Muslim Scholars and Community Leaders Need to Counter Ignorance With New Approach

Muslim Scholars and Community Leaders Need to Counter Ignorance With New Approach

by Sheila Musaji

Recently, we have seen a series of shocking incidents.  In Bangladesh hundreds of Muslims burned at least four Buddhist temples and 15 homes of Buddhists on Sunday after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam in an anti-Muslim FaceBook posting.  Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand who were angry about Thai government policies fired grenades at a fair, injuring 30 innocent civilians.  In Kenya, Muslims attacked a church with grenades, killing a child, in revenge for the Kenyan government taking control of Al Shabab’s stronghold of Kismayo.  In Pakistan Muslims attacked a church, and Christian community, displacing 27 families, in Mardan near Peshawar in respose to the American made anti-Muslim video “Innocence of Muslims”.  In Karachi, Pakistan, rioters attacked and looted a Hindu Temple over the anti-Muslim video.  The al Qaeda terrorist attack resulting in the tragic murder of the American Ambassador and four other embassy staff in Benghazi, Libya.  There have been riots in many Muslim majority countries leading to deaths, injuries, and destruction of property, in response to a stupid movie.  A Pakistani government official even offered a “bounty” for the murder of the filmmaker of “Innocence of Muslims”.

I don’t care what the complicated background situation is.  I don’t care whether the individuals carrying out such actions think that they are carrying out an act of vengeance, or retaliation, or a pre-emptive strike— it doesn’t matter.  There is no concept of “collective guilt” in Islam - no one is responsible for anything but what they themselves have done.  Acts of terrorism or violence against civilians are not acts of jihad.  And yet, we have a lot of Muslims who have been misguided into thinking that un-Islamic acts are Islamic. 

During the current outbreak of violence over what was considered defamation of the Prophet Muhammad, American Muslim organizations and scholars condemned the violence.  The organizations and scholars have previously spoken out about many issues, and condemned many actions and incidents as being opposed to the teachings of Islam. 

I believe that it is time to take those messages to the next level, and find a way to get the message to the maximum number of individuals possible.  Perhaps using the tools of social media.  We need a counter-narrative, not only to the Islamophobes, but to the Muslim extremists, 

In this current crisis, there was a response that might be the beginning of a program that could reach Muslims across the globe with a positive message:

MPAC recently released a series of videos from well known American Muslims titled Saying No to Hate, No to Violence calling on all people of consciousness to bring an end to senseless violence (most recently in the massive demonstrations that have swept across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia).  The videos are being released in Arabic, English, Farsi, Pashtu, and Urdu.  In the series, Dr. Maher Hathout, MPAC’s Senior Adviser; Nouman Ali Khan, the Founder of Bayyinah Institute; Imam Zia of the Islamic center of Irving; and AbdulNasir Jangda, Founder and Director of the Qalam Institute; examine the current protests against an amateur anti-Muslim hate video in light of the Prophet’s example of responding to hate and intolerance with patience and wisdom.

MPAC previously released “Injustice Cannot Defeat Justice”, a public service announcement featuring nine of America and Britains’s leading Muslim figures speaking against the use of violence as a means to impact change and its violation of Islam’s core teachings.  Sheikh Hamza Yusuf,  Imam Suhaib Webb, Dr. Maher Hathout, Imam Ihsan Bagby, Imam Mohamed Magid, Imam Zaid Shakir, Sheikh Abdal-Hakim Murad,  Dr. Jamal Badawi,  Sheikh Yassir Qadhi.  This is posted on YouTube in English.

CAIR released a video appeal in Yoruba by Imam Abdu Semih Tadese of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.  Yoruba is spoken by more than 20 million people.  They also released an appeal against violent protests in Arabic by Nihad Awad.  The videos are posted on YouTube.

GET INVOLVED!  MPAC posted a statement on their site saying:  Calling all community leaders, scholars, imams and people of consciousness – Take 10 minutes to plan, record and upload your own message to the world about the need to say no to hate and no to violence.  The reaction and violence in several countries in the region was sparked by a hateful internet video, “Innocence of Muslims,”  that was designed to spark a reaction. The protests and attacks have targeted U.S. embassies and businesses around the region.  MPAC contact information.

I believe that we have Imams and scholars who speak many languages and could help in this effort, not only in relation to this film, but to all such violent responses to speech.  We should also have videos by qualified scholars on many other topics of concern to all of us - opposing attacks on minority communities, explaining the Amman message about eight madhabs, opposing domestic violence and “honor” killings, responsibilities of citizens, etc.

There is a lot of ignorance out there, and it seems as if this might be a way to counter that ignorance.  Every national organization should work together on making this happen, posting all videos to YouTube.  National organizations should also set up a page on all of their websites listing all existing videos (and written fatwas and statements) by topic and language, so that they are easy to find.  They should also set up a page on FaceBook and other social media sites in order to get such materials the widest audience possible.  And, as a final thought, it might help to set up a Khutbah bank with videos and text copies of the best khutbas on selected topics that could be accessed by local Imams as a resource when preparing their own khutbahs. 


— Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad - Defend the Prophet (SAWS) by following His Way, not by Following Our Emotions - To the Muslim Protesters & Demonstrators Against the Negative Film About the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)  - The Anger Games, Putting The Brakes on Muslim Rage - Hurdling the American Muslim Challenge
— Sheikh Akeel al-Maktiry, Scholars Association of Yemen
— Sheikh Mahmood al-Masry, Egypt
— Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Egypt
— Sheikh Dr. Aaidh al-Qarni, Saudi Arabia
— Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn: Violence not what Islam preaches, Niraj Warikoo|head
— Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Mauritanian cleric, based in Saudi Arabia
— Shaykh Jamaal Diwan of the Islamic Center of Irvine, California Libya, Egypt, and the Denigration of Religious Beliefs
— Rached Ghannouchi, of Ehnnada in Tunisia vows to crack down on Salafists
— Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt Violence is never an acceptable answer to provocation
— Aboobacker Musliyar, an Indian scholar from Kerala condemned the violence over anti-Islam film
— Sheikh Yasir Qadhi said: “Clerics and leaders who instigate Muslims to ‘defend the honor of the Prophet (saw)’ by attacking people who have nothing to do with insulting his honor, actually disrespect the memory of our Prophet (saw).”
— Sheikh Faraz Rabbani
— Tariq Ramadan An appeal to the conscience of Muslims
— Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, U.S. 

A Spiritual Jihad Against Terrorism (5 parts), Sheila Musaji
Muslim Scholars Appeal to Christian Scholars for Dialogue and Peace - “A Common Word”, Sheila Musaji
Muslim Violence, Christian Non-Violence:  People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Words, Sheila Musaji  
list of article collections and resources
- Part I & II Fatwas & Statements by Muslim Scholars & Organizations against extremism and terrorism
- Part III Statements & Articles by Individuals
- Part IV A few Quotes A-K, and L-Z
- Part V Muslim Voices Promoting Islamic Non Violent Solutions 
- Part VI Qur’an & Hadith Against Extremism and Terrorism
- Part VII Selective Hearing of Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism 
- Part VIII Religious terrorism is an oxymoron, Sheila Musaji
- Part IX Throwing Stones at the Qur’an From a Biblical Glass House, Sheila Musaji
- Part X Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history
- Part XI Hirabah - Jihad - Terrorism - Violence - Just War - Crusades article collection and resources from TAM and Loonwatch

A Condemnation of the Murders in Libya, Hasan Zillur Rahim
A Muslim’s prayer on the anniversary of 9/11, Omid Safi
America and the Muslims, Esam Al-Amin
An orgy of cynicism, Hussein Ibish
Anti-Islam video does not represent Coptic community, H.A. Hellyer
Anti-Muslim Extremist Video Calls for Counter-narrative by Mainstream Americans, Sahar Aziz
Are Muslims Nuts?, Haroon Moghul
Cairo and Benghazi Attacks: Addressing the Deeper Problem, Omar Baddar,b=facebook
California Muslims hold vigil for slain ambassador
Defend the Prophet (SAWS) by following His Way, not by Following Our Emotions, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad
Demonstrating for dignity: why are Muslims SO enraged?, Myriam Francois-Cerrah
Egyptian Muslims, Copts in NJ show unity[]
Embassy Attacks in Egypt, Tunisia Could Marginalize Extremists, Nader Habibi
Ending the radicalization spiral after the tragedy in Libya, H.A. Hellyer
Extremist Christians Produce Anti-Muslim Film Blame Jews, Sheila Musaji
Lupe Fiasco counters anti-Islam video in a series of tweets
Finnish Muslims condemn both anti-Muhammed movie and the violence it has spawned
Fethuleh Gulen condemns violence
How Should Muslims React to Mocking of Muhammad?, Muslim Matters
How would Prophet Muhammad respond to the anti-Muhammad “film”?, Omid Safi
In Crisis, Romney Reveals Neo-Con Tendencies, James Zogby
In Memoriam of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and the Foreign Service officers, MPAC
Islamism’s turning point: Violent extremism is the antithesis of the Arab Spring, but how we handle the current crisis will decide its future Tariq Ramadan
Libyans protesting in Benghazi: Images You Won’t See in the Media, Sheila Musaji
Looking at Libya, and at Ourselves, Hussein Rashid
The Mercy of Prophet Muhammad, Kamran Pasha
Moderates in West must raise their voices: Haroon Siddiqui, Haroon Siddiqui—column-moderates-in-west-must-raise-their-voices-haroon-siddiqui
Muslim, Arab, & Interfaith Organizations Condemn Attacks on U.S. Embassies (TAM collection of statements)
Muslim and Catholic leaders in Michigan condemn violence and film
Muslim Mobs Insult Muhammad’s Legacy, Dr. David Liepert
Muslims, You’ve Got a Great Deal of Work to Do, Ahmed Younis
PSA: To my fellow Muslims in Libya, Egypt, and the world…Grow up!, Robert Salaam
—Tariq Ramadan, Islamic Scholar on the Growing Mideast Protests and “Islam & the Arab Awakening”
— Rep. Keith Ellison on Meet the Press
— Arsalan Iftikhar on CNN
— Muqtedar Khan on Radio France
Reactions to the Anti-Muslim Film: It is Now Time To Grow Up, Sami Moubayed
Speaking out because I must, Nancy Shehata
The Tragic Consequences of Extremism, Sheila Musaji
Tragic Violence in Libya: No Excuse for Perpetrators—or for Provocateurs, Haroon Moghul
U.S. Muslims are not measured by the exemplary work of its mainstream, Jihad Turk and Salam Al-Marayati
US Muslim Leaders Condemn Violent Protests in Libya, Egypt
Violent protests are the true insult to Islam, Palestine Note
We Muslims must be dignified despite anti-Islamic propaganda, Mohammed Bari
What Was Really Behind the Benghazi Attack?, Hisham Matar
What’s Behind the US Embassy Protests in Egypt, Sharif Abdel Kouddous
When free speech costs human life, Qasim Rashid
When righteous indignation is not righteous at all, Khaled Hamid
Who are the real players behind anti-Muslim film?, Sheila Musaji
Why Are Muslims So Concerned with Muhammad?, Haroon Moghul