Global Muslim delegation issues unprecedented statement against Anti-Semitism
May 28, 2013: On the heels of an historic and emotional journey from Dachau to Auschwitz to see one of the great tragedies of the 20th century, some of the most influential Muslim leaders in the world are releasing a powerful statement that unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism.
The May 18-24 trip included Imams, Sheikhs, Islamic educators and leaders from nine countries: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bosnia, Palestine, Indonesia, India, Nigeria, Turkey and the US. It was led by Rabbi Jack Bemporad of the Center for Interreligious Understanding (CIU) and organized by the CIU and Prof. Marshall Breger of The Catholic University of America and former Jewish community liaison to the Reagan White House, and Suhail Khan, Senior Fellow, Institute for Global Engagement and former GW Bush liaison to the Muslim community.
Also joining this private delegation in his first official act was Secretary of State John Kerry’s newly appointed Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Ira Forman; the State Department’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Ambassador Michael Kozak; and Rashid Hussain, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
As a result of visiting the concentration camps, meeting Survivors and Righteous Among Nations (those who tried to save Jews,) and learning the history of “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” with a united voice these Muslim leaders issue the following statement against Holocaust Denial, condemning anti-Semitism, and pledging to fight the misuse of the Holocaust as a leading propaganda tool to foment anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiment.
Statement of Muslim Intellectuals, Community Leaders and Imams on the Holocaust
‘O you who believe, stand up firmly for justice as witnesses to Almighty God.” (Holy Qu’ran, al-Nisa “The Women” 4:135)
On May 18-24, 2013, we the undersigned Muslim intellectuals, community leaders and imams visited the sites of the Holocaust in Poland and Germany where we witnessed firsthand the historical injustice of the Holocaust.
We met survivors who, several decades later, vividly and bravely shared their horrific experience of discrimination, suffering, and loss. We saw the many chilling places where men, women and children were systematically and brutally murdered by the millions because of their faith, race, disability and political affiliation.
In Islam, the destruction of one innocent life is like the destruction of the whole of humanity and the saving of one life is like the saving of the whole of humanity (Holy Qu’ran, al-Ma’idah “the Tablespread” 5:32). While entire communities perished by the many millions, we know that Muslims from Bosnia, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, and Albania saved many Jews from brutal repression, torture and senseless destruction. Indeed, we met and were touched by the experiences of several righteous people of all faiths who saved many innocent lives from destruction.
We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where millions upon millions of human souls perished, more than half of whom were people of the Jewish faith.
We acknowledge, as witnesses, that it is unacceptable to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters in condemning anti-Semitism in any form. No creation of Almighty God should face discrimination based on faith or religious conviction.
We stand united as Muslim intellectuals, community leaders and imams and recognize that we have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to resist the dehumanization, displacement and genocide of all peoples based on their religion, race, gender or ethnicity. With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth, peace and justice.
Together, we pledge to make real the commitment of “never again” and to stand united against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today.
Imam Muzammil Siddiqi
Islamic Society of Orange County
Chairman, Fiqh Council of North America
Orange County, California, USA
Imam Mohamed Magid
All-Dulles-Area Muslim Society
President, Islamic Society of North America
Dulles, Virginia, USA
Dr. Mohammad Rayyan (PhD)
Department of Foundations of Religion
Faculty of Shariah
Islamic theologian and columnist
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dr. H. Andullah Rahim Yunus
Professor, Islamic History, Allauddin State Islamic University
Executive Chairman at Indonesian Moslem Scholar Association
American businessman and Muslim committed to interfaith understanding
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Businessman and interfaith advocate
Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Ahmet Muharrem Atlig
Secretary General of the Journalists & Writers Foundation Platform for Intercultural Dialogue
Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi
All India Imam Organization
New Delhi, India
Suhail A. Khan
Institute for Global Engagement
Washington, D.C. USA
Due to sensitive work in their home countries, several additional signatories wish to remain anonymous.
Imam Dr. Ahmet Muharrem Atlig, Turkey
Secretary General of the Journalists and Writers Association (Istanbul) former Imam in London
“I came here with a lot of information about Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Holocaust. I didn’t expect this would be my turning point but it is and I’ve made many decisions here. As soon as possible I will bring my family here. With my organization, I will organize Turkish Imams and Muftis to go to Holocaust sites. My people don’t know what happened here. It’s not an agenda; it’s a reality. This is not Jewish heritage; it’s world heritage. Jewish people were mostly affected but the lessons are global. Here it’s beyond information. We touched survivors, heard stories, we cried here. These things moved me.”
Dr. Barakat Fawzi Hasan, Palestine
Assistant Professor of Islamic Education at Al-Quds University
Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education
Producer/presenter on Palestinian satellite TV for the Jerusalem Center for Studies and Islamic Media programs
“For me Auschwitz means a difficult situation. It means collectively punishing. It means genocidal killing of civilian people…children, women, without any reason. This is what it means for me. It means evil things, a terrible past, and at the same time, it means hope.
Why hope? Because the people here in Europe, with what they have faced in the past, they have overcome the discrimination, all the terrible things. And now they live with peace…with safety. This means we can, in the Holy Land, do the same thing. We can overcome our conflict, our wars, our people who were killed, and we can talk together to reach a peace.”
Muhamed Jusic, Bosnia
Islamic Theologian and Bosnian Columnist
“Coming from Bosnia, going through the experience of genocide and the 92-95 war, seeing what I saw here, it just saddens me to see these things keep repeating and we didn’t learn anything from history. After Auschwitz and Dachau, humanity said Never Again. But with the rise in the far right, self-evident in Europe in the same towns we visited, I wonder how sincere we were in that. I will do everything to have this not happen to my children or anybody in the world. We can’t change history but we must do whatever we can against such evil.”
Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, India
Chief Imam of the All India Imam Organization (AIOIM), the largest Imam organization in the world, representing half a million Imams and two hundred million Indian Muslims
“This is just the beginning of something which we have started. We will take it forward from here, on personal and professional levels. We should all remember we are all one family and cousins from the same root; we should strive to make us closer on every front. Amen.”
Dr. H. Abd Rahim Yunus, Indonesia
Professor of Islamic History at Alauddin State Islamic University of Makassar Vice Chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council of South Sulawesi
“There is no acceptable argument in good common sense or conscience that can justify the barbaric acts as committed by Nazi Germany; moreover, measured by the value of religious views, the action is so damned. In the view of Islam, humans are the most noble creature (Q 17:70), whoever kills one man, it is as if he all men (Q.5:32); and whoever saves one man it is as if he saved all lives (Q.5:32).
The incident of the Holocaust that killed 12 million human beings, 6 million of them Jews, means I will and must invite my brother Muslims and Arabs to accept the presence of Jews in the State of Israel, living side by side with other countries in the world, especially in the Middle East. In addition, I also invite my Jewish brothers to provide a place for our brother Arabs (Muslims and Christians) to establish their state in Palestine. They must not be left stranded in exile. The two countries should co-exist peacefully. Without this peace, the threat of human massacre remains constant and relentless, both present and future.”
Dr. Safi Kaskas, Saudi Arabia
President and CEO of Strategic Edge Management Consultants
Board member of Trac5, which works on faith-based conflict resolution
“After seeing Auschwitz, I feel that I shall no longer be silent when witnessing injustice. For not speaking against injustice is a betrayal to being a part of the human race.
In Dachau we listened to a survivor. He was in his nineties and he very eagerly and emotionally told the tragic story of his survival. I was very moved until his last comment, which hit me like a truck. He said half jokingly: ‘We are still the most hated minority in the world.’ I felt like my heart was pulled out of my chest. This man is still feeling injustice. He is still suffering. After all the suffering the Jews have been through, as it is evident in Dachau and Auschwitz, it is high time for them to be what their Creator meant for them to be; a blessing to their neighbors. And instead of accepting that they are a hated minority, they should become, through living their belief and telling their stories, the example for all of humanity to follow.
I was listening to the Warsaw Ghetto story; I started thinking that the revolt was an assertion of Jewish pride in the face of much greater forces. Hence it was it was heroic. But the lesson learned should be that we should never again live in a ghetto. Is Israel the answer for the future survival of the Jews or is it a larger ghetto that will feed Jewish pride but fail to deliver the future safety of the Jewish people? There is a way to survive in the Middle East with Israel’s neighbors. It requires courage to face the present and resolve to find innovative solutions. I know that the Jewish people are capable of both.”
SA Ibrahim, Philadelphia PA
S.A. Ibrahim is an American Muslim business executive committed to interfaith engagement
“Could I have ever imagined anything more horrible or sicker minds? Even worse was the realization that this was the work of intelligent humans driven by the goal of fulfilling their gruesome task in an “uber” efficient manner. Once you have seen such sights, shock, horror and sorrow are but weak reactions. Nothing short of a complete and unified commitment to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again could ever serve as a worthy memorial to the victims or a fitting condemnation of those responsible.
As I bought a book at the Jewish Museum in Munich, the young woman at the counter expressed curiosity about our group. I explained that the group included a Rabbi and Muslim Imams from around the world, on the way to Dachau and Auschwitz to pray for the victims and to condemn the Holocaust. The young woman said she had never imagined such a thing possible, as tears filled her eyes. What could be a more important tribute to the memory of the Holocaust victims than making people feel differently about each other in a more positive way as a step towards ensuring that the words ‘Never Again,’ indeed become a reality?”
Rabbi Jack Bemporad, New Jersey, USA
Executive Director, Center for Interreligious Understanding (CIU)
Director, John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue (Rome)
“The most important part of this trip is the recognition that the horrendous suffering that took place here in Auschwitz can only be overcome if people are willing to take up more than their share of bringing about a common good. If people are strictly interested in their immediate needs and security and safety without being concerned with the tragic suffering in the world and striving in ways to rectify it, there’s no reason that these horrible things may not recur.
I think that the Muslim leaders who came here, having very little knowledge in many cases of the Shoah, are now convinced that any kind of Holocaust Denial or Holocaust Revisionism is simply out of the question. These leaders from all over the world, including the Middle East, categorically rejected Holocaust Denial and all forms of anti-Semitism and they are committed to making that clear to their vast constituencies.”
Prof. Marshall Breger, Washington, DC, USA
The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
Special assistant to President Reagan and liaison to the Jewish Community
“These Muslim leaders came away understanding not just the reality of the Holocaust which they had not been taught in their own societies, but understanding as well its effect on the Jewish soul. To watch these leaders learn the tragic story and engage with both Survivors and Righteous Among Nations whom we met in Germany and Poland was a profoundly moving experience. No one who saw them prostrate in prayer in front of the execution wall at Auschwitz can doubt the sincerity of their response. And when one Imam told me that he came to the camps believing that this was a Jewish story but left understanding that it was a human tragedy, I felt my hopes for the trip were fulfilled.”
Suhail A. Khan, Washington, DC, USA
Senior Fellow for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Institute for Global Engagement
President GW Bush’s liaison to the Muslim community
“Visiting the historical sites of unimaginable horror, meeting with survivors and hearing of their harrowing experiences firsthand, one struggles to understand how men could have done such unspeakable things to so many innocent men, women & children. We live, no doubt, in a broken world. And yet, the bravery of the survivors and the compassion of those who saved many from murder serve to remind us that there is indeed compassion, kindness and redemption. We came to bear witness to the historical reality of the Holocaust, and in doing so, we pledge to make real the commitment of ‘never again’ and to struggle against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today.”