A Muslim soldier’s objection to war

Pfc. Naser Abdo, a Muslim soldier from Texas, is a 20-year-old infantryman assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort … Continued

Pfc. Naser Abdo, a Muslim soldier from Texas, is a 20-year-old infantryman assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. He filed for conscientious objector status in June because he believes that his faith and the military simply don’t mix. The Army has deferred his scheduled deployment to Afghanistan and he awaits an answer from the army as to his status request.

Not surprisingly, this story is stirring up lots of emotion on issues ranging from freedom of religious expression to Islam in America to Islam in general, to the morality of war. One way to think about at least some of those issues is through the idea of conscientious objection — what does it mean and does Naser Abdo deserve to be granted that status?

The idea that one can be a conscientious objector, even in an all volunteer army, is something which should make Americans proud. The fact that the United States military doesn’t simply tell Pfc. Naser Abdo that he is stuck because he signed a contract demonstrates respect for precisely the kind of freedom of conscience which our service men and women fight to protect.

Whether such status should be extended to Pfc. Abdo should, as his own legal counsel admits, depend on his particular reasons for seeking C.O. status. If it is because he now finds himself opposed to all war, then it seems appropriate and likely that he will be granted the status he seeks and allowed to separate from the military. If however, he refuses to serve because he objects to this particular deployment, that’s another matter altogether.

While no soldier should be forced to fight a battle which they deem to be immoral, neither can soldiers make such decisions for themselves independent of some real consequences.

In fact, in cases I know more intimately which have to do with the Israeli military, when soldiers refuse specific orders or deployments ─ whether on religious, political or other ethical grounds ─ they spend time in jail, as I think they should.

I do not believe that such soldiers should be treated as evil, seen as cowardly, or even necessarily thought of as unpatriotic, and do not believe that it is likely Pfc. Abdo is any of those. But soldiers serving in democratic systems, especially volunteers, cannot make their own rules without threatening the governments they serve. Picking and choosing of that sort turns each service man or woman into an army of one – hardly what a nation needs in order to maintain its national security.


Brad Hirschfield An acclaimed author, lecturer, rabbi, and commentator on religion, society and pop culture, Brad Hirschfield offers a unique perspective on the American spiritual landscape and political and social trends to audiences nationwide.
  • Secular

    Mr. Hirschfeild writes”I do not believe that such soldiers should be treated as evil, seen as cowardly, or even necessarily thought of as unpatriotic, and do not believe that it is likely Pfc. Abdo is any of those”.I am calling him all of those and plus, Bigot, dim witted. He should be court martial-led and thrown into gallows for 30 years. Considering that he is 20 years old and volunteered to join the army he should have known that he might be called to go to one of the two ongoing wars. besides when does Islam preaches against war. It has been waging incessant war against rest of the humanity for the past 1400 years.

  • abrahamhab1

    This so-called soldier is an opportunist. He joined the army to collect easy money while out of harms way. He knew very well that he might be called on to fight any one of two ongoing wars yet played for time. The minute he was selected was the time for him to come out of the closet and expose his true intention. He is naively trying to opt out on the basis of an objection that is meaningless in an all- volunteer army.

  • abrahamhab1

    This goes to further substantiate the well known fact that is integral to the Muslim’s belief system which clearly states: A true Muslim owes his loyalty to none other than his Ummah (the Muslim Nation).

  • woodstock-41

    Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….Aummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…Amennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.. AND now SingEKLAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht-i.

  • yasseryousufi


  • daniel12


  • daniel12

    This is pathetic this story. We hear constantly that the majority of Muslims are moderate and not terrorists. We hear that the U.S. army distinguishes between terrorism and moderate Muslims. But this soldier, not a terrorist, equates the U.S. military with being anti-Islam, which means that he does not feel the U.S. distinguishes between terrorists and moderates, or he is simply an apologist for terrorism disguised as a moderate. This fits in perfectly with the wonder we have of moderate Muslims themselves not doing in the terrorists in their midst if they, the moderates, are so against terrorists as they say. Obviously, going by this soldiers example, the moderates in the Islamic world say one thing but do another: They say they are against terrorists but cannot be expected to fight them, in fact they apologize for them. Our soldier here is just more honest, equating the U.S. military with being anti-Islam. He is not a terrorist but reveals by his actions what so many moderates in the Islamic world reveal: That they are against terrorism on one hand but cannot be expected to join the U.S. in any concerted effort against terrorism.

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