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(San Jose, CA 05/05/2010) – ING (Islamic Networks Group) joins American Muslims and all Americans in voicing outrage at the latest in a string of attacks or plots in recent months that have been perpetrated by Muslims. Saturday’s plot to explode an SUV in Times Square was foiled due to the bravery of New York residents – including a Senegalese Muslim Aliou Niasse, who was the first to notice the smoking car – and the swift work of law enforcement agencies. Plots or attacks such as this that target innocent people are nothing less than hiraba, an Arabic word that means “sowing corruption on earth.” Hiraba is strictly condemned by the Qur’an in the strongest terms, as is the taking of innocent lives, one of the most egregious crimes in Islam. This heinous strategy of targeting innocent civilians going about their lives has become the hallmark of groups claiming to represent Islam against their fellow countrymen and co-religionists in places like Iraq and Pakistan. We support all efforts to both counter the ideology that twists Islamic teachings and sanctions prohibited actions, and prevent the reoccurrence of such unspeakable acts. We applaud the efforts of organizations such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council which is working with law enforcement agencies in concrete ways to combat extremism through its recommendations in a report titled, Forging an Effective Counterterrorism Enterprise between Muslim Americans and Law Enforcement.
For those who are still not clear about the Islamic position on terrorism, we reference the numerous and repeated statements and condemnations of Muslim scholars across the world since 9/11. A small sampling of such statements includes:
- A position paper by the largest American Muslim membership organization, Islamic Society of North America, titled ISNA Position Against Terrorism and Religious Extremism.
- Videotaped statements by American Muslim scholars titled, American Muslim Scholars Speak Out Against Religious Extremism or Terrorism.
- Religious edicts or fatwas by the following groups and scholars:
- American Fiqh Council titled: Fatwa Against Terrorism which was signed by both religious leaders and organizations.
- Senior Saudi cleric, Salman Al Odeh, who notes that most terror victims are Muslims.
- A recently released 600 page tome on the topic by Pakistani scholar Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, which is said to be the most detailed and comprehensive case against Islamic extremism authored by a Muslim
Simultaneously, American Muslims and organizations across the country are engaged in an unprecedented level of interfaith work and cooperation, as well as service projects in their local communities. Additionally there are a plethora of initiatives and organizations founded by American Muslims solely for the purpose of promoting tolerance and understanding between American Muslims and people of other faiths at the grassroots level. These include the efforts of our own organization, ING (Islamic Networks Group) and its affiliates around the country where programs such as the Islamic Speakers Bureau and the Interfaith Speakers Bureau work to foster understanding and mutual respect among religious groups while modeling civil discourse and interfaith dialogue for the greater community.
American Muslims are also involved with people of multiple faiths in academic programs such as the Macdonald Center at Hartford Seminary, the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown, Stanford’s Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, and the Graduate Theological Union Center for Islamic Studies. As Munir Jiwa, director of the GTU CIS states on its website: “At the GTU, pluralism is not only a topic for scholarship, but a method of practice, actively engaged through intercultural and interfaith dialogue and social action.”
Other inspiring initiatives include the 2008 conference convened at Yale: titled Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed: Implications for Christians and Muslims. The conference was an outgrowth of the 2007 publication of the groundbreaking statement, A Common Word Between Us and You, an open letter to Christian leaders and communities from 138 influential Muslim clerics representing every school and sect of Islam from around the world. The document states that what unites Christians and Muslims is their common commitment to loving God and neighbor. Similar initiatives are taking place between American Muslims and Jews in efforts such as the Weekend of Twinning of Mosques and Synagogues that continue to take place across the country, scheduled to take place this year during the first weekend of November.
While the terrorists and their ilk aim to sow division and fear, it is up to American Muslims and their organizations to counter such attempts by challenging extremist ideology, working with law enforcement to prevent such attacks that harm all Americans, and help facilitate dialogue and cooperation between people of all faiths. While recent events in New York give us reason to pause for a moment, we must not let such acts derail the important and long term initiatives and accomplishments that have at their core the desire to work for mutual understanding and peace, and create a more harmonious world for ourselves and our children.