Muslim Reform Movement Kicks Off in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser at the press conference for the Muslim Reform Movement
There is a buzz on social media today about a new Muslim Reform Movement, and any of you are wondering what this is all about. Here is some background:
The Paris terrorism attacks seemed to be the last straw for many Muslims like us who abhor violence in the name of our faith. So we decided to do something about radical Islamist extremism growing by the day and threatening the future of our next generations.
A group of reform-minded Muslims gathered in Washington, D.C. for a brainstorming session. While we were there, the San Bernardino terror attacks took place, and we quickly realized that we have reached the tipping point. This made our work even more urgent.
This initiative was started by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, an ex-naval officer of the US Navy and now a physician. He invited thinkers, academics, activists and two imams from Copenhagen, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Portland to gather for a 24-hour summit.
We discussed and debated what we could do to go beyond words and start taking some action.After intense talks for two days, in which we debated terminology, ideas and theology, we came up with a declaration and a course of action.
On Dec. 4, we jointly presented the declaration at a press conference hosted at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.:
Following the press conference, some of us went to a place founded by the most diabolical country in the world which funds terrorism and is the root of our problems: the Saudi-funded mosque in Washington DC. Here, we posted the first declaration on the door – despite threats and intimidation from the administration.
A few brave men from our group led the way for us as we reclaimed our first space – three women prayed in the main section of the mosque. This is ground breaking not just for all mosques but particularly for this one. We were nearly arrested, but we persevered and left the stamp of the Muslim Reform Movement on their grounds.
The declaration is noted below with names of the signatories. This is a work in progress and our aim is to invite all our friends and neighbors – people of faith and those of no faith – to join our movement, because we can’t do this alone.
The time has come that when people ask, “Where are the Muslim voices?” everyone should be able to say “here they are!”
MUSLIM REFORM MOVEMENT
We are Muslims who live in the 21st century. We stand for a respectful, merciful and inclusive interpretation of Islam. We are in a battle for the soul of Islam, and an Islamic renewal must defeat the ideology of Islamism, or politicized Islam, which seeks to create Islamic states, as well as an Islamic caliphate. We seek to reclaim the progressive spirit with which Islam was born in the 7th century to fast forward it into the 21st century. We support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by UN member states in 1948.
We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. Facing the threat of terrorism, intolerance, and social injustice in the name of Islam, we have reflected on how we can transform our communities based on three principles: peace, human rights and secular governance. We are announcing today the formation of an international initiative: Muslim Reform Movement.
We have courageous reformers from around the world who will outline our Declaration for Muslim Reform, a living document that we will continue to enhance as our journey continues. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.
A. Peace: National Security, Counterterrorism and Foreign Policy
1. We stand for universal peace, love, and compassion. We reject violent jihad. We believe we must target the ideology of violent Islamist extremism in order to liberate individuals both in Muslim-majority societies and the West from the scourge of oppression and terrorism.
2. We stand for the protection of all people of all faiths and non-faiths who seek freedom from dictatorships, theocracies and Islamist extremists.
3. We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.
B. Human Rights: Women’s Rights and Minority Rights
1. We stand for human rights and justice. We support equal rights and dignity for all people, including minorities. We support the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
2. We reject tribalism, castes, monarchies, and patriarchies and consider all people equal with no birth rights other than human rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Muslims don’t have an exclusive right to “heaven.”
3. We support equal rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance, witness, work, mobility, personal law, education, and employment. Men and women have equal rights in mosques, boards, leadership and all spheres of society. We reject sexism and misogyny.
C. Secular Governance: Freedom of Speech and Religion
1. We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty. We are against political movements in the name of religion. We separate mosque and state. We are loyal to the nations in which we live. We reject the idea of the Islamic state. There is no need for an Islamic caliphate. We oppose institutionalized sharia. Sharia is manmade.
2. We believe in life, joy, free speech and the beauty all around us. Every individual has the right to publically express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights. We reject blasphemy laws, which are a mask to restrict freedom of speech and religion. We affirm every individual’s right to critical thinking, and seek a revival of ijtihad [independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur'an and the Sunnah].
3. We believe in the freedom of religion, and the right of all people to express and practice their faith, or non-faith, without threat of intimidation, persecution, or discrimination or violence. Apostasy is not a crime. Our ummah–our community–is all of humanity, and not just Muslims.
We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!
December 3, 2015
Facebook: Muslim Reform Movement
Gmail: [email protected]
Please find us on Change.org
Tahir Gora, [email protected] (Canada, Toronto, author, journalist, activist)
Tawfik Hamid, [email protected] (US, Islamic thinker and reformer)
Arif Humayun, [email protected] (US, American Islamic Forum for Democracy Senior Fellow)
Farahnaz Ispahani, [email protected] (Author and Former Member of Parliament, Pakistan)
M. Zuhdi Jasser, [email protected] (US, President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy)
Mohamad Jebara, [email protected] (Canada, Ottawa Imam, Cordova Center)
Naser Khader, [email protected] (Denmark, Member, Danish Parliament, Muslim democracy activist)
Courtney Lonergan, [email protected] (US, American Islamic Foundation for Democracy, Community Outreach Director, Professional facilitator)
Hasan Mahmud, [email protected] (Canada, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, expertise in Shariah)
Asra Nomani, [email protected] (US, Journalist, Author)
Raheel Raza, [email protected] (Canada, Founder, Muslims Facing Tomorrow)
Sohail Raza, [email protected] (Canada, Director in Forum for Learning, Vice President of CPCMO-Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations)
Salma Siddiqui, [email protected] (Canada, President, Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations)