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Muslim Public Affairs Council Releases “Declaration Against Extremism”

Imagine 2050 Staff • Nov 08, 2013

Last weekend, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) released their “Declaration Against Extremism” written by the organization’s co-founder and senior adviser, Dr. Mahar Hathout. The new document further examines the dangers of extremism as well as provides a call to action for members of the Muslim faith to speak out against extremism of any form. It was debuted at the the Islamic Center of Southern California’s (ICSC) fourth annual Conference on Contemporary Islamic Thought where the topic of discussion focused on Islam and extremism. 

According to MPAC, “the Declaration challenges Muslims to respond to all forms of extremism through engagement, positive articulations of theology and a willingness to stand up to and push back against those voices who use the garb of religious authority to further their own political and social agendas.”

MPAC further explained these extremist’s voices do not represent many Muslims across the world understanding of Islam or relationships with those of other faiths. However, these extremist groups often speak louder than most Muslims, thus, giving the impression these groups represent all of Islam. MPAC hopes to use this new Declaration as a toolkit for Muslim leaders and communities to engage those in society who may not be familiar with the Islamic faith and explain these extremist groups and individuals who have appropriated Islam do not represent the views of many Muslims.

The act of associating all Muslims with acts of extremists and those on the fringe is a common tactic used among members of the anti-Muslim cohort. Following any tragedy in which a Muslim assailant is involved, it can be expected those in the Islamophobia movement will seek to politicize the tragedy and try in some way to trace the events back to Islam. In addition, anti-Muslim activists will pose the question as to why Muslims are not speaking out against violence and calling for a reformation within the religion of Islam. Despite the fact Muslim leaders and organizations do come out and condemn acts of violence, it seems to fall on deaf ears of those within the Islamophobia movement. However, with the release of MPAC’s Declaration, it can further show acts of violence and extremism, in any form, do not represent Muslims or Islamic culture.

During the ICSC conference, a panel of MPAC leaders, including Dr. Hathout, were scheduled to give a lesson about the history and rise of “political Islam” and extremism. The aim of the conference was to also address how the Islamic faith and culture advocates for a way of life that respects human rights and a common good for all. This all led up to the release of MPAC’s Declaration and how it can be used to engage members of the community and demonstrate that Islam advocates certain values and fringe groups are acting on their own accord.

MPAC’s new Declaration is an important way to counter extremism, as well as empower communities to push back and say extremists do not represent Islam, just as violent individuals from other faiths do not represent all who practice the religion. In the wake of tragedy, the organized Islamophobia movement continues to promulgate that Islam is a violent religion. Now that MPAC has provided a crucial tool in responding to extremism, Islamophobic activists will have to find a new way to legitimize their bigotry and fallacies around the Muslim community.

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