Muslims against terrorism

Many otherwise intelligent people say there is something in the Islamic religion that is conductive to terrorism.  When it is pointed out to them that very few of the world’s 1 billion Muslims have engaged in acts of terrorism, they fall back on “failure to denounce.”  Here are some examples of statements and actions by Muslims against terrorism.

Terrorists bombed Coptic Christian churches in Egypt on New Year’s Day of 2011.  Shaykh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, issued a statement which read in part:

Shaykh Ali Gomaa

Terrorism, therefore, cannot be the outcome of any proper understanding of religion. It is rather a manifestation of the immorality of people with cruel hearts, arrogant souls, and warped logic. It is thus with great sadness and outrage that we witness the emergence of this disease in our nation with the recent bombing outside a church in Alexandria that killed tens of Egyptian citizens. There is no doubt that such barbarism needs to be denounced in the strongest of terms, and opposed at every turn.

Just as importantly, we must counter the deviant beliefs that underpin such gross transgressions. Despite their confused claims, terrorists are miscreants who have no legitimate connection to the pure Islamic way, whose history and orthodox doctrine are testaments to the Islamic commitment to tolerance, compassion and peace. The Quran is clear that “God has honored the children of Adam.” Islam therefore makes no distinction among races, ethnicities, or religions in its belief that all people are deserving of basic human dignity. Furthermore, Islam has laid down justice, peace and cooperation as the basic principles of interaction between religious communities, advising Muslims that the proper conduct towards those who do not show aggression towards us is to act with goodness and justice. Indeed, this is the way of the true Muslim, for “God loves the just.”

Click on On the New Year’s Day Church Bombing in Egypt for the full statement.

Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7.  This year Muslims joined them for worship to serve as human shields.  Here is a news account:

What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

Click on Ahram Online for the full article.

When Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, Pearl’s father invited Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf to be one of the speakers at Pearl’s memorial service at B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue in New York City.  Rauf said in part:

Faisal Abdul Rauf

We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind and soul Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.

If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one Mr. Pearl.

And I am here to inform you, with the full authority of the Quranic texts and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, that to say La ilaha illallah Muhammadun rasulullah is no different.

It expresses the same theological and ethical principles and values.

Click on Pearl Memorial Service to read Imam Rauf’s full eulogy

Here are links to some collections of statements by Muslim leaders denouncing al Qaeda and terrorism.

Muslim Denunciations of al-Qaeda and Terrorism

Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks

Islamic Statements Against Terrorism

How American Muslims Really Responded to September 11

The Myth of Muslim Failure to Condemn Terror

The video was produced by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an American Muslim community organization founded in 1988, for its members.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council last year reported on terror plots that have been foiled with the assistance of American Muslims.  Click on the link below for highlights.

Terror Plots Foiled With the Assistance of the American Muslim Community

Of course I don’t deny the existence of terrorists, repressive governments and dangerous religious fanatics who say they are acting in the name of Islam.  There are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world and they’re not all angels, any more than Christians, Jews or humanists are.  I do deny that there is anything inherent in Islam that automatically makes a Muslim my enemy.

The opposite stereotype also is false.  Not all Christians, Jews or humanists are “crusaders” who want to invade majority-Muslim countries and kill civilians indiscriminately.  Many in the West have good will toward Muslims.  When the 9/11 attacks occurred, William Sinkford, the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, called on UUs to help stand watch over mosques to prevent attacks and vandalism.  Here in Rochester, there is active interfaith dialogue between the local Jewish and Muslim communities, and we have an annual interfaith Thanksgiving service in which Christians, Jews, Muslims and UUs participate.  I am sure Rochester is not unique in that regard.

[Added 4/21/11]  Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Heroes and Martyrs Remembrance Authority, honors the Muslim Albanians who during World War Two rescued Jews from the Holocaust.  Click on Besa: A Code of Honor to read about Yad Vashem’s exhibition on this historical event.

[Update 1/11/11]  Shaykh Ali Gomaa has lectured and written about Islam’s message of peace, compassion and tolerance.  Click on Do we need “A Common Word”? for excerpts from a speech he gave at Cambridge University in England in 2008.  Click on Islam and modernity for a 2010 essay about the Muslim tradition emphasizing its liberal and progressive elements.

It is true that Islam has illiberal and regressive aspects, as do Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, other religions and, for that matter, the major secular ideologies.  As with individual human beings, no group of adherents of any of these creeds are completely good or completely bad.  None of these religions or philosophies is going to go away any time soon, so it behooves us to look for things in other religions and philosophies that offer a common ground of understanding.

[Update 3/12/11]  A new survey shows that mosque attendance by American Muslims is correlated with identification with the United States and participation in American civic life.

Click on Muslim American survey for the text of the survey.

Click on Mosques and American Identity for a summary and comment by Adam Serwer of The American Prospect magazine.

[Added 5/4/11]  Click on The Muslim World Sounds off on Bin Laden’s Demise for a roundup of reactions of Muslim political leaders by Juan Cole, professor of Middle East history at the University of Michigan.

Click on Osama bin Laden is Dead for reaction by writers on the MuslimMatters web site.

Click on Standing United Against Terrorism and Al Qaeda and Closing the Chapter on “Benefit of Doubt” to Terrorists for comments from 2009 on the MuslimMatters site.

[Added 8/12/11]  Al Jazeera reported on British Muslim efforts to preserve order in the face of a wave of rioting and looting.

On Monday evening when London suffered its worst looting in living memory I watched as a well marshaled team of volunteers wearing green fluorescent security vests marked ‘East London Mosque’ took to the streets of Tower Hamlets to help protect shops and communities from gangs of looters.  This was the most visible manifestation of their pro-active response to fast moving and well co-ordinated teams of looters.  Less visible was the superb work of Muslim youth workers from Islamic Forum Europe who used the same communication tools as the looters to outwit and preempt them on the streets.

While senior Westminster politicians started to pack and rush back to London from foreign holidays I watched Lutfur Rahman, the Muslim mayor of Tower Hamlets, offering calm leadership and support in the street as gangs of looters were intercepted and prevented from stealing goods in his presence.

Most important to emphasize is the extent to which everyone in Tower Hamlets was a beneficiary of streetwise, smart Muslims acting swiftly to protect shops, businesses and communities against looters.  It is often wrongly alleged that Muslims lack any sense of civic duty towards non-Muslims and especially towards the LGBT community.  I wish peddlers of that negative anti-Muslim message had been present to see how all citizens in Tower Hamlets were beneficiaries of Muslim civic spirit and bravery on Monday night.

via Al Jazeera English.

[Added 8/14/11]

Please join with me in commemorating a group of three British Muslim martyrs. Seriously.

Haroon Jahan, Abdul Nasir, and Shazad Ali died Tuesday night in Birmingham’s impoverished Winson Green area.  After two days of rioting, looting, and casual arson, mainly by black gangs, the local community despaired of seeking help from a police force that was not making the slightest effort to intervene to defend them.  As the small businessmen and shopkeepers of the area, the local South Asian community had most to lose.  Organizing from the local mosque, they dispatched groups of young volunteers to patrol the area.  A speeding car hit a group of these community defenders, killing three.  (The driver is charged with murder).  The victims were classic hard-working immigrants, one a mechanic, another ran a car wash.  In the words of one observer, “They lost their lives for other people, doing the job of the police.  They weren’t standing outside a mosque, a temple, a synagogue or a church – they were standing outside shops where everybody goes.  They were protecting the community as a whole.”

via The American Conservative.

[10/13/11]  The Egyptian military tried to incite Muslim violence against Christians.  Some Muslims resisted.

[10/23/11]  Click on Nonviolent soldier of Islam for a profile of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Muslim comrade of Mohandas K. Gandhi.

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4 Responses to “Muslims against terrorism”

  1. Tweets that mention Muslims against terrorism « Phil Ebersole's Blog -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ameena Meer, Park51 Programs and others. Park51 Programs said: http://bit.ly/e9oK98 muslims denounce violence, a wrap-up http://fb.me/t17mLGVX […]

    Like

  2. Azhar Says:

    Islam is truely a religion of peace, and brotherhood. It is thoroughly being misrepresented in media. This is time for muslims to rise and show the world their real face.

    Like

  3. Saif Qalum Says:

    A.A In the Name of Allah The Merciful. Peace to all. It would be so so insightful and aware if terrorism of every origin is exposed and in most cases as recent as the Arizona tragedy not to mention scores of non Muslim acts of terrorism in America that go under the definition radar right before our very eyes. Muslims against terrorism should as well site these murderous events as Acts of Terror or are you too reserving this term for Muslims only. Insah’ala I hope it is not the case and that you will identify and be against non Muslim terrorist attacks as well A.A.

    Like

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