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Back in April, “On Faith” and Georgetown University co-sponsored a panel discussion on “What It Means to Be Muslim in … Continued

Back in April, “On Faith” and Georgetown University co-sponsored a panel discussion on “What It Means to Be Muslim in America.” During that event, Georgetown’s Imam Yahya Hendi questioned why U.S. media rarely acknowledged condemnations of violence and terrorism by Muslim leaders. His question prompted “On Faith” co-moderator Sally Quinn to propose devoting a full week of “On Faith” to a discussion among Muslim scholars and authorities on Islam’s views on violence, human rights, and interfaith relations. “Muslims Speak Out” is that week-long, online discussion.

“On Faith” and Georgetown University asked nearly 60 Muslim leaders from around the world to participate by responding to questions on the three topics. About a third of the leaders agreed to do so, and their answers will be featured in the coming days.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life provided analysis of public opinion surveys. A number of the world’s most prominent voices – including former President Jimmy Carter, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus — will offer their perspective. And readers will be encouraged to add their questions and comments to the mix.

“On Faith” and “Muslims Speak Out” are efforts by the Washington Post Company to foster informative and productive online conversations about religion and its impact on world events and our lives. We believe that such conversations are critical if we are to begin to address the many conflicts being waged today in the name of faith.

By David Waters | 
July 20, 2007; 1:43 AM ET


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  • w robleh

    dear sir/madam

  • Mohammad Ali Khan

    Napoleon’s entry in Egypt, Ottoman’s contacts with Europe, British rule in India and above all the model of secular America and France had propelled reformation in Islamic regions in the 19th.Century. After the fall of the Ottomans, their region of influence was being replaced by secular forces. Kemal Ata Turk, Mohammad Ali Jinah, Soekarno, Nasser etc were secular leaders, who helped Muslims achieve freedom from colonialism. One of the main reasons was that the Muslims had realized that their fall from power and entry into stagnation and ultimately subjugation by the colonial forces was Mullah’s doing.

  • Ali Y.

    Thank you for precipitating a discussion on what it means to be a Muslim living in America. And having a week dedicated to Muslims “SpeakOut” by leading scholars. Though many voices and some greater authority like Imam Zaid Shakir and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson were unfortunately left out.Nonetheless, I greatly welcome this discussion and applaud WashingtonPost’s Ms. Sally Quinn and Mr. Jon Meacham for doing this courageous and timely series; and only hope more of this is encouraged in the near future.Warm regards,Ali Yaqif

  • David Pride

    Why doesn’t the whole, peace loving, violence hating Islam body, turn on the terrorists collectively and get rid of them? Sort of a necessary war within the religion. Then no innocent people die.

  • David Pride

    Why doesn’t the whole, peace loving, violence hating Islam body, turn on the terrorists collectively and get rid of them? Sort of a necessary holy war within the religion. Then no innocent people die.

  • julie bettenberg

    I cannot take time at this moment to read “Muslims Speak out” but I am putting it at the top of my “must read” list.

  • Arun Prakash Singh

    Koran is word of God and therefore as a matter of principle, no human being can refuse to accept it. It sounds good but the confusion starts only here. If it is word of God then every human being should be able not only to understand it clearly but understand it in exactly same manner. But that is not the case. I find not only ordinary folks but even Islamic Scholars differ from each other. The difference in understanding and interpretation is most of the times so serious that there appear totally conflicting views. Then what happens to the word of God which, in theory, can not be altered by any human being even by a comma or a full stop?

  • Richard Heiser

    Thank you very much for this informative and necessary series. While not a scholar (I have law, comparative religion and theology degrees, however), I have spent a life time studying a teaching the great religions. It is constantly distressing to witness the terrible ignorance of the American public. Hopefully this series will help somewhat in that regard.

  • sandi baise

    I am sure that the “intention” of the Muslim people is peace. The thing I am not sure of is why we (in this case meaning peace-loving non-Muslims) spend so much time debating Muslim RE-action to actions taken against them in their own countries.I truly believe that more information must be conveyed to our citizens about this Military-Industrial complex that our tax dollars are supporting, so we can better understand that all this RE-action.It is a real shame that our political leaders, who claim to be Christian, still would have us to believe that the sin is only in the re-action.

  • moeze. lalji

    Please check out my blog to see how a disabled person sees faith and how i am exploring the Bible and the Quran as a source of therapy. I see no conflict between the two.I am grateful to The Aga Khan for making me a better person.my poems are updated daily for sharing with the world. I write for charity with Chipmunkapublishers.thank you

  • Nibras

    This is what Muslims need nowadays. We need to start talking and establish a dialogue about the real Islam; which not about bombing and terrorism, but rather, about peace, tolerance, help the needy, and compassion etc. Those in charge of this task are the leaders of communities, as their influence on their people should impact positively on supporting this graceful initiative. But also, I think normal Muslims should participate and add value to this endeavor. I do appreciate your efforts to clear the common misunderstanding about Islam and pray that may Almighty God grants you strength to achieve success and excellence and your efforts be blessed.

  • Sheila Musaji

    Thank you so much for running this much needed series which provides some much needed depth to the discussion about Islam in America. Many Muslims regularly speak out against all forms of extremism and violence, but somehow their voices have not been heard. This sort of balanced coverage may help to change that.

  • Anjum Hassan

    Some of my comments (in quotes) are derived from an article posted on “www.muslimbridges.org”.Those without any religion are not encouraged to read this comment as it requires some basis in faith (of any kind) to understand my personal view. It is by no means a universal view, just an individual experience to share. This indeed is a much needed topic for discusion and I greatly appreciate WashingtonPost’s Ms. Sally Quinn and Mr. Jon Meacham efforts for doing this courageous and timely series. I became a practicing muslim in United states, this land of the free , and I highly admire this nations “sense and respect of an individual’s freedom”. Many people’s negative experieces of Islam,including those of muslims who have faced opression/lack of discipline etc in their own ethnic backgrounds like “Hirsi Ali” stem from their experiences in their individual back grounds. Those practices are unfortunately not “Islamic” and mostly based on local customs and traditions. Sadly, not many of us “born muslims” strive to study the religions, do comparative studies, and learn to respect everyone (nor only those who share our faith), like Islam mandates. When faced with a question, our lame reply is, ” I don’t know, I don’t practice this or that,” or “this is how we were taught”. Unfortunately, the more educated we become, in a wordly sense of being professionals or highly sucessful individuals, the more we ignore religion, thinking who needs it! or even worse, we learn from hearsay and practice whatever fits in our busy life styles. 90% of our practices are to please other people or compete with them in some way to ensure our wordly superiority. My waking moment came when I understood, ” the one most superior to God is the one who is most God conscious”. It has nothing to do with my appearnace, my beauty,wealth, however blessed I may appear to be to those arround me, but it entirely depends on the purity of my intentions, my true intentions, which only God can judge, and with that in mind, how can I justify any harmful act to myself or others. Learning and gaining knowledge is a fundamental requirement of being a muslim and not knowing your religion is not a choice. Coming to America made it possible for me to understand the beauty of my faith and that got rid of so many prejudices that I harbored , not knowing I was wrong to judge any one, as only God knows who is who !. As a muslim, I condemn the loss of innocent lives, be it muslims, Jews or christians. It has nothing to do with anyone’s faith. It has everything to do with one’s understanding of their own faith. A religious person, who fears God, can never commit act of terrorism. The aggressors who commit such acts may only intend to attack the religion itself. “All three Theistic religions command love, mercy, and peace. Terror on the other hand, is the opposite of religion;it is cruel, merciless and it demands bloodshed and misery. This being the case, while looking for the perpetrators of a terrorist act, its origins should be sought in disbelief rather than in religion. People with fascist,communist, racist or materialistic outlook on life should be suspected as potential perpetrators. The name and identity of the triggerman is not important” (by Harun Yahaya, website mentioned above), Sadly muslim nations are in a miserable state today because the majority have their so called faith without a strong foundaton of knowledge of religion . Those few, who have knowledge and wisdom, whatever their faith be, have and will always make this world a better place.

  • shakil Khan

    It is indeed a great effort and a noble endeavor by Washington Post to start this dialogue.Actually, Muslims voices are suffocated and are not being heard. No media, electronic, print or otherwise project or publish Muslim voices. Muslims of the world are screaming, begging, and asking for PEACE, JUSTICE, HUMAN RIGHTS, HEALTH CARE, FOOD TO EAT, A PLACE TO LIVE, AND DEMOCRACY.But unfortunately, no one is listening. Tell me how many muslims writings, lectures, voices and pleas, do you hear. None, because people in power want to subjugate them for their land and for their resources.

  • a Mom in the Midwest

    Wow, what a change from the normal media habit of plastering suicide bombers on the front page and tying it in with the Muslim Call for Prayer. I have often written to media outlets saying that Yes, Muslims do speak out, but it falls on deaf ears. It is so nice to see your portfolio, Muslims Speak Out. What a great service you are doing, not for Muslims, but for all people who simply want to understand each other and live in peace.Sincerely,

  • dani

    This is a joke right? why suddenly all muslims and their supporters do sweet talking and ignoring all the violent of muslims???

  • Sikander Bajwa

    My faith Islam is under siege and Muslims are fair game. But is it reaaly Islam that is causing death and destruction in the World. In fact; it is the Human Rights violation, dictatorial rules in Muslim countries supported by the West as it is easier to deal with one person/family to deal with than the elected representatives of a nation. Examples of Iran, Turkey, Malasia and Bangla Desh. If I may say: “It is the OCCUPATION Stupid”. Occupation of Palestine by Israel,Occupation of Kashmir by India, Occupation of Chechnya by Russia, Occupation of Iraq by the United States,Occupation of Afghanistan by United States.Islam is being wrongly used by Muslims to advance their agenda and by the West to define a NEW ENEMY. Islam is innocent, a minority of Muslims causing death are not. I wish they find leaders who can address these issues with Truth and Humility. How will the West respond if they do? That is the quaestion. So far the record is bad.

  • Sikander Bajwa

    My faith Islam is under siege and Muslims are a fair game. But is it really Islam that is causing death and destruction in the World. In fact; it is the Human Rights violation, monarchy/dictatorial rules in Muslim countries supported by the West because it is easier to deal with one person/family than the elected representatives of a nation. Examples of Iran, Turkey, Malasia and Bangla Desh. If I may say: “It is the OCCUPATION Stupid”. Occupation of Palestine by Israel,Occupation of Kashmir by India, Occupation of Chechnya by Russia, Occupation of Iraq by the United States,Occupation of Afghanistan by United States.Islam is being wrongly used by some Muslims to advance their agenda (that I abhore) and by the West to define a NEW ENEMY since the demise of USSR (The Godless Country as we were told to launch Jihad againt). Islam is innocent, a minority of Muslims using Islam in the pursuit of achieving their political goals, are not. I wish they find leaders who can address these issues with Truth and Humility. How will the West respond if they do? That is the quaestion. So far the record is bad.

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