Sgt. Fahad Kamal of Houston, center, prays during Friday prayer...

Sgt. Fahad Kamal of Houston, center, prays during Friday prayer services at the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen in Killeen, Texas. (November 6, 2009) Credit: AP

The faithful at the Masjid Darul Quran mosque in Bay Shore Friday expressed shock at the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas - and hope the killings will not perpetuate stereotypes about Muslims.

Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who allegedly shot 13 people dead and injured 30, is a Muslim who grew up in Virginia.

"As a Muslim, as a physician, it's a horrible day for me," said Dr. Hafiz Rehman, a pediatrician in Bay Shore. "We are here to save lives, not take lives."

The president of the mosque, Muhammed Athar Suhail, took the unusual step of reading a statement at the end of Friday afternoon prayers, the largest of the week and which attracted about 400 men and 150 women.

The mosque "stands together with our fellow citizens in denouncing the cowardly act on innocent people in Fort Hood, Texas," he said.

He added that "no religion could ever justify such an atrocious act of violence. Allah says in His holy book, the Quran, that the 'killing of an innocent person is like killing the whole of humanity,' so any such murderous act is totally against the teaching of Islam."

Some in the congregation said, in fact, they thought it was unfair for the killings to be linked in public discussion to their religion, and that it was a form of stereotyping. "You can have these bad apples in any religion - Muslim, Christian, Jewish," said Iftikhar Khan, 41, a family medicine doctor at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. "He was a psychiatrist but he behaved like a psychotic."

Added Najma Grimaldi, of Commack, "It should not be based on the religion. It should be based on the individual."

Still, Habeeb Sheriff, 50, a banker from Brentwood, said the massacre was "heartbreaking. It's sad to see one of your own do something like this."

Bilal Hito, 24, a store owner from West Islip, also said he hopes the killings don't contribute to stereotypes about Muslims. He said he runs a Web site, yourmuslimneighbor.com, through which he gives out free Qurans and pamphlets about Islam, and arranges visits to mosques.

"There are a lot of Muslims in the United States - they are part of society," said Khan, the Southside Hospital doctor. "Nobody wants to destroy their own home."

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