THEMES

Where the ‘moderate Muslims’ are
February 13, 2016
Where the ‘moderate Muslims’ are
We introduce you to some organisations and groups who may fit your definition of ‘moderate Muslims’

Unless you live on some other planet, you are sure to have heard the lament, if not an outright accusation, especially after every terror act (sadly there are far too many) in which Muslims are, or are alleged to be, involved: “Where are the ‘Moderate’ Muslim voices? Why do they not speak out, condemn such heinous crimes in the name of Islam?”

On their part, Muslims assert that the very word ‘Islam’ means ‘peace’. They point to the frequent and numerous fatwas and statements of muftis and molvis condemning all acts of terror as “un-Islamic”. They refer to verse 5.32 in the Quran: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.”  

Islamophobes, however, insist that Islam as the extremists and the terrorists interpret it is the “real Islam”, all else is false posturing, apologia at best.

Some Muslims claim they are sick and tired of having to bear the burden of “collective guilt”; of being held accountable for the crimes, however heinous, committed by a miniscule proportion from a community numbering over 1.6 billion; of being expected to hit the streets, issue condemnatory statements after every an act of terror by their co-religionists. Here are some counter-questions: Are all Christians, Hindus, Buddhists or whoever held responsible for the misdeeds and crimes of some who profess the same faith? Why then does the world make a different demand from Muslims?

How many of us recall Indian newspaper headlines and TV panel discussions on ‘saffron terror’ through the latter part of 2008 and since? Or the Time magazine’s cover story in July 2013 on ‘The face of Buddhist Terror’ and newspaper headlines across the Western world on the ‘Buddhist bin Laden’ of Myanmar? Is the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, who refuses to open her mouth on the plight of Rohingya Muslims, a ‘moderate Buddhist’? 

But the search for the ‘moderate Muslim’ goes beyond the issue of terrorism, pops up in other contexts too. What do Muslims believe in: Secular democracy or a theocratic state and shariah laws? Religious freedom or death for apostates? Freedom of expression or the blasphemer’s head? Celebration of diversity and pluralism or a supremacist Islam? Gender justice or male supremacy? What about sexual rights of LGBTs? At times such questions are summed up in an over-arching poser: Is Islam compatible, are Muslims at home, with modernity?

Back to the beginning: Who are ‘moderate Muslims’? Some Muslims question the very assumptions, the prejudice underpinning such a question. Others, Muslims and non-Muslims, mean different things when they talk of moderate Muslims. Sabrang India does not propose to add to the ambiguity. Instead, we introduce our readers to a range of Muslim organisations which have emerged in recent years across the world. Do they qualify to be counted among what is meant by ‘moderate Muslims’, ‘progressive Muslims’? You judge for yourself.

‘Where the moderate Muslims are’ is a work in progress. Visit again to get to know of other Muslim groups and organisations.
 
The Muslim Reform Movement

 
Motto:
“Ideas do not have rights, human beings have rights”

Declaration:

PREAMBLE
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 announce 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.
 
A. Peace: National Security, Counterterrorism and Foreign Policy
  1. We stand for universal peace, love and compassion. We reject violent jihad. We believe we must target the ideology of violent Islamist extremism in order to liberate individuals from the scourge of oppression and terrorism both in Muslim-majority societies and the West.
  2. We stand for the protection of all people of all faiths and non-faith who seek freedom from dictatorships, theocracies and Islamist extremists.
  3. We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.
B. Human Rights: Women's Rights and Minority Rights
  1. We stand for human rights and justice. We support equal rights and dignity for all people, including minorities. We support the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
  2. We reject tribalism, castes, monarchies and patriarchies and consider all people equal with no birth rights other than human rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Muslims don't have an exclusive right to "heaven."
  3. We support equal rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance, witness, work, mobility, personal law, education, and employment. Men and women have equal rights in mosques, boards, leadership and all spheres of society. We reject sexism and misogyny.
C. Secular Governance: Freedom of Speech and Religion
  1. We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty. We are against political movements in the name of religion. We separate mosque and state. We are loyal to the nations in which we live. We reject the idea of the Islamic state. There is no need for an Islamic caliphate. We oppose institutionalized sharia. Sharia is manmade.
  2. We believe in life, joy, free speech and the beauty all around us. Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights. We reject blasphemy laws. They are a cover for the restriction of freedom of speech and religion. We affirm every individual's right to participate equally in ijtihad, or critical thinking, and we seek a revival of ijtihad.
  3. We believe in freedom of religion and the right of all people to express and practice their faith, or non-faith, without threat of intimidation, persecution, discrimination or violence. Apostasy is not a crime. Our ummah--our community--is not just Muslims, but all of humanity.
We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!

Launch: In the early morning of Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, courageous Muslim reformers from Europe, Canada and the United States stood at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., announcing the formation of a new initiative, the Muslim Reform Movement, each one reading a precept from the movement's Declaration of Reform.

In each one of their communities, from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Phoeniz, Arizona, each one of these reformers have been fighting against violent Islamist ideologies, social injustice and political Islam, motivated by a vision for an Islam of peace, human rights and secular governance. 

A group of the reformers piled into a Kia Rodando and a yellow taxi to journey west on Massachusetts Avenue, to the Islamic Center of Washington, a mosque largely run by the government of Saudi Arabia. There, the brave group posted the Declaration of Reform on the doors of the mosque and, after the pleas of men to the mosque managers, three women from the Muslim Reform Movement prayed in the main hall of the mosque, otherwise forbidden to women on the Muslim holy day of Friday. 

Muslim reform has begun. The revolution has begun. We invite you to join us!

Founding signatories: 
1. Tahir Gora, Author, Journalist, Activist, Toronto, Canada
2. Tawfik Hamid, Islamic Thinker and Reformer, Oakton, VA, USA
3. Usama Hasan, Imam, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
4. Arif Humayun, Senior Fellow, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Portland, OR, USA
5. Farahnaz Ispahani, Author, Former Member of Parliament, Pakistan, Washington, D.C., USA,
6. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, AZ USA
7. Naser Khader, Member, Danish Parliament, Muslim democracy activist, Copenhagen, Denmark
8. Courtney Lonergan, Community Outreach Director, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Professional facilitator
9. Hasan Mahmud, Resident expert in sharia, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
10. Asra Nomani, Journalist, Author, Morgantown, WV, USA
11. Raheel Raza, Founder, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
12. Sohail Raza, Vice President, Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations
13. Salma Siddiqui, President, Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, Toronto, Canada

Contact: [email protected]
Website: http://muslimreformmovement.org/
 
Universalist Muslims

 
Motto:
Allah loves us all”.

Vision: To unearth and spread the Light and Love of Islam, which in its purest form is Universalist.

Mission: To spread egalitarian understandings of Islam, Muslims and universal human rights and connecting individuals and communities of many schools of thought to spread harmony and peace.

Goals: To create and connect communities to inclusive spaces; to hold congregational mixed gender prayers, led by any gender; to support family and the institution of marriage, including interfaith and same sex unions and connect community members to Muslim officiants; to build multi-faith communities with shared visions, such as the Ottawa Network of Spiritual Progressives and Hate to Hope; to lead and/or support the entitlement of women to self-determination everywhere; to stand in solidarity, shoulder to shoulder, with LGBTQI individuals inside and outside Muslim communities and nations; to respect animals and the earth, for us now and for future generations to come.  

Contact: [email protected]

Website: http://www.universalistmuslims.org/
 
Muslims facing tomorrow


Motto:
God is beautiful and He loves Beauty

Mission Statement
Whereas in the contemporary world the values of individual freedom, human rights and gender equality, science and democracy are cherished universal ideals, yet Muslims and non-Muslim minorities espousing these ideals in countries that are member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation face abuse, persecution, and violence;  and

Whereas Muslims and people of all other faith traditions need to come together in opposing bigotry in the name of Islam as preached and practiced in the mainstream mosques in Canada and across the Muslim world;

Therefore,
Our mission is to reclaim Islam for, as the word itself means, securing Peace for all people, and to oppose extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion; and

Our vision is to advance among Muslims the principle of individual rights and freedoms, and for Muslims to embrace the idea of openness, of relating to others as equal and deserving of equal respect, and of defending freedom of speech as the basis of all other freedoms enunciated in the constitutions of liberal democracies, such as ours in Canada; and, accordingly,

We consider our effort is consistent with the forward-looking reading of the principle enunciated in the Qur’an, “There is no compulsion in religion;” and

We believe our mission and vision are intimately bound with the struggle for Enlightenment among Muslims and Reform of Islam in the modern world; and

In order to succeed we are dedicated to nurturing harmonious coexistence among people of all faith traditions, to supporting open and free intellectual discourse about our history beset with problems that need to be publicly discussed, and to celebrating as Canadians our cultural diversity in all of its aspects.

 Vision: “God is beautiful and He loves beauty.”
These words are attributed to the Prophet. But one of Allah’s ninety-nine names is
“husn” and Allah is the Creator of all that is beautiful in the universe. In Sura 67,
“Al Mulk,” we find the following opening verses (in A.J. Arberry’s translation)

“…and He is
the All-mighty, the All-forgiving —
who created seven heavens one upon another.
Thou seest not in the creation
of the All-merciful any imperfection.
Return thy gaze; seest thou any fissure?
Then return thy gaze again, and again, and thy gaze comes
back to thee dazzled, aweary.”

If we distill the meaning of all of our efforts, to which we are committed, the essence is about restoring Beauty back into living and thinking Islam that has been effectively destroyed by Islamists over the past century and ruined in our lifetime.

In other words, our struggle or jihad is against the Ugliness that has taken over Islam, the Ugliness that has made a wasteland of our history and faith-tradition. Today people around the world associate all things Muslim with Ugliness, from suicide-bombings and terrorism to the clothes worn, the features on display, the forbidding of arts and music, the denial of everything beautiful on the grounds that beauty (woman’s hair, for instance, or unveiled face) is Satan’s temptation to deceive man.

Once this sense of beauty is lost, or suppressed, or violated, or forbidden, then man inwardly turns ugly and the rest follows, which is ugliness then gone to war with beauty.

Email:  [email protected]

Alternate:    [email protected]

Website: http://muslimsfacingtomorrow.com/
 
Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV)

 
Mission:

MPV’s mission is to embody and be an effective voice of the traditional Qur’anic ideals of human dignity, egalitarianism, compassion and social justice.

10 Principles:
Collective Identity
We accept as Muslim anyone who identifies as such. The veracity and integrity of that claim is between the individual and God, and is not a matter for the state nor an issue which other individuals can or should judge. We welcome all who are interested in discussing, promoting and working for the implementation of progressive values – human rights, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state – as well as inclusive and tolerant understandings of Islam.

Equality
We affirm the equal worth of all human beings, regardless of race, sex, gender, gender identification, ethnicity, nationality, creed, sexual orientation, or ability. We are committed to work toward global societies that ensure social, political, educational, and economic opportunities for all.

Separation of Religious and State Authorities
We believe that freedom of conscience is not only essential to all human societies but integral to the Qur’anic view of humanity. We believe that secular government is the only way to achieve the Islamic ideal of freedom from compulsion in matters of faith.

Freedom of speech
We support freedom of expression and freedom of dissent. No one should be legally prosecuted, imprisoned or detained for declaring or promoting unpopular opinions whether political, artistic, social or religious, even when that expression may be offensive and that dissent may be considered blasphemous.

Universal Human rights
We are committed to social, economic and environmental justice. We believe that the full self-realization of all people, in a safe and sustainable world, is a prerequisite for freedom, civility, and peace. We support efforts for universal health care, universal public education, the protection of our environment, and the eradication of poverty.

Gender equality
We support women’s agency and self-determination in every aspect of their lives. We believe in women’s full participation in society at every level. We affirm our commitment to reproductive justice and empowering women to make healthy decisions regarding their bodies, sexuality and reproduction.

LGBTQI Inclusion
We endorse the human and civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) individuals. We affirm our commitment to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and we support full equality and inclusion of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in society and in the Muslim community.

Critical analysis and interpretation
We promote interpretations that reflect traditional Qur’anic principles of tolerance, inclusiveness, mercy, compassion, and fairness. We call for critical engagement with Islamic scripture, traditional jurisprudence, and current Muslim discourses. We believe that critical thinking is essential to spiritual development.

Compassion
We affirm that justice and compassion should be the guiding principles for all aspects of human conduct. We repudiate violence, whether on an individual, organizational, or national level.

Diversity
We embrace pluralism and the diversity of inspirations that motivate people to embrace justice. We affirm that one’s religion and belief system is not the exclusive source of truth. We engage with a diversity of philosophical and spiritual traditions to pursue a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Contact: [email protected]
Website: www.mpvusa.org/
 
Islam Against Extremism


Objects: Exposing deviant ideologies, extremism, terrorism and their proponents

About: No details provided on the organisation’s website

Contact: Message box provided on the website

Website: http://www.islamagainstextremism.com/
 
Council of ex-Muslims of Britain


Manifesto

We, non-believers, atheists, and ex-Muslims, are establishing or joining the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain to insist that no one be pigeonholed as Muslims with culturally relative rights nor deemed to be represented by regressive Islamic organisations and ‘Muslim community leaders’.

Those of us who have come forward with our names and photographs represent countless others who are unable or unwilling to do so because of the threats faced by those considered ‘apostates’ – punishable by death in countries under Islamic law.

By doing so, we are breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam but also taking a stand for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism.

Whilst religion or the lack thereof is a private affair, the increasing intervention of and devastation caused by religion and particularly Islam in contemporary society has necessitated our public renunciation and declaration. We represent a majority in Europe and a vast secular and humanist protest movement in countries like Iran.

Taking the lead from the Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany, we demand:
  1. Universal rights and equal citizenship for all. We are opposed to cultural relativism and the tolerance of inhuman beliefs, discrimination and abuse in the name of respecting religion or culture.
  2. Freedom to criticise religion. Prohibition of restrictions on unconditional freedom of criticism and expression using so-called religious ‘sanctities’.
  3. Freedom of religion and atheism.
  4. Separation of religion from the state and legal and educational system.
  5. Prohibition of religious customs, rules, ceremonies or activities that are incompatible with or infringe people’s rights and freedoms.
  6. Abolition of all restrictive and repressive cultural and religious customs which hinder and contradict woman’s independence, free will and equality. Prohibition of segregation of sexes.
  7. Prohibition of interference by any authority, family members or relatives, or official authorities in the private lives of women and men and their personal, emotional and sexual relationships and sexuality.
  8. Protection of children from manipulation and abuse by religion and religious institutions.
  9. Prohibition of any kind of financial, material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities and institutions.
  10. Prohibition of all forms of religious intimidation and threats.
Contact: [email protected]

Website: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/
 
British Muslims for Secular Democracy (bmsd)


Aims:
Raise awareness within British Muslims and the wider public, of democracy particularly ‘secular democracy’ helping to contribute to a shared vision of citizenship (the separation of faith and state, so faiths exert no undue influence on policies and there is a shared public space).
  • Encourage religious understanding and harmony, respect for different systems of beliefs, and encourage an understanding and celebration of the variety of Muslim cultures, values and traditions which are present in British society.

bmsd will achieve this by:
  • Facilitating discourse and raising awareness of democracy particularly ‘secular democracy’ and its benefits.
  • Facilitating broad and enlightened theological discourses, to enable British Muslims and the wider public to be better informed about the Islamic faith.
  • Raising awareness of religious influence on UK domestic and foreign policies, particularly those which may lead to undue effect on civil liberties.
  • Addressing Islamophobia and prejudice against Muslims and Muslim communities.
  • Working with UK and global Muslim and other organisations, opposing radicalism and intolerant beliefs.
  • Ensuring that politicians and community leaders encourage and practise transparency and ensure legitimate voting practices are followed.
  • Engaging with marginalised Muslim communities, helping to identify root causes of deprivation and social exclusion, and help work towards a solution.
  • Providing a lively and interesting social/educational programme which showcases the variety of Muslim histories, cultures, values and traditions in the UK today.
  • Be responsive to the changing needs and pressures on succeeding generations of British Muslims and adjust and add to its programmes and projects accordingly.

About bmsd: bmsd was founded in 2006 by Nasreen Rehman and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. We bring together a diverse group of Muslim democrats from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds. We want to challenge perceptions, ideas and current thinking about British Muslims as a collectivity and the issues that affect the wider society. bmsd is not a theological group but one that advocates civic engagement and good citizenship. We are not concerned with judging or being judged on the basis of religious practice. If you call yourself a ‘Muslim’, you are most welcome to be a part of our movement. If you are non-Muslim, we equally welcome your association.

bmsd is about social inclusion, co-existence and harmony. Together we can all make a difference. It is now time to work towards this goal. bmsd aims to:
Raise awareness within British Muslims and the wider public, of democracy particularly ‘secular democracy’ helping to contribute to a shared vision of citizenship (the separation of faith and state, so faiths exert no undue influence on policies and there is a shared public space).

Encourage religious understanding and harmony, respect for different systems of beliefs, and encourage an understanding and celebration of the variety of Muslim cultures, values and traditions which are present in British society.

Contact: Not available on website

Website: http://bmsd.org.uk/
MuslimGirl


ABOUT:

When you first heard our name “MuslimGirl,” one of two things probably happened.

If you’re a Muslim, you were like, “Yes, finally — that’s me!”

If you’re not a Muslim, you might have flinched and thought something along the lines of, “Ugh, not these people…”

And that’s why we’re here.

We’re normalizing the word “Muslim” for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. MuslimGirl.net was launched from the bedroom of a high school girl that was fed up with the misleading misconceptions surrounding Islam — the way the news coverage and media outlets kept skewing the image of Muslims into a nasty one; the mistrust, racism, and flat-out hatred that the inaccuracies flamed; the muting of young Muslim voices from mainstream society; and the resulting disillusionment that young Muslims suffer about their religion in the tornado of it all.

We at MuslimGirl are taking back the narrative. We use our own voices to speak up for ourselves. We are raising the place of Muslim women in mainstream society. We are drawing awareness to the Qur’an’s message of gender equality and Islam’s principle of peace. We are paving the way towards a world in which every woman can raise her head without fear of being attacked for her gender or beliefs.

We write articles that relate to young modern women all over the globe and kickstart an open honest dialogue about Islam in today’s society. Here at MuslimGirl we like to talk about things that might be a little too embarrassing for mom, to bridge the gap between different religions through the spirit of sisterhood, and to host interfaith discussion to combat growing stereotypes within our society and tackle social issues that may otherwise be shied away from.

 

The MuslimGirl Clique is a global society of talented and driven Muslim women that are revolutionizing the way Islam is delivered the world over. The members of MGC are movers and shakers that are dedicated to exemplifying the ideals and principles of being a modern Muslim woman. They represent an international sorority of like-minded young innovators that are committed to combatting stereotypes and changing the view of Muslims as we know it. Their lives are a testament to the strength and power of our generation. MuslimGirl may personally extend an invitation for membership, otherwise there are currently three ways to be a part of the clique:

Contact: [email protected]

Website: http://muslimgirl.net/

The MuslimGirl:Pam Geller wanted us to draw Mohammed so we did’: http://muslimgirl.net/12016/dm2015/
Women Living Under Muslim Laws



About:
Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) is an international solidarity network that provides information, support and a collective space for women whose lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and customs said to derive from Islam.

For more than two decades WLUML has linked individual women and organisations. It now extends to more than 70 countries ranging from South Africa to Uzbekistan, Senegal to Indonesia and Brazil to France. It links:
  • women living in countries or states where Islam is the state religion, secular states with Muslim majorities as well as those from Muslim communities governed by minority religious laws;
  • women in secular states where political groups are demanding religious laws;
  • women in migrant Muslim communities in Europe, the Americas, and around the world;
  • non-Muslim women who may have Muslim laws applied to them directly or through their children;
  • women born into Muslim communities/families who are automatically categorized as Muslim but may not define themselves as such, either because they are not believers or because they choose not to identify themselves in religious terms, preferring to prioritise other aspects of their identity such as political ideology, profession, sexual orientation or others.
Our name challenges the myth of one, homogenous ‘Muslim world’. This deliberately created myth fails to reflect that: a) laws said to be Muslim vary from one context to another and, b) the laws that determine our lives are from diverse sources: religious, customary, colonial and secular. We are governed simultaneously by many different laws: laws recognised by the state (codified and un-codified) and informal laws such as customary practices which vary according to the cultural, social and political context.

Aims and focus: The network aims to strengthen women’s individual and collective struggles for equality and their rights, especially in Muslim contexts. It achieves this by:
  • Breaking the isolation in which women wage their struggles by creating and reinforcing linkages between women within Muslim countries and communities, and with global feminist and progressive groups;
  •  Sharing information and analysis that helps demystify the diverse sources of control over women’s lives, and the strategies and experiences of challenging all means of control.
WLUML’s current focus is on the critical issues identified as our priorities for collective analysis and action:
  • Peace-Building and Resisting the Impact of Militarisation
  • Preserving Multiple Identities and Exposing Fundamentalisms
  • Widening Debate about Women’s Bodily Autonomy
  • Promoting and Protecting Women’s Equality Under Laws
As a theme, violence against women cuts across all of WLUML’s projects and activities.

Contact: [email protected]

Website: www.wluml.org/