THE INSANITY MUST STOP
As The International Women’s Day (March 8) approaches, we join our voices with the powerful voices of women throughout the World who are calling for sanity, respect, and peace in the midst of so-called religiously motivated violence. It is crucially important for religious leaders of the World to denounce the horrible acts terrorists do in the name of God. But more is needed.
The fact is much of traditional religious literature is saturated with the language and metaphors of violence and exclusivism based on the exceptional self-understanding of a particular religion. We must understand and appreciate the fact that violence is often attributed to God who supposedly judges humankind with the promise of rewards and the threats of punishments. The time has come to confront the explicit and implicit images of violence embedded in the sacred writings of humankind. Should we not think of the divine in terms of transformation and hope, human dignity and equal rights for all?
We call upon religious leaders to encourage and conduct educational programs and dialogue opportunities confronting violent religious metaphors and teachings that threaten the well-being, dignity, and safety of others.
The responsible practitioner of any religious tradition will confront, explain, and reform their religious tradition in terms of fostering peace and supporting the basic human rights and dignity of all peoples.
We are inspired by the following statement from the South African Muslim Community. We are challenged by the power of their words and the courage of their example. We offer you an opportunity to consider this statement as we invite you to discover your own voice and contribute your wisdom to the pursuit of peace built by justice for all. This statement offers a fine example as to how we might recover the authentic voice of our own religious traditions.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN STATEMENT
As South African Muslims, we reject the actions of groups that have adopted murder, kidnapping and violence against innocent people, the destruction of schools, sacred spaces and forced conversions, in the name of Islam. These include Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Al Qa’eda, and more recently, the “Islamic State”.
We stand in solidarity with Christians, Yazidis, Jews and Muslims who have been forced to leave their homes, and have experienced terror and trauma at the hands of those who claim to speak for Islam, but are behaving in a manner contrary to the tenets of our faith. We are proud Muslims who stand for justice. We stand with communities that have been divided, with women who have been raped, with churches that have been razed. We stand with children that have known nothing but war, and death. We condemn the action of groups that use the religion of Islam to justify their brutality against innocent men, women and children of all faiths.
We acknowledge the legitimate concerns of groups that have been economically and politically marginalized, but call for political reform based on inclusivity. … We call for the responsible use of terms like “jihadist” or “Islamist”. The human rights abuses perpetrated by these terrorists and killers have nothing to do with the concept of Jihad which is to “struggle” or “strive” for goodness. Their behavior is contrary to Islam’s teachings and are repugnant to Muslims worldwide.
The Islam that we know and love is centered on values of justice, mercy and compassion. It stands in solidarity with all people facing persecution. These organizations – and the states that sponsor them – do not act in our name. We reject this hijacking and misrepresentation of Islam’s teachings. We further reject all forms of sectarianism – in the South Africa that we love, and in majority Muslim countries.
“Remember that people are of two kinds;
they are either your brothers and sisters in religion or
your sisters and brothers in humankind.”
Ali ibn Abu Talib, Muslim caliph and
son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad