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August 13th, 2010
12:37 AM ET

Canadian imams issue declaration to combat radical Islam

A council of Canadian imams is issuing a declaration Friday that it says represents the world's first nationwide condemnation of radical Islam by the faith's religious leaders.

"People have done many, many condemnations of terrorism but it has never been done well enough or complete enough to get people to pay attention and to say this is a point of sea change," said David Liepert, a spokesman for the Canadian Council of Imams, which is issuing the statement.

"This is us reclaiming Islam from radicals who want to promote conflict and promote violence," he told CNN.

The Council, which comprises 50 influential imams, says its statement - called the Canadian Council of Imams Declaration– will be read in more than 200 mosques across Canada during Friday's afternoon prayers.

"Islam does not permit the killing of innocent people, regardless of their creed, ethnicity, race or nationality," the statement says.

The declaration doesn't mention radicalism or terrorism, but it repeatedly condemns religious violence.

"The sanctity of human life overrides the sanctity of religious laws," it says. "Islamic rulings do not - and should not - contradict natural laws. Islam is a religion that promotes peace, justice, equality, dignity and freedom for all human beings."

"All human beings are equal, and all of them are the children of Adam and Eve (peace be upon them)," another part of the statement reads. "The best Muslim is the one who is good to his/her family and neighbors, and one who avoids harming others with his/her hand or tongue."

The declaration, which comes at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is aimed at establishing basic tenets of Islam for Muslim youth and at improving the public image of the religion, Liepert said.

"For Muslims, our religion is always part of the story when one of us does something wrong," he said. "Maybe that's not the way it should be, but it's the way it is."

"We need to take every opportunity we get to denounce terror and violence and their linkages to religion, which are false," he said.

Earlier this year, a Muslim scholar issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, from London saying that suicide bombers are destined for hell.

In March, Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri criticized Islamic extremists who cite their religion to justify violence, in what one counterterrorism think tank said was "arguably the most comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism to date."

"We looked at things like a fatwa, but the trouble is it's a limited legal opinion," Liepert said. "We consider this statement almost a constitution for the way Islam is and will be interpreted by Canada."

At a time of rising tensions in the United States between Muslims and other Americans over a proposed Islamic center near New York's ground zero and over proposed mosques elsewhere in the country, Liepert hopes his group's document will provide a roadmap to its southern neighbor.

"This document will show American Muslims that this is the way to go," he said.

But Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that many American Muslim groups had issued condemnations of Muslim terrorists. He pointed to a 2005 fatwa issued by the Fiqh Council of North America, a U.S. counterpart to the Canadian Council of Imams.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Faith Now • Interfaith issues • Islam • Muslim

soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. iampostal

    the saddest part of all this inane aruing is that all you have to do to stop the fighting killing name-calling suffering torturing bickering and finger-pointing world-wide is to simply.....remove god...whatever you believe just for a minute think "if there was no religion how much of this would have never happened how much nicer would this world be" then realize the irony that for the world to become the loving peaceful place your holy books perpetrate (but never practice) to be.

    September 6, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  2. uggugg

    Why so many Americans don’t trust Islam?
    Honest communications have not been satisfactory. Imams themselves, have trouble explaining to educated people, some of the things that are in the Koran that go against international civil rights and are practiced by many, many Muslims.
    Christians of all faiths know and understand the old testament where eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth was an acceptable practice. Since Jesus came on earth we have been given the New testament, forgive and you will be forgiven. This is the big sticky point between all Americans and Islam. I don’t think Imams will ever be able to satisfy the old testament practices that they still use in their Koran, such as stoning, beheading, or more than one wife. Many practices in the Koran are illegal in the United States.
    Only now they are being confronted with these questions. That is why withdraw and hide. They don’t have the answers. I was raised a Catholic. I think like Catholics and that is natural. They were raised Muslims and they think like Muslims. We all understand this. If people in my Catholic faith bomb abortion clinics they need prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If people in the Islamic faith bomb people, places or things they don’t agree with, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, also if they have more than one wife, they need prosecuted for that, same as the Mormons were many years ago. Muslims need to understand, when in Rome do as the Romans do. You can’t take your laws to Rome and expect everyone in Rome to do as you do. You obey the laws of the country that you are living in or pay the consequences.
    This should be understandable if you are a fair minded person, instead of a self-centered person.

    August 29, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  3. Don

    It's a small start, and a late one, but it's the best we've got so far. Thank you.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  4. George

    I'm asking all Muslims in the western hemisphere to please leave.

    August 22, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
    • Sarah

      @George,

      American Indians here in the western hemisphere would also like their land back from the white people who stole it from them.

      October 17, 2010 at 3:26 am |
  5. George

    The best thing for Muslims worldwide to do is congregate in your own lands of the middle east and stay there. You can live under any crazy system you want. Democracy is something you want to destroy, but we in America do not.

    August 22, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
  6. George

    Please, everyone, write, call, email your congressmen to demand a temporary halt to immigration of Muslims to America, as a war measure and not as a discriminatory move against the so called religion. Two presidents over ten years have told us we are at war, so it must be true. During World War 2 we did not allow immigration of "moderate" Nazis.

    August 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  7. George

    You are correct. It is taught in the Koran to lie to the infidel.

    August 22, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  8. George

    You will condemn the violent jihadists now, while you are a small minority in the country of your residence, but when your numbers get large enough, and you see a possible tipping over to Sharia law over constitutional law, what will you be saying then? We in America, a large percentage of us, do not trust what you say. The history of Islam is out there for all to see. There will always be a strong opposition front in America, because we have a repugnance for totalitarian systems. The mosque in New York is a dead issue as far as I am concerned. It's pretty clear if you know America and Americans that the mosque won't be fit to pray in. If they want to waste a hundred million dollars, why don't they send it to the flood victims of Pakistan?

    August 22, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  9. Noble9

    Do we really need another kooky religion that claims to be the "one true way"?

    August 15, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.