What Can Muslims do to Reclaim their beautiful Religion?

In response to the murders of 12 journalists in Paris last week, a group of leading Muslim political and academic leaders including Farahnaz Ispahani, former member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a Director here at Americans for Democracy & Justice in Pakistan, signed a statement published in The New York Times on Sunday.

The statement reads:

As people observe beheadings and savagery by ISIS, female genital mutilations and honor killings, the abduction of girls by Boko Haram, the execution of innocents in Iran, the slaughtering and enslaving of Christians in Egypt and Africa and Yazidis in Iraq, rampant anti-Semitism and other crimes against humanity committed by those who claim to represent Islam, many people are understandably asking:

  • What is the true nature of Islam?
  • Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful?

If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then the quest for an Islamic state cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful Creator.

Neither jihadism nor Islamism permit the equality of all humans irrespective of their race or religion and should therefore be rejected. Our denial and our relative silence must stop!

It is the duty of us Muslims to actively and vigorously affirm and promote universal human rights, including gender equality and freedom of conscience.

As our Holy Qu’ran states (4:135):

“Believers! Conduct yourselves with justice, bearing true witness before God, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, or your kin.”

We must engage in and promote reforms where necessary, including an honest and critical reinterpretation of scripture and shariah law used by Islamists to justify violence and oppression.

We must also recognize and loudly proclaim that the quest for any and all “Islamic State(s)” has no place in modern times. Theocracy, particularly, Islamism, is a proven failure. The path to justice and reform is through liberty.

It is also our responsibility to reclaim the faith we love from these monsters, forcefully rejecting and combating all components of their ideology.

If we Muslims believe that “true” Islam, genuinely aligned with the will of the Creator, is fundamentally peaceful, comprehensively merciful and objectively just, then it is our duty to do what is necessary to live and promote an Islam that is based in liberty and worthy of being called a beautiful religion.

We must seek out necessary support from non-Muslim allies in order to be successful in our work.

We the undersigned are Muslims who embrace a pluralistic interpretation of Islam, rejecting all forms of oppression and abuses committed in the name of religion or culture and particularly Islamism.

We are joined by non-Muslim allies who sign here to affirm their commitment as Americans to support those Muslims and all people of conscience who courageously speak out against these abuses and who advance reforms within our community.

  • Sherkoh Abbas, Chair Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, Washington, D.C.
  • Tarek Fatah, Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress, Toronto, Canada
  • Farid Ghadry, Reform Party of Syria, Washington, D.C.
  • Iftikhar A. Hai, President, United Muslims of America, San Francisco, CA
  • Dr. Tawfik Hamid, International Center for Countering Radicalism, Oakton, CA
  • Husain Haqqani, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to U.S., Washington, D.C.
  • Jamal Hassan, Council for Democracy and Tolerance, Baltimore, MD
  • Sheikh (Dr.) Usama Hassan, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
  • Farzana Hassan, Director, Muslim Canadian Congress, Toronto, Canada
  • Arif Humayun, President, Circle of Peace, Portland, OR
  • Farahnaz Ispahani, Director, Americans for Pakistan, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, AZ
  • Naser Khader, Former Member of Danish Parliament, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Zainab Zain Khan, United Nations Association, Chicago, IL
  • Courtney Lonergan, Arizona Interfaith Movement, Phoenix, AZ
  • Hasan Mahmud, General Secretary, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
  • Salim Mansur, PhD., Professor, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
  • Maajid Nawaz, Co-Founder and Chairman, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
  • Raheel Raza, President, Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
  • Munir Pervaiz, President, Muslim Canadian Congress, Mississauga, Canada
  • Oubai Shahbandar, Principle, Dragoman Partners, Washington, D.C.
  • Jalal Zuberi, MD, Associate Professor, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
  • Ahmad Vanya, Fellow, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, San Jose, CA

NYT Statement by Muslim leaders

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