Press Conference of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan
New York, City Hall, NYC Oct. 14, 2014
A Call to Justice and Rejection of Violent Extremism
A Statement from the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of
Metropolitan New York
Thirteen years ago during the immediate aftermath of the september 11th atrocities, the Majlis Ash-Shura, also known as the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, wrote and distributed 10,000 brochures on the streets of our city. The brochures conveyed our message of condolences to all who lost loved ones in those horrid attacks. We denounced terrorism, which we identified as politically motivated violence against innocents. Further, we urged the Western powers to seriously investigate those factors that were fomenting extremism amongst Muslims.
Today, our message remains essentially the same. Throughout the planet, there are people of different racial and ethnic groups, many religions or beliefs, or lack thereof, and various political ideologies, who are committing terrorist acts. Regretfully, extremist Muslims are to be found amongst them
No reasonable person blames all Christians or Christianity itself, or all Jews or Judaism itself, or all Hindus or Buddhists or their faiths, or atheists for that matter, for acts of terrorism committed by a distinct minority of people from those groups. Yet too often we find Muslims collectively burdened with guilt by association of faith, when individuals or groups who claim to be acting in the name of Islam, instead act outside of it’s moral and ethical boundaries. Then the media or others , place the blame for atrocities on Islamic extremists or terrorists, when our faith is not extreme nor does it advocate terrorism.
Since the very night of September 11, 2001, Muslim groups throughout America and the world have been denouncing the targeting of innocent, non-combatant civilians and others, by extremist Muslims. Yet all of us are constantly asked “Why don’t you say something?” To which we reply “We have, and we are, the question is why aren’t you aware of that?”
So today, we as leaders of Muslim congregations and houses of worship throughout New York City, say again for all to hear that we denounce acts of extremist violence no matter whom or what. Certainly there are violent extremists who are Muslims, but their acts of terrorism are not Islamic. They are un-Islamic.
In our society we hear from the lips of Islamophobes or those influenced by them, that the canonical law of Islam, Sharia law, is to blame for acts of terrorism committed by extremist Muslims. However the truth is that the sacred laws of our faith, forbid the very acts being committed by extremist Muslims, be they individuals or groups.
So as Muslim leaders in New York City, we stand in solidarity with the distinct majority of people throughout America and the world, including the viable scholars of our religion both here in America and abroad, in denouncing all acts of political violence committed by extremist individuals, groups, or governments, regardless of the color of their skin, the country of their origin, their religion or lack thereof, or their politics.
We do so because as Muslim leaders we stand for justice. We are ever mindful that there are injustices in the world that need to be righted. We feel the pain in our hearts, of Muslims oppressed anywhere in the world. Too many of those injustices are committed by Muslims against Muslims and others, and vice-versa. It matters not the identity of the perpetuators of injustice, nor its victims. Right is right and wrong is wrong is wrong, and oppression and injustice are wrong , no matter whom or what. However we of the Majlis Ash-Shura do not believe that two wrongs make a right. We are here today to make it clear that struggling for justice is right, and violent extremism is wrong.
Today, we are announcing our implementation of a Four-Point-Citywide response, to appeals from anywhere in the world, calling Muslims to acts of terrorism:
1. Beginning this week, on our web-site and in social media, we are posting our principled opposition against terrorism, with evidences from the primary sources of our faith - our holy book the Qur’an, and the Sunna, or Prophetic tradition of the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, to whom the Qur’an was revealed, peace be upon him.
2. We continue to declare that we stand for both public safety and the civil, constitutional and human rights of all Americans, including Muslims. We continue to stand ready to partner reasonably with those whose commitment is to both of these essential elements of American society.
3. This Friday Oct 17th, simultaneous sermons will be delivered at mosques throughout the city upholding the principle of justice, yet denouncing extremist acts and tactics that exceed the boundaries of Islamic sacred law.
4. This November, we will once again sponsor our citywide mosque open-house events, as we have done for the past four years; where-in Muslim houses of worship will open their doors for visits and activities, with our neighbors of other faiths.
Lastly, we call upon the governments of the world to stop using state-sponsored violence as a tool of oppression and repression of the masses of people seeking freedom, justice, and equality. We call for the elimination of poverty, which is itself a weapon of mass destruction *, as well as all economic, political, and social injustice, which leaves persons vulnerable to calls to extremism, as the only viable solution to the very real problems of society.