When my ex-Muslim friends today were giving glowing reviews to Asra Nomani for her courageous and insightful appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, I was led to investigate the declaration from Muslim Reform Movement, of which she was a cosignatory. And I was blown away by it. It is a wonderful declaration, in many ways far surpassing the low bar of “moderate religiosity” that all too many progressives, in the thrall of religious privilege and a bigotry of low expectations, are willing to settle for from the religious (and especially from moderate Muslims). Rather this is the kind of Islam that people committed to liberal and progressive values should be expecting from Muslims as a matter of course—just as it is the kind of Christianity that liberals and progressives expect from Christians, as a matter of course. It is the kind of Islam that does not mince words in prioritizing the shared humanistic values that all 21st Century religions should be demanded to uphold if they are to call themselves moral institutions. In particular I am incredibly heartened to see the declaration’s full-throated commitment to the rights of conscience of Islam’s critics and defectors–rights to “blaspheme” and to become an apostate. Too many 0f my fellow progressives probably would have been satisfied if they just brushed these issues under the rug as a bridge too far for sincere Muslims. I’m very grateful for Muslims who are more committed to progressive values than so many compromised mainstream progressives are.
We are Muslims and their neighbors who support the Muslim Reform Movement. We sign this petition to reject interpretations of Islam that advocate for violence, social injustice and political Islam and we sign this petition to support a reform of Islam that advocates for peace, human rights and secular governance.
Facebook: Muslim Reform Movement
Declaration of the Muslim Reform Movement
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, which are a cover for the restriction of freedom of speech and religion. We affirm every individual’s right to ijtihad, or critical thinking, and 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!
Affirmed this Third Day of December, Two-Thousand and Fifteen
Tahir Gora, Author, Journalist, Activist, Toronto, Canada
Tawfik Hamid, Islamic Thinker and Reformer, Oakton, VA, USA
Usama Hasan, Imam, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
Arif Humayun, Senior Fellow, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Portland, OR, USA
Farahnaz Ispahani, Author, Former Member of Parliament, Pakistan, Washington, D.C., USA,
M. Zuhdi Jasser, President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, AZ USA
Mohamad Jebara, Imam, Cordova Center, Ottawa, Canada
Naser Khader, Member, Danish Parliament, Muslim democracy activist, Copenhagen, Denmark
Courtney Lonergan, Community Outreach Director, Professional Facilitator, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, AZ USA
Hasan Mahmud, General Secretary, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Sharia Expert, Toronto, Canada
Asra Nomani, Journalist, Author, Morgantown, WV, USA
Raheel Raza, Founder, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
Sohail Raza, VP, Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, Toronto, Canada
Salma Siddiqui, President, Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, Toronto, Canada
Stand with us, please!