Muslim Clergy Urged to Decry Terrorism
By David Yonke
Blade Religion Editor

After the July 7 train bombings in London, Dr. Mahjabeen Islam felt compelled to do something to help stop terrorists from committing more atrocities in the name of Islam.
It is her duty as a Muslim, the Toledo physician said: “There is a premise in Islam, amar bil maaroof wa nahin anal munkar, which means the Qur’an commands us to promote the good and prevent the evil,” said Dr. Islam, chair of the Ohio chapter of the American Muslim Alliance and cofounder of the United Muslim Association of Toledo.
Her desire to try to prevent terrorism inspired Dr. Islam to create the Project Friday Khutba, a program that asks Muslim clergy to denounce terrorism and suicide bombings every Friday during their khutbas - Arabic for sermons.
The Friday khutba is mandatory for all Muslim males, she said, so if an imam makes it clear each week that suicide bombing is haram, or forbidden, by the Qur’an, he may have an impact on an impressionable and disillusioned young person who is beginning to think that terrorism may be acceptable.
“Most of the perpetrators are 18 to 23 years old,” Dr. Islam said. “To reach out, you must reach out to the very young Muslim mind that is just developing. If you can reach them when they are 14, 15 years old, the reverberation of the message that terrorism is haram might penetrate the mind of someone contemplating violence.”
Dr. Islam was invited by Rabbi Sam Weinstein of The Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim in Sylvania, to give a talk on Project Friday Khutba last night.
“Obviously, I think it’s a very worthy project to try to influence opinion, certainly in the Muslim community, regarding the attitudes people have vis-a-vis suicide bombers and terrorism,” Rabbi Weinstein said this week. “I also think it’s important to try to build bridges with interfaith communities.”
Statements denouncing terrorism are worth repeating, he added.
The importance of the message makes it worth repeating, the rabbi said.
“I think it’s something that needs to be confirmed on a continual basis. The side condoning terrorism is constantly reaffirming it to their adherents,” he said. “I think if there’s going to be any type of reform in Islam, it’s going to come from the inner debate that Muslims have regarding these issues, and not because it’s going to be imposed from the outside. That’s why I think this is so critical.”
Imam Farooq Abo-Elzahab, spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, said he doesn’t need any reminders to speak out against terrorism and suicide bombings.
“Every time something like that happens, we speak about it immediately, the whole issue, educating our people about the sacredness of human life,” Imam Farooq said.
He said Project Friday Khutba may be helpful to some Muslim communities where terrorism is not regularly denounced, but he feels the project is not needed at his Perrysburg mosque.
Ziad al-Hummos, president of the Masjid Saad, said his West Toledo mosque’s policy is to condemn terrorism on a regular basis.
“It’s a wonderful idea, but she really didn’t add anything new,” Mr. al-Hummos said. “We’ve been following this policy in our mosque for quite some time.”
Dr. Islam, a native of Pakistan who has been in Toledo 22 years, said she has sent notices to 1,000 members of a Pakistani-American doctors’ association suggesting that the physicians ask their imams join Project Friday Khutba and denounce terrorism and suicide bombings.
“I ask them to go to your imam and tell them to take responsibility. We need to get our house in order,” Dr. Islam said.
“I believe that suicide is a ticket to hell, and taking someone with you is a confirmed reservation,” she said. (Courtesy Toledo Blade)

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