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We stand for greater love, interfaith understanding, harmony, and peace
Last weekend, as Christians observed Palm Sunday, powerful bomb blasts struck Coptic Christian churches in Egypt in an assault claimed by ISIS. The timing and brutality of the attacks were particularly shocking, as they violated not only the sanctity of Christian houses of worship but also a holy day that is sacred to Christians worldwide.
Once again, these attacks show the level of depravity and inhumanity which has characterized ISIS and other radical groups. As Muslims, people of all faiths, and leaders across the world swiftly and vigorously condemn these attacks, Muslim communities reaffirm the following values and principles that we believe are central to our religious understanding and practice:
- We affirm and uphold the sanctity of all human life, the taking of which is among the gravest of all sins.
- We affirm the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and speech.
- We affirm the right to security in one’s livelihood, profession, and residence.
- We believe that God created us with all the diversity of race, religion, language, and belief to get to know one another, not to despise or hate one another.
- We believe that Islam is above all a religion of peace and mercy, and that Muslims are obligated to model those traits in their lives and characters and to work for the good of our homeland and society, wherever that might be.
The three Abrahamic faiths share a long tradition and commonalities that are affirmed by numerous Qur’anic verses. The Qur’an repeatedly calls for respect for religious diversity and pluralism, as clearly emphasized in the following verse:
“For each of them, We have established a law, and a revealed way. And if God wished, God would have made you a single nation; but the intent is to test you in what God has given you. So let your goals be everything good. Your destiny, everyone, is to God, Who will tell you about that wherein you differed.” (Qur’an, 5:48)
The Qur’an specifically mentions the special status of “People of the Book,” which includes Jews and Christians:
“The Muslims, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the last day and do good have their reward with their Lord. There is nothing for them to fear; they will not sorrow.” (Qur’an, 2:62)
The Qur’an also specifically demands that houses of worship and their worshippers be safeguarded:
“Had God not restrained one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, temples and mosques wherein God’s name is oft-mentioned would have been destroyed.” (Qur’an, 22: 40)
The Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Communities, signed last year in January, 2016, at a conference attended by hundreds of Muslim scholars and intellectuals from over 120 countries, reconfirmed Islam’s respect for minority faiths in Muslim-majority lands. The Declaration calls “upon representatives of the various religions, sects and denominations to confront all forms of religious bigotry, vilification, and denigration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promotes hatred and bigotry; and to affirm that it is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.
As we mourn the deaths from last week’s attack, we must strengthen our resolve to support such initiatives and renew our dedication to stand together in solidarity against the forces of hate and evil. We hope such heinous acts inspire us not to hatred and anger but rather to greater love, interfaith understanding, harmony, and peace.
Maha Elgenaidi, Executive Director of Islamic Networks Group (ING) & Hamza Yusuf Hanson, President of Zaytuna College.
ING is a non-profit organization based in San Jose with affiliates in 20 states across the country that are dedicated to religious literacy and interfaith engagement. Zaytuna College is the first liberal arts Muslim founded college based in Berkeley.
Additional signatories below. Please contact Communications Manager Tim Brauhn at [email protected] to add your name.
Council on American-Islamic Relations – San Francisco
Islamic Society of East Bay – (ISEB)
Muslim Community Association (MCA)
Muslim Community Association – East Bay (MCC)
SABA Islamic Center
San Ramon Valley Islamic Center (SRVIC)
South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA)
West Valley Muslim Association (WVMA)