, his parents given name always reminding him of their suffering in Palestine through occupation and humiliation, played out every evening as a child listening to his parents bed stories about the Palestinian suffering and the Muslim victims milieu. The pictures of Palestinians children hanging on his bedroom wall , their faces full of anguish and fear a reminder of that and whispered to him at night to never forget, on his bedroom growing up there wasn’t any picture of a tree, a bird or even a naked woman to comfort him at night when he was finally alone and no one is looking. Growing up with a conscious that had been soaking terrible images of his people demise and suffering like a thick sponge immersed in dirty water. Verses of the Quran framed on his living room wall asked of him? To fight those who are trying to kill you where you face them. And now as a growing up military man, It must have been hard for him to hear all those terrible tragic stories happening to his Muslim brothers all over the world.; throwing salt inside his tragic wounds.
American people as children were shield from being exposed to the horrible of their own wars to protect their sensitivities , Nidal wasn’t as lucky, he was seeing it all and heard it all first hand; The heavy burden of an American Muslim psychiatrist who on a daily basis listened to the harrowing stories of his American countrymen and comrades describing horrible events, most likely committed against his Muslim brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan. All his life he has helped Americans with their tortured souls, but he never really came to term and helped his own.
Every time he hears his name “Nidal” he always asks himself about the real “Nidal”, the real struggle. A nagging question that hijacked his mind and his memories and never left him in peace. The suffering of the unfulfilled, unremarkable man, who never before had had the courage or had taken such a great risk, who with one outrageous action, could turn his ordinary miserable life into an extraordinary and infamous one, a lonely life was scarified to be part of a bigger than his own mundane one, the paradise is now, with plenty of virgins are waiting for the man whom himself was a 39 year old virgin.
Ahmed Tharwat/ Host of Arab American TV show BelAhdan
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