By SALAM AL-MARAYATI Maj. Nidal Hasan's lawyer is considering an insanity plea as a strategy for his client. That might be the only legal option available to the man accused of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood. But Nidal Hasan should also consider a religious option: repentance.
He should take responsibility for his horrific act of violence. He should beg for forgiveness from God for murdering 13 people and injuring 31 more. He should apologize to the families of the victims. He should ask for forgiveness from his fellow members of the military, and from the American people, as he betrayed our entire nation—including Muslim-Americans who are paying the price for his shameful and un-Islamic actions.
Maj. Hasan is granted the presumption of innocence in our courts of law, be they civilian or military. His military-appointed lawyer will likely advise him not to confess to anything. Legally, that may be sound advice. But religiously that advice cuts against the grain of the divine value of justice. Maj. Hasan must take responsibility for committing two major sins in Islam—the murder of his fellow citizens and the violation of two oaths he took.
Maj. Hasan took an oath as a member of the U.S. military to defend our country. He also took a Hippocratic oath to protect his patients. The violation of these oaths is a violation of the Quranic principle which states that making a pledge to anyone is tantamount to making a pledge to God. The Quran states: "(Be not like those) who use their oaths as a means of deceiving one another" (16:92).
His now infamous PowerPoint presentation is rife with distortions of the Quran. Entitled "The Koranic Worldview As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military," it provides anything but a Quranic perspective. Maj. Hasan's critical fault in understanding the Quran was his failure to distinguish between two very important categories of verses: those tied to the specific context of seventh-century Arabia, and those that are absolute and permanent.
He ignores the Quranic mandates, for example, to stand for justice even if it is against your own interest, and to avoid transgression in the pursuit of justice. Yet the most troubling part of his presentation are his conclusions. One of them is: "Muslims are moderate (compromising) but God is not." There are two critical flaws in this one sentence.
First, to make any kind of declaration about God being unforgiving violates Islam's central teachings of mercy and compassion. The Quran makes it clear that human beings are meant to embody God's generous spirit. To argue otherwise is to violate God's will and Islam's goal of peacemaking.
Second, being moderate is about upholding religious values while working with other members of society for the greater good. Extremists believe they are compromising their Islamic values when living in the West. This is not true. And Muslim-haters oblige them with the converse, when they argue that the West should not tolerate Muslims. This is not just.
Maj. Hasan's hodgepodge of verses from the Quran and quotes from extremists left out the most important Quranic verse in his section on enjoining peace and forgiveness: "God invites you into the abode of peace" (10:25). Nor did he include the admonition by the Prophet Muhammad never to harm the innocent and never to target noncombatants.
Nidal Hasan doesn't just need legal support; he needs religious consultation that could help him see the enormity of his situation when he faces his Creator. Unfortunately, he may become an icon for violent extremism, leading other young people and civilians to their deaths.
So what should the U.S. government do? Consider allowing Muslim-American religious leaders to meet with Nidal Hasan. Muslim leaders could encourage him to repent. And they could engage Maj. Hasan on his deeply flawed understanding of Islam, explaining that the Quran is an instrument to take people from darkness to light, not the opposite.
Nidal Hasan is reportedly reading letters. I hope he reads this article, for his sake and for the sake of our country.
Mr. Al-Marayati is executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.