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Islamic Peacemaking Since 9/11

Note: Bear in mind while you are reading that there are over a billion muslims in the world. This entry is about 99.98% of them.

Thanks to Docuticker for pointing out this new report from the government sponsored United States Institute of Peace:

January 2009 | Special Report No. 218 (12 pages)

Islamic Peacemaking Since 9/11

David Smock and Qamar-ul Huda

pdf icon Download full PDF report

Summary

  • Muslims in general and Muslim leaders particularly have often been severely criticized for not more energetically condemning the violent acts of Muslim extremists.
  • Violent extremists are on one edge of the Muslim community. They are counter-balanced by a growing movement of Muslim peacemakers.
  • Equally as notable as Islamic militancy but less noted are Muslims’ 1) widespread condemnation of terrorism and other violent acts; 2) promotion of interfaith dialogue; 3) education of Muslim youth and reeducation of extremist Muslims; and 4) promotion of peaceful conflict resolution.

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Here are a couple of examples of Muslim condemnation of terrorism since 9/11. All three are new to me:

The highest judicial body for Islam in the United States, the Fiqh Council of North America, declared in 2005, “The Fiqh Council of North America wishes to reaffirm Islam’s absolute condemnation of terrorism and religious extremism. . . . Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram, or forbidden, and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not ‘martyrs.’ The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, states: ‘Whoever kills a person [unjustly] . . . it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he has saved all mankind.’ (Quran, 5:32)” In 2007, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa, a legal edict, declaring:

. . . in the spirit of this season of Thanksgiving . . . the Fiqh Council of North America states its unequivocal and unqualified condemnation
of the destruction and violence committed against innocent men and women . . . . All acts of terrorism are forbidden in Islam. It is forbidden for a Muslim to cooperate or associate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence. It is the duty of Muslims to report to enforcement authorities any threat which is designed to place a human being in harm’s way, bringing them before a competent court of law and in accordance with due process.

In 2007, the Muslim Council of Britain convened a meeting of more than two hundred Muslim leaders that issued this statement:

We hereby emphatically affirm, announce and declare that (1) We consider all terrorist acts that aim to murder and maim innocent human beings utterly reprehensible and abhorrent. There is no basis whatsoever for such acts in our faith. Islam, as a religion of peace, rejects terror and promotes peace and harmony. We urge Muslim organizations and institutions to exercise their Islamic duty to correct and dispel misinterpretations of our faith. (2) All Britons, Muslim and non-Muslim, should stand united against the threat of terrorism. We should not allow terrorists to divide us and polarize one community against another . . . . 3) Islam requires us to protect and safeguard the life of civilians. It is our collective duty to give the fullest support and cooperation to the police in helping to prevent acts of terror from taking place. Islam requires us to protect and safeguard the life of human beings.

These American and British statements were echoed in the Arab world. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Asheikh, stated on September 15, 2001, “Hijacking planes, terrorizing innocent people and shedding blood constitute a form of injustice that can not be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts.”

There are more condemnations, but I thought pull out two that took place after the Iraq war started were particularly noteworthy.

The report also talks about Muslim groups working on peace, living in the modern world and women’s rights like this one:

Sisters in Islam (SIL) is a young Malaysia-based organization that advocates against discrimination and educates women about their legal rights. Through campaigns, legal clinical training, grassroots projects, and workshops, SIL informs women of their rights and ways in which the law is abused or misinterpreted against them. Emphasizing the equality of rights granted through the Islamic tradition, SIL has resisted conservative forces that want to limit women’s participation in the public sphere and their ability to express their voices in public debates.

The report is only 12 pages long and well worth reading, especially you believe Islam to be a monolithic belief system. It is no more monolithic the other Abrahamic faiths of Judaism and Christianity.

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