March 2, 2009
The US Institute for Peace (USIP) issued a report last month entitled “Islamic Peacemaking Since 9/11“. Summary:
- Muslims in general and Muslim leaders particularly have often been severely criticized for not more energetically condemning the violent acts of Muslim extremists.
- Violent extremists are on one edge of the Muslim community. They are counter-balanced by a growing movement of Muslim peacemakers.
- Equally as notable as Islamic militancy but less noted are Muslims’ 1) widespread condemnation of terrorism and other violent acts; 2) promotion of interfaith dialogue; 3) education of Muslim youth and reeducation of extremist Muslims; and 4) promotion of peaceful conflict resolution.
The report concludes:
It is common knowledge that some Muslims espouse extremist interpretations of Islam, and some of these extremists engage in religiously motivated violence. But what is much less widely recognized is the extent of peacebuilding within the worldwide Muslim community. A large majority of Muslims denounce religiously motivated violence and are disgusted by the abuse of their religion. Evidence of this can be seen in Muslim leaders’ widespread condemnation of terrorism and religiously motivated violence around the world after 9/11, as well as after recent events in India. In addition, this report has described the efforts of many Muslim organizations and leaders to promote more frequent and effective dialogue with Christians and Jews to enhance mutual understanding and create practical steps to improve relations. Efforts are also under way in many places to vigorously educate Muslim youth about the core Islamic teachings of tolerance, peace, and pluralism. In addition, governments and institutions in Muslim countries are working to reeducate Muslim extremists about the falsity of the doctrines they advocate and to find alternative nonviolent methods to express their discontent.
Finally, there are growing indications of Muslim individuals and organizations promoting peaceful conflict resolution.
While the number of Muslim peacebuilding organizations is rising, many are small and struggling financially. International donors could make an important contribution to world peace by aiding these organizations and strengthening their programs. Several American Muslim organizations have recognized the important roles they can play in reinforcing pluralism within Islam worldwide, and they should be encouraged and supported. Muslim leaders who promote nonviolence, pluralism, and tolerance should be recognized and their efforts publicized. Key Muslim organizations around the world are mobilizing to counter extremism within Islam, and they should be applauded.
The report is well worth a read, and provides a viewpoint we don’t get in the mainstream media, because it doesn’t sell papers.