CAIRO â€“ Every morning, Sgt. Fahad Kamal reports for work at Fort Hood military base to treat ailing soldiers returning from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
â€œBeing a good Muslim means being good to everyone,â€ Kamal, a Muslim army medic, told The Dallas Morning News on Sunday, November 22.
The 26-year-old, who served in Afghanistan before moving to Fort Hood, spends most of his time treating his traumatized fellow soldiers.
On November 5, Kamal heard the news that a Muslim army physician went on a shooting rampage in the military base, killing 13 people and wounding 30. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim army psychiatrist, is the sole suspect in the shooting.
Immediately, Kamal joined his fellows in rescuing the wounded of the attack, refusing to leave the base to see if Fort Hood needed help treating victims. The Muslim combat medic said that Islam is against violence.
â€œThat man happened to be a Muslim, but in our religion, we donâ€™t condone such violence.â€
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Maj. Derrill Guidry, another Muslim soldier at Fort Hood, agrees.
â€œHe (Hasan) cracked under the pressure of his own fears,â€ he said.
â€œIn terms of Islam, he was just plain wrong.â€
The Fort Hood attack drew immediate condemnation from all leading American Muslim organizations, including Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
US Muslim groups have also launched a fund to help the families of the Fort Hood victims.
Since joining the army, Kamal has been open about his Islamic faith, answering his fellow soldiersâ€™ questions about the religion.
â€œJesus is one of our prophets as well,â€ Kamal answers his fellow soldiers, to their great surprise.
When Kamal first decided to sign up for the army, his mom initially refused, fearing discrimination.
â€œI was scared,â€ his mother, Nabeela, said.
â€œI didnâ€™t want him to be far from the family, because he is my oldest son. Father was going through chemotherapy at that time.â€
The mother had another concern.
â€œAre they going to look down on you?â€ she asked.
â€œMom, this is America,â€ Kamal answered.
At his military service, Kamal easily mixed with soldiers of other faiths, swapping gifts with friends at Christmas and feasting on both roast turkey and biryani on Thanksgiving Day.
Concerns have been growing about anti-Muslim backlash over the Fort Hood shooting.
US Army chief of staff General George Casey has warned that the attack could prompt a backlash against Muslim soldiers.
But Kamal says that he has never felt discriminated against as a Muslim in the US military.
He even sees the Army as more knowledgeable and tolerant of Islam than the general public.
The Muslim soldier recalls one day when he was bantering with a fellow soldier, when he ribbed his friend, saying â€œYou loser!â€
â€œYou terrorist!â€ the fellow soldier replied.
Though the soldier was joking, the drill sergeant called the guy out in front of everyone.
â€œYou window licker! You peanut butter eater! This Army is diverse,â€ the sergeant angrily told the soldiers at the drill.
In 2007, Kamal was deployed to a 15-month tour in war-torn Afghanistan.
During his tour in the southern province of Kandhar, Kamal packed a copy of Sura Yaseen, â€œthe heart of the Quran,â€ in the left chest pocket of his uniform.
The Muslim medic was valued by his commander for his native Urdu language skills, sometimes asking him to translate or brief troops on basic greetings.
He was also admired for remaining calm under pressure.
â€œI like helping people,â€ said Kamal. â€œIt feels good to see you made a difference.â€
During his tour, Kamal went on night patrols, where soldiers are encountered with improvised explosive devices.
â€œHeâ€™s a very patriotic individual, and he enjoys what he does,â€ Kamalâ€™s brother, Faez, 23, said.
Many Muslim soldiers have lost their lives during their military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At Arlington National Cemetery, amid a sea of crosses, there are crescents carved on tombstones. There are Muslim names on Iraq war memorials at Fort Hood.
â€œWeâ€™re serving and sacrificing alongside our fellow service members,â€ said Jamal Baadani, a Marine Corps veteran who founded the Association for Patriotic Arab Americans in Military after the 9/11 attacks.
There is no official count of Muslims serving in the 1.4 million-strong US armed forces because recruits are not required to state their religion.
But according to the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affair Council, there are more than 20,000 Muslims serving in the military.