NEW YORK, Jan. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Stating that the Gatestone Institute believes it is a moral imperative to support those Muslims who challenge the harm committed by those who claim to represent their faith, the not-for-profit international policy council has placed the words of Ahmed Vanya, a Fellow at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), in a full page advertorial in The New York Times where the author addresses the question, "What can Muslims do to reclaim their `beautiful religion?'"
AIFD and its projects represent leading voices for reform and human rights from within Muslim communities, and Vanya's voice has received Gatestone Institute's full support. The text of the full page message in the national edition of the Sunday Review Section of The New York Times, on January 11, 2015, along with its signatories, is below.
WHAT CAN MUSLIMS DO TO RECLAIM THEIR "BEAUTIFUL RELIGION"?
As people observe beheadings and savagery by ISIS, female genital mutilations and honor killings, the abduction of girls by Boko Haram, the execution of innocents in Iran, the slaughtering and enslaving of Christians in Egypt and Africa and Yazidis and Kurds in Iraq and Syria, rampant anti-Semitism and other crimes against humanity committed by those who claim to represent Islam, many people are understandably asking: What is the true nature of Islam? Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful?
If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then the political quest for an Islamic state cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful Creator regardless of the interpretations by various Islamic groups and scholars. Neither jihadism nor Islamism permit the equality of all humans irrespective of their race or religion and should therefore be rejected.
Our denial and our relative silence must stop! It is the duty of we Muslims to actively and vigorously affirm and promote universal human rights, including gender equality and freedom of conscience. As our Holy Qu'ran states (4:135) "Believers! Conduct yourselves with justice, bearing true witness before God, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, or your kin." We must engage in and promote reforms where necessary, including an honest and critical reinterpretation of scripture and shariah law used by Islamists to justify violence and oppression.
We must also recognize and loudly proclaim that the quest for any and all "Islamic State(s)" has no place in modern times. Theocracy, particularly, Islamism, is a proven failure. The path to justice and reform is through liberty.
It is also our responsibility to reclaim the faith we love from these monsters, forcefully rejecting and combating all components of their ideology.
If we Muslims believe that "true" Islam, genuinely aligned with the will of the Creator, is fundamentally peaceful, comprehensively merciful and objectively just, then it is our duty to do what is necessary to live and promote an Islam that is based in liberty and worthy of being called a beautiful religion. We must seek out necessary support from non-Muslim allies in order to be successful in our work.
We, the undersigned, are Muslims who embrace a pluralistic interpretation of Islam, rejecting all forms of oppression and abuses committed in the name of religion or culture and particularly Islamism.
We stand with the author in reaffirming our embrace of a peaceful, merciful and just Islam worthy of being called a beautiful religion.
We, and the Gatestone Institute, welcome all people of conscience to join the undersigned in a sign of solidarity by affirming the foregoing declaration which the Gatestone Institute has published on its website.
Sherkoh Abbas, Chairman, Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (Kurdnas), Washington, D.C.
Tarek Fatah, Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress, Toronto, Canada
Farid Ghadry, President, Reform Party of Syria, Washington, D.C.
Iftekhar A. Hai, President, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance, San Francisco, CA
Dr. Tawfik Hamid, President, International Center for Countering Radicalism, Oakton, VA
Husain Haqqani, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C.
Jamal Hasan, Council for Democracy and Tolerance. Baltimore, MD
Sheikh (Dr.) Usama Hasan, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
Farzana Hassan, Director, Muslim Canadian Congress, Toronto, Canada
Arif Humayun, President, Circle of Peace, Portland, OR
Farahnaz Ispahani, Former Member of Pakistani Parliament, Director, Americans For Pakistan, Washington, D.C.
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, AZ
Naser Khader, Founder, Democratic Muslims, former member of Danish Parliament, Copenhagen, Denmark
Zainab Zeb Khan, United Nations Association, Chicago IL
Courtney Lonergan, Arizona Interfaith Movement, Phoenix, AZ
Hasan Mahmud, General Secretary, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Canada
Salim Mansur, Ph.D., Professor, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
Maajid Nawaz, Co-Founder & Chairman, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK.
Raheel Raza, President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
Munir Pervaiz Saami, Director, Progressive Writers Association, Toronto, Canada
Oubai Shahbandar, Principal , Dragoman Partners, Washington, D.C.
Ahmad Vanya, Fellow, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, San Jose, CA
Jalal Zuberi, MD, Associate Professor, Clinical Pediatrics, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.
As stated, Gatestone Institute, a non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank, is dedicated to educating the public about issues the mainstream media consistently fails to report including: Institutions of Democracy and the Rule of Law; Human Rights; a free and strong economy; a military capable of ensuring peace at home and in the free world; American energy independence; ensuring the public stays (or is) informed of threats to our individual liberty, sovereignty and free speech.
Among its programs, Gatestone Institute conducts national and international conferences, briefings and events for its members and others, with world leaders, journalists and experts -- analyzing, strategizing, and keeping them informed on current issues, future trends and where appropriate, recommending solutions.
SOURCE Gatestone Institute