We are Muslims who live in the 21st century. We stand for a respectful, merciful and inclusive interpretation of Islam. We are in a battle for the soul of Islam, and an Islamic renewal must defeat the ideology of Islamism, or politicized Islam, which seeks to create Islamic states, as well as an Islamic caliphate. We seek to reclaim the progressive spirit with which Islam was born in the 7th century to fast forward it into the 21st century. We support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by United Nations member states in 1948.
We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. Facing the threat of terrorism, intolerance, and social injustice in the name of Islam, we have reflected on how we can transform our communities based on three principles: peace, human rights and secular governance. We are announcing today the formation of an international initiative: the Muslim Reform Movement.
We have courageous reformers from around the world who have written our Declaration for Muslim Reform, a living document that we will continue to enhance as our journey continues. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.
A. Peace: National Security, Counterterrorism and Foreign Policy
- We stand for universal peace, love and compassion. We reject violent jihad. We believe we must target the ideology of violent Islamist extremism, in order to liberate individuals from the scourge of oppression and terrorism both in Muslim-majority societies and the West.
- We stand for the protection of all people of all faiths and non-faith who seek freedom from dictatorships, theocracies and Islamist extremists.
- We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.
B. Human Rights: Women’s Rights and Minority Rights
- We stand for human rights and justice. We support equal rights and dignity for all people, including minorities. We support the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
- We reject tribalism, castes, monarchies and patriarchies and consider all people equal with no birth rights other than human rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Muslims don’t have an exclusive right to “heaven.”
- We support equal rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance, witness, work, mobility, personal law, education, and employment. Men and women have equal rights in mosques, boards, leadership and all spheres of society. We reject sexism and misogyny.
C. Secular Governance: Freedom of Speech and Religion
- We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty. We are against political movements in the name of religion. We separate mosque and state. We are loyal to the nations in which we live. We reject the idea of the Islamic state. There is no need for an Islamic caliphate. We oppose institutionalized sharia. Sharia is manmade.
- We believe in life, joy, free speech and the beauty all around us. Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights. We reject blasphemy laws. They are a cover for the restriction of freedom of speech and religion. We affirm every individual’s right to participate equally in ijtihad, or critical thinking, and we seek a revival of ijtihad.
- We believe in freedom of religion and the right of all people to express and practice their faith, or non-faith, without threat of intimidation, persecution, discrimination or violence. Apostasy is not a crime. Our ummah–our community–is not just Muslims, but all of humanity.
We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!
Affirmed this Fourth Day of December, Two-Thousand and Fifteen
By the founding authors who are signatories below
Tahir Gora, Author, Journalist, Activist, Toronto, Canada
Tawfik Hamid, Islamic Thinker and Reformer, Oakton, VA, USA
Usama Hasan, Imam, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
Arif Humayun, Senior Fellow, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Portland, OR, USA
Farahnaz Ispahani, Author, Former Member of Parliament, Pakistan, Washington, D.C., USA,
M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, AZ USA
Mohamad Jebara, Imam, Cordova Center, Ottawa, Canada
Naser Khader, Member, Danish Parliament, Muslim democracy activist,Copenhagen, Denmark
Courtney Lonergan, Community Outreach Director, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Professional facilitator
Hasan Mahmud, Resident expert in sharia, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
Asra Nomani, Journalist, Author, Morgantown, WV, USA
Raheel Raza, Founder, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
Sohail Raza, Vice President, Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations
Salma Siddiqui, President, Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, Toronto, Canada
…affirmed at 8 AM this Fourth Day of December, Two-Thousand and Fifteen
Comment: The Muslim Reform Movement was created at the initiative of Zuhdi Jasser, a Syrian-American , the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and the author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith (Simon & Schuster, June 2012). On March 20, 2012, Dr. Jasser was appointed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) where he currently serves as a Commissioner.
Dr Jasser’s parents fled the oppressive Baath regime of Syria in the mid-1960’s, for American freedom. He is “leading the fight to shake the hold that the Muslim Brotherhood and their network of American Islamist organizations and mosques seek to exert on organized Islam in America.” As a result, he is often the target of CAIR, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, some leaders of which are allegedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Dr. Jasser is also actively involved in the Syrian-American community as the co-founder of Save Syria Now! which was formed by Americans of Syrian descent to put pressure on the United States to call for immediate action to end the regime of Bashar Assad of Syria and to help bring true liberty to the people of Syria. Dr. Jasser briefed members of the U.S. House of Representatives on the situation in Syria in July 2011 and again on June 25, 2013.
Dr. Jasser regularly briefs members of the House and Senate on the threat of Political Islam. Dr. Jasser testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security on March 10, 2011 on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response “ and again on June 20, 2012 on “The American Muslim Response to Hearings on Radicalization within their Community.” On June 24, 2011 he testified before the Constitution Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives on the importance ofHR 963 “The See Something, Say Something” Act of 2011. Dr. Jasser testified before the United States House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on “Anti-Semitism: A Growing Threat to All Faiths” on February 27, 2013 and again on December 10, 2013 on “Human Rights Abuses in Egypt.”
Dr Jasser is considered to be politically conservative and has been accused of being a “neo-con”. The AIFD does not represent a majority movement in the US Muslim community but has some influence.