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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' • Interfaith issues • Islam • Muslim

soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Ugandan

    Can anyone pass edicts condemning christian terrorists in Uganda, from the Lords Resistance Army, a pentecostal cult that has been killing Ugandans and kidnapping children for years? hello? hello? HELLO? HELLO????????????????????

    August 13, 2010 at 10:15 am |
    • Frogist

      I don't know much about this situation but I would like to. Please post links if you have them. I'm not challenging you. I'm just curious.

      August 13, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  2. Bradley

    I think that any muslim can become a "strap on" suicide bomber. There are good Imam's, nevertheles given the correct indoctrination any muslim can become a Fundamentalist Islamic suicide bomber. 36 Vestal virgins, to obtain perhaps. Conservative christian Fundamentalists do'nt seek martyrdom or virgins. Therein lies their weakness, signed true infidel. This whole thing is a battle of ego's, like Putin's(Georgia needs some Raptors), you see the East is jealous that the West is now(was) the economic, and world power.

    August 13, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  3. Acroyear

    Thank you!!! Now THAT is a clear an unequivocal statement of condemnation. No "but's" no "make allowances", no back handed insults to non-Muslims...a clear and concise statement that radicalism is something that no Muslim should be a part of... period.

    More of this please... and much louder... as you have said.

    Then you just might wrestle your image away from these monsters and earn our respect and even, yes, our acceptance and understanding.

    August 13, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  4. Reality

    What the imams should have said but didn't because they would lose their myth-based jobs:

    Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the massacre in Mumbai, the assassinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    August 13, 2010 at 9:06 am |
    • nola

      in summary you are saying???????????

      August 13, 2010 at 9:58 am |
    • Frogist

      Ahh Reality, so lacking in reality. You put down a group of people who have used their influence to promote peace between people and cultures and countries and still consider yourself above them because you are irreligious? Makes me ask why would anyone want to be without religion if they turn out as bitter and hateful. How's that high horse riding for ya?

      August 13, 2010 at 11:31 am |
    • Reality

      A summary:

      Islam is the biggest con job ever pulled on humankind. Islamic tenets are nothing but the fairy tales of an hallucinating, contriving, warmongering, womanizing Arab named Mohammed.

      August 13, 2010 at 11:31 am |
    • Al

      Reality = enigma

      August 13, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  5. john

    Well..islam is a religion of peace. Some fanatics using the name of islam doesn,t mean that the religion as a whole is bad. To wipe out the extermism, the injustice portrayed against muslims should be brought to end. Then only I believe all these issues will come to an end.

    August 13, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  6. AP

    Change the record, how many times have we heard this rubbish, they can proclaim this as many times as they like, they're almost trying to convince themselves.

    August 13, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  7. J.A.W.

    Nice to hear these Imans speaking out, BUT 9/11 was almost 9 years ago! Has it taken them this long just to come up with a condemnation of such acts! Seems to be a little "feige" (german for being chicken) waiting out time to see how people react.
    I would take it more seriosly if it had been issued on Sept. 10, 2001!

    August 13, 2010 at 7:24 am |
    • Soup

      Regardless of whether or not 9/11 was an important moment in history, it is not the only important moment in history. To say that this should have happened nine years ago is a flimsy criticism when many have been denouncing the attacks before now.

      August 13, 2010 at 8:37 am |
    • Nonimus

      "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." – from the article itself. You may want to read it sometime.

      August 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  8. DenzoD

    This has long been expected from Muslim Leaders who had been timid at best to denounce terrorists of Islamic backgrounds. It is high time that people of all faiths should come clean and explicitly support peaceful co-existence with people of different faiths and get away from archaic, tunnel-visioned view that people of different religious orientation than theirs are to be considered their "enemies". We have only one world to live in. We should learn to accept our different cultures and be tolerant of other religions. This is a challenge to Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the like who still have governments that prohibit other religions from being practised in their respective countries.

    August 13, 2010 at 6:04 am |
    • Frogist

      I agree DenzoD, except that it's not only a challenge to state sanctioned religious intolerance, but also to countries like the US where some people say they are for tolerance but do not practice what they preach.

      August 13, 2010 at 11:26 am |
    • Ana

      Well said; an admirable ideal to spread. I would add a codicil that would mandate: no proselytizing. People have a right to their beliefs in this country, but obviously not in some others. Religion shouldn't be allowed to be forced on anyone. As has been said before, this is the 21st Century, not the 10th.

      August 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
  9. W.G.

    Thank you Gentlemen for your compassion , could you please get the rest of the Islamic
    world to stop supporting the terrorists . It would really help .

    August 13, 2010 at 5:55 am |
  10. Tmk

    This is a step in the right direction. Regardless of how repetitive it may appear, muslim scholars especially in the west should not refrain from pointing out that ISLAM DOES NOT CONDONE SUICIDE OR ACTS OF TERRORISM. This is important in view of the emerging trend of western – born muslims being coscripted into terrorism.

    August 13, 2010 at 4:56 am |
  11. penpall

    It would have some meaning if it is enforced in every country plagued by terrorists. Any sanctions? How soon could we see results?? Anyway, it sounds good.

    August 13, 2010 at 4:55 am |
  12. salayem

    There is no such thing as radical Islam. There are radical Muslims.

    August 13, 2010 at 4:15 am |
    • SR

      The fact that this is the only religion where you have to issue an edict against "killing humans" says volumes about Islam.

      I am sick of all Moderates in Islam pretending to be "peace loving".

      You are all moderates because you haven't become extremists yet. You or Your children will be. That is a given if anyone takes 2 minutes out of their busy schedules to read up on Islamic History.

      August 13, 2010 at 10:24 am |
    • babysteps

      To SR:
      The reason why this document is issued is because the of the misrepresentation of Islam by terrorists who have "hijacked" the public image of Islam and painted it out to be a religion that promotes violence and killing of innocent people (the so-called "radical Mislims as saleyem pointed out). If that is the only voice that is heard, then that is what people will believe, so the need for true Muslims to set the record right. Its also funny that you claim to know an iota of Islamic history because if you did you would not be spewing hateful comments like the ones you have been – a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

      August 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @salayem,
      Good point!

      @SR,
      Only Islam? Seriously? Most religions, if not all, have been used repeatedly to justify killing. Crusades, Inquisition, Ireland, India/Pakistan, Bosnia, etc. etc.

      August 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • SR

      Nonimus:

      You are the first person in the West who called the India/Pakistan war a "religious war". That is strange. May be Pakistan, The Pure land of Muslims, considers it a religious war, but India is a Secular Democratic Republic. It cannot wage war just because it finds a religion offensive.

      August 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Twoods

      @SR

      Read up on Christian history and you will find that Islam and Christianity both have extremely bloody histories (Especially: the Crusades, persecution of Protestants in Europe, and persecution of Catholics in the early United States). That's because all of humanity has a bloody history, whether you divide it by nation or religion or color or any other.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  13. NICK

    Wonderful! About time and VERY OVERDUE. Silence from "true", "moderate" Muslims equals condoning the acts of terrorism, etc. Non-Muslims OFTEN wonder where the "peaceful Muslims" are in speaking out against what is most clearly presented from Islamics.
    Most likely, much too little, much too late.

    August 13, 2010 at 4:14 am |
  14. Mikefunnyman1126

    In Islam, even when an animal's life is taken for food, prayers are said and the meat this is eventually eaten is Halal. I have always wondered how these people, in the name of Islam kill others in the name of religion. One should know that the Holy Quran has many sections of the Torah ( Old Testament) and the Bible ( New Testament) incorporated in It and if "THOU SHALT NOT KILL" is claerly there, no amount of argument and justification allows one to kill.

    August 13, 2010 at 3:45 am |
    • Al

      Agree.

      August 13, 2010 at 4:11 am |
    • 123

      True.

      August 13, 2010 at 5:57 am |
    • SR

      The Qur'an is a cut and paste con job of all the earlier religious books. The fact that their founder is an illiterate man should tell you so much. That so many "rational" people in the West embrace this sorry one-trick book (plagiarism) tells us all we know about the state of their minds.

      August 13, 2010 at 10:19 am |
    • Nonimus

      I wish it were that simple, but AFAIK the Torah/OT only specifies no "murder".
      Not to mention that, again AFAIK, Islam acknowledges Judaism and Christianity (OT and NT) as important but essentially flawed interpretations of God's word, which is fully and finally revealed via Mohammed (sp?) in the Quran. Therefore, OT and NT are only authoritative if not contradicted by the Quran.
      (Muslims correct me if I'm incorrect.)

      August 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
    • magdi abdelmasih

      ARE YOU SURE THAT THE QURAN SAYS THOU SHALL NOT KILL? IN SORET ALBAGGARA(COW) MORE THAN 25 TIMES THE WORD KILL IS MENTIONED> PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TRANSLATION OF QURAN IN ENGLISH IS IN THE INTERNET.SO DO NOT FOUL US.

      August 29, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  15. andy

    from andy... take it home.. don't bother canadiians and other hard- working taxpayers with your religiuos and political problems....

    August 13, 2010 at 3:12 am |
  16. Al

    As a Muslim who has made his life in the USA, I say to Mr. Hooper: Condemnation of the terrorists needs to be repeated often, repeated to no end, repeated till there is no doubt, repeated in many formats (news media tv and print, public service messages, and much more). A one-time squeak of a condemnation is not enough. You will have to be more aggressive and convincing.

    August 13, 2010 at 3:04 am |
    • Al

      I meant to say convincing as in sincerity.

      August 13, 2010 at 3:09 am |
    • Schiff

      Indeed. They need to repeat it in sermons too, in different ways to start pulling muslims away from the hostile & aggressive sermons & statements. It's a good start anyhow. It's saudi arabia that needs to follow suit & then significant change will take place.

      August 13, 2010 at 6:04 am |
    • John E.Hopkinson

      Al, that is very well stated, and I hope that many others, including Canadians, read your post. Representatives of a Canadian Muslim society (Congress??) spoke similarly on the CBC program "The Current" this week.Everyone concerned needs to support those views. Indeed, the proclamations were rather obtuse and unconvincing, but the opportunity to say "why" must not be lost in the black hole of online commentary.
      Where do we go from here?

      August 13, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
    • Al

      John, a very legit question. I would be very interested in what your thoughts are on where we go from here. I say it's a good start, but actions will have to follow that demonstrate that all muslims are not hell-bent on destroying anyone, fringe groups are.

      August 15, 2010 at 3:41 am |
    • magdi abdelmasih

      YOU ALL ARE MISSING A VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE> IT IS NOT WHAT THE IMMAM SAYS IT IS WHAT THE QURAN SAYS>WHAT ABOUT SORET ELTOBA 5 AND9? DOES IT NOT SAY TO KILL ALL THE KNOWN BELIVER IN ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER?WHAT IMAMS SAID IS EXACTLY OPPOSITE TO THE QURAN. PLEASE BE REALISTIC

      August 29, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • magdi abdelmasih

      YOU ALL ARE MISSING A VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE> IT IS NOT WHAT THE IMMAM SAYS IT IS WHAT THE QURAN SAYS>WHAT ABOUT SORET ELTOBA 5 AND9? DOES IT NOT SAY TO KILL ALL THE NON BELIVER IN ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER?WHAT IMAMS SAID IS EXACTLY OPPOSITE TO THE QURAN. PLEASE BE REALISTIC

      August 29, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  17. Val

    It's a good start but haven't we heard that already?

    The problem with that statement is how do you define "the innocent"? No terrorist would admit to killing the innocent, they would tell you that they are all guilty. Hamas believes that every Israeli civilian they kill is guilty by virtue of having to serve in IDF, Al Qaeda believes that every American is guilty because they pay taxes that support US military.

    Another problem is that what kind of people need their preacher to tell them that killing is bad? Do you expect them to say something like - well, I better stop plotting that murder because my imam says I shouldn't do it? Most likely, however, he would just tune in to 10 other imams that preach just the opposite.

    August 13, 2010 at 2:59 am |
    • Al

      Then you have your answer, don't you? If one chooses to not follow the spirit of the holy books, then they are not true followers, are they? They just want to pick and choose the words from the books to fit their political and evil acts.

      August 13, 2010 at 3:14 am |
    • Val

      Al, if anyone can pick whatever he likes from a "holy book" to fit his/her personal convictions and agenda then what value is it to such a book?
      I'm sure that are plenty of peaceful passages in Koran and just as many truly horrific and violent ones. The same goes for Torah and New Testament. There is nothing "holy" about any of them, they are just a tool to control the weak minded, superstitious and ignorant.

      August 13, 2010 at 3:55 am |
  18. priyath

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

    RELIGION IS NOT MENTIONED.....
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    August 13, 2010 at 2:55 am |
    • Al

      Look up the meaning of creed in the dictionary, don't be trigger happy.

      August 13, 2010 at 3:07 am |
    • Jeff

      Do you know what "creed" means? How embarrassing for you.

      August 13, 2010 at 4:58 am |
    • AJ

      I know it's pitiful and i should be sad for you but I'm just laughing at your stupidity! haha

      August 13, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • derek

      The attempt to "pretty up" Islam will fail. I read here that Islam is not really a violent religion, etc., but what I read runs totally against the very blueprint of Islam–the Koran, which is one of the most militant and malicious of documents, particularly against the Jews, but of "infidels" (non-Muslims/non-believers) in general. People are still dying from the medical effects of 9/11There have been over 16,000 deaths due to Islamic terror since 9/11 and there is a new body count almost everyday on any front page. We will soon awaken to news that the first Islamic terror radiological bomb has been detonated somewhere in a Western nation, with a death toll of perhaps 10,000 or more. At that point, I believe Western societies will begin to OUTLAW Islam as "a violent and Totalitarian ideology." Here is the problem–there is a "religious" side to Islam. BUT, every scholar has pointed out that it is totally different than religions as we understand them, and is equally a total SOCIO-POLITICAL system with strict laws. Many of these laws are in DIRECT opposition to democracy, the Constitution or any respect of human free will or individual conscience. As I write, the Courts of Egypt have condemned a man AND his family TO DEATH for the crime of converting to Christianity. He was DENIED the right to convert by the court. "Clerics" can call for the death of ANYONE considered "a Threat To Islam." Is this "religion???" No, in my book it is pure Totalitarianism. Truth is, Islam is at War with ITSELF. I do not see that changing. I do not see any marches of "The Million Muslims March Against Islamic Terror" or "Million Muslim March For Koranic Reform." Ain't gonna happen. Islam's tenet of being "perfect" and "the only true religion" coupled with an ideology that endorses subjugation, lying and, yes–death as legitimate means to spread and rule, is simply not going to go away. NOT until it is RECOGNIZED equally as a Totalitarian socio-political movement and separated from being lumped together with Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, etc. Islamic terror bombings are ALL mass killing methods, indiscriminate of the innocence of victims. Buddhist monks who self-immolated in protest of the Vietnam War NEVER EVER TOOK ANYONE ELSE'S LIFE. And therein is the difference.

      August 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
    • SCOTO

      Its the subjective interpretation of "innocent" that causes me problems. Bin Laden and his followers doesn't think any Americans are "innocent"

      August 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
    • John E.Hopkinson

      So, according to this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creed

      priyath is just fine with the interpretation. Social, religious, or political belief. What is your problem. A bias toward narrow interpretations to suit your (religious) beliefs? ???

      August 13, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • Al

      I disagree. Priyath is not fine with his interpretation. You are pointing out synonyms of creed (point well taken). Here's the dictional meaning:

      creed |krēd|
      noun
      a system of Christian or other religious belief; a faith : people of many creeds and cultures.

      I believe religion was not left out as priyath claims.

      August 15, 2010 at 3:34 am |
    • Guest

      hey moron look up the definition of the word creed

      September 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Mr A

      Look up the definition of "creed" you illiterate moron

      October 17, 2010 at 3:27 am |
    • Mr A

      @derek. I am a Muslim who has read the Quran. You have no clue what you're talking about. "Infidels" refers to adulterers. And the death penalty for adulterers is NOT prescribed in the Quran (its in the Hadith). By comparison, try reading the Bible in its entirety and tell me what you think of its judgment on adulterers and women who don't cover their heads. But of course, it's much better to get it off Fox News, right?

      October 17, 2010 at 3:31 am |
  19. Idris

    The main problem is not extremist, but main stream Islam leadership. Imans and scholars. They are not in touch with realities, not reaching out to people. Not getting the message out. We are not doing enough to address the really problems affecting millions of muslims. But the so called Jihadis are doing exactly that. Look at the Flood is Pakistan. Who is reaching out with aid more faster and efficiently , they the classifiied radicals. The know the problem on the ground. If I am starving I will surely listen to my provider.
    Let us not just give verdic to please our host. Let us address the really cause of hopleness that gives the fertile ground to radicalism.

    Be real be current and direct.

    August 13, 2010 at 2:55 am |
  20. AReader

    Its nice to see a "calming" article in this blog. They seem so rare these days. I just had a curious notion. Don't the issuing of "fatwas" and other "proclamations" bear a similarity to a post in a blog?
    And why proclaim anything, if its just an exercise of self-aggrandizement or other vain pursuit? Because of the intent.
    Instead of being a hatemonging, fearmonging, or demagogue type of proclamation, we have one that seeks to remind everyone that individuals commit crimes, not ideological groups of whatever stripe.

    August 13, 2010 at 2:05 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.