Muslim terrorism has triggered an insider movement toward Muslim reformation.
One of the most troubling facts about Islamic terrorism today is the sheer growth in the numbers of people willing to pursue violent jihad.
David and Nancy French wrote about this recently. They pointed out that, given “Boko Haram, the Al-Nusra front, ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, the Taliban, Yemeni militias, Libyan militias, and many others, the number of active jihadists numbers in the hundreds of thousands, with some estimates of more than 100,00 fighting in Syria alone.”
What is the reaction of the larger Muslim community?
It’s time for a Muslim Reformation
Jihadists, who represent a small percentage of the global Islamic community, are celebrating. But reactions vary from the largest proportion of the Islamic community, fundamentalist Muslims. Many are horrified by what the jihadists are doing. A few of these have the courage to speak out.
However, many fundamentalist Muslims support the goal of a global caliphate. This would entail the disappearance of nation states as we know them today. These same Muslims want sharia law to be universal for all peoples and cultures. These Muslims may not fight, but they provide moral and financial support to the Jihadists. They often remain quiet regarding the violence in their adoptive nations. They resent being called on by the larger society to stand against the jihadists.
What are the numbers of these often-silent supporters? Here’s a very small glimmer of slightly okay news: most Muslims reject ISIS.
But don’t start celebrating. The Frenches write with alarming clarity. “Extrapolating from the populations of polled countries alone shows that roughly 50 million people express sympathy for a terrorist army that burns prisoners alive, throws gay men from buildings, and beheads political opponents. In Pakistan a horrifying 72 percent couldn’t bring themselves to express an unfavorable view of ISIS.”
Here’s the better word: Since the bloody attacks in Paris and San Bernardino a group of reformed-minded Muslims have arisen to say, Enough is enough. They have metaphorically joined hands with Egyptian President al-Sisi who is a reformer and has called for a global reform movement. A Muslim reformation is underway.
This brave group identifies themselves as the founders of the “Muslim Reform Movement.” They have written a Muslim Declaration of Reform. On December 4, 498 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in 1517, they posted their declaration on the door of the Islamic Center of Washington, DC .
One of the leaders, Asra Nomani, spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Ultimately, the reason why we, as Muslims, stood on Friday and went to the mosque and took the risks on our own lives, is because we’ve had enough. … I think the world has had enough.”
For the Meet the Press interview go here.
Predictably, the declaration was quickly removed by the Islamic Center authorities (this clearly says something). Sadly, there has been very little support from the greater American Muslim community. Tragically, the mainstream media in the US has been deafeningly silent. Wouldn’t they want to be a megaphone for Muslim reformers?
Who are these reformers who have pinned a bullseye on their own backs?
They are Islamic scholars, imams, writers and journalists. They are parliamentarians and leaders of progressive Muslim organizations. They include a medical doctor and a community organizer. They are husbands and wives, parents and neighbors. They intend to begin an international network of reformers. Six are from Canada, five from the United States, one from Denmark, one from Pakistan and one from England. Obviously, all are practicing Muslims.
A Muslim Reformation movement is underway
What do these reformers want to declare? Look no further than the preamble of their declaration.
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 United Nations 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: the Muslim Reform Movement.
We have courageous reformers from around the world who have written 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.
- We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.
- We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice. This includes ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation, and gender expression.
- We are for secular governance, democracy, and liberty.
- Every individual has the right to publicly criticize Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights.
- We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!
For more on these reformers and their declaration go here.
Notice how the declaration ends. “We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!’ It is up to their fellow Muslims. And it is up to us, their neighbors, to join with them.
For more on their fledgling movement, see these links:
Let us show solidarity with these Muslim reformers. Please pray for these courageous ones and please pass on the links to the Muslim Reformation, or to this blog post, on social media.
- Darrow Miller