The Marrakesh Declaration: Religious Minorities in Muslim Lands

The Marrakesh Declaration: Religious Minorities in Muslim Lands January 29, 2016

If you haven’t heard yet, a statement has been issued by a group of hundreds of Muslim scholars, called the Marrakesh Declaration, on the subject of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries. After an extensive preamble explaining the context and background, the group does the following:

Call upon Muslim scholars and intellectuals around the world to develop a jurisprudence of the concept of “citizenship” which is inclusive of diverse groups. Such jurisprudence shall be rooted in Islamic tradition and principles and mindful of global changes.

Urge Muslim educational institutions and authorities to conduct a courageous review of educational curricula that addesses honestly and effectively any material that instigates aggression and extremism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruction of our shared societies;

Call upon politicians and decision makers to take the political and legal steps necessary to establish a constitutional contractual relationship among its citizens, and to support all formulations and initiatives that aim to fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the Muslim World;

Call upon the educated, artistic, and creative members of our societies, as well as organizations of civil society, to establish a broad movement for the just treatment of religious minorites in Muslim countries and to raise awareness as to their rights, and to work together to ensure the success of these efforts.

Call upon the various religious groups bound by the same national fabric to address their mutual state of selective amnesia that blocks memories of centuries of joint and shared living on the same land; we call upon them to rebuild the past by reviving this tradition of conviviality, and restoring our shared trust that has been eroded by extremists using acts of terror and aggression;

Call upon representatives of the various religions, sects and denominations to confront all forms of religious bigotry, villification, and denegration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promote hatred and bigotry; AND FINALLY,

AFFIRM that it is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.

It is quite wonderful. In Sunni Islam, there is no hierarchical leadership structure, and so a statement like this is not binding in any strict sense. But precisely for that reason, a statement that both demonstrates and seeks to build wide consensus, while directly challenging issues that need to be addressed, is the most important and impactful kind of undertaking possible in that tradition.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • But the statement seems unclear whether or not it supports “freedom of religion” in the sense that Muslims have the right to reject Islam without fear of punishment.

    Generally, most Muslim leaders throughout the world think Muslims who reject Islam ought to be punished, even executed.

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Obviously trying to lull us into a false sense of security before striking like scholarly panthers.