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To Believe in God and Do Good Deeds

January 6, 2006

Here’s a story to confound some stereotypes:

On Friday, as Staff Sgt. Ayman Taha, 31, was preparing a cache of munitions for demolition in the town of Balad, the explosives detonated and he was killed, the Pentagon said yesterday.

It is "a very terrible thing," Abdel-Rahman Taha said. "He was a son, and a very special son."

The father added: "If you believe in God and you realize that this is God’s will . . . it makes it a lot easier."

There is also consolation, the father said, in feeling that "this is something Ayman wanted to do."

A family friend, Nada Eissa, agreed. "No, he didn’t have to do it," she said. "This is something he wanted to do."

Ayman Taha was born in Sudan, into an academically accomplished international family. Both parents hold doctorates. When his father worked for the World Bank, Ayman attended elementary school in McLean. He went to secondary school in England, then received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s in economics from the University of Massachusetts, where he was working toward a PhD…

He said his son was "definitely" patriotic and believed "in the mission."…

"He strongly agreed that what they were doing is good and that they were helping people in the Middle East to get out of the . . . historic bottleneck" that had confined them…

In economics, Taha’s interest was in development. "He felt very strongly about making a difference," and "I think he felt that people like him" were needed for it, Eissa said.

His father said Taha was a devout Muslim who believed that "the message of Islam is very simple . . . to believe in God and do good deeds."

"He believed that what he was doing were the good deeds Islam is asking for."

Wow. A Muslim from Sudan, from an affluent family, with an international upbringing, decides that joining the Army Special Forces is, for now, a better way of helping people (and serving his God) than getting a Ph.D. And he has family and friends more or less at peace with his decision, even though it cost him his life. My heart goes out to him and his amazing family.

How I wish we heard more stories like this, and I bet we would if news was slow and his Father was camping out in front of the President’s ranch protesting his son’s death and demanding that we act in Sudan instead of killing "freedom fighters". After all, a grieving parent has "absolute moral authority" correct? Only if they’re angry, only if they oppose the war.

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