Reformist Muslim Organizations in North America
by David M. Swindle • Mar 27, 2017
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Muslim residents of Dearborn, Michigan, spontaneously celebrate news of Osama bin Laden's death in 2011.
Following the launch of the Middle East Forum's campaign to end Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) funding for two Islamic extremist organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief, we have received numerous inquiries about which moderate Muslim-American organizations are deserving of funding by SVCF and other foundations.
The following list is a good place to start.
Whereas CAIR and Islamic relief preach intolerance, social insularity, and distrust of law enforcement to American Muslims, these organizations advocate universal human rights and work to bring about greater inclusion and integration of Muslims into American society.
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD)
AIFD was founded in March 2003 by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, an Arizona-based physician, former naval officer, and author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save His Faith (2012). The organization defines its mission as "actively confronting the ideology of political Islam" and "stand[ing] firmly for universal human rights – including gender equality, freedom of conscience, and freedom of speech and expression."
The Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP)
CIP was founded in 2004 by Sufi Muslim Stephan Suleyman Schwartz, and seven other reform-minded Muslims, including Dr. Jasser and Professor Salim Mansur, director of its Canadian branch. Schwartz serves as the executive director and emphasizes the importance of understanding and defeating Wahhabism, the ultra-conservative religious creed that helped give rise to Al-Qaeda.
Muslims Facing Tomorrow
Describing its mission as "to reclaim Islam for, as the word itself means, securing Peace for all people, and to oppose extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion," Muslims Facing Tomorrow is a Canadian organization led by its president Raheel Raza and Vice President Salim Mansur.
Shireen Qudosi is a Muslim Reformer, political activist, and publisher of The Qudosi Chronicles, a publication declaring itself, "The Voice of Muslim Reformers." On September 22, 2016 Qudosi testified in favor of Muslim reform before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency of the House Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. Congress
The Muslim Reform Movement
Launched in December 2015, the Muslim Reform Movement brought together reformers from multiple organizations in support of a declaration of principles advocating peace, human rights, women's rights, minority rights, and secular governance. Its most visible leader is former Georgetown professor Asra Nomani.
The International Quranic Center (IQC)
IQC was founded by Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour to advocate Quranism, a moderate interpretation of Islam that rejects hadiths – reported words and sayings of Muhammad – as a doctrinal guide, accepting only the Quran as "comprehensive, completely sufficient in itself." Islamists, whose beliefs rely heavily on hadiths, vigorously oppose Quranism. Mansour was granted political asylum in the United States in 2002 after suffering years of persecution in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups.
The American Islamic Congress (AIC)
The AIC was co-founded in 2001 after 9/11 by Zeinab Al-Suwaij, its executive director. Its principles include championing religious pluralism, condemning intolerance, and protecting the rights of minorities in the Muslim world. Programs of the AIC include promoting interfaith councils, advocating for legislation favoring religious freedom and civil rights abroad, and hosting Muslim film festivals.
The World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE)
The WORDE was founded with a mission "to enhance communication and understanding between communities to mitigate social and political conflict." Led by Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi, founder and president and co-author of The Other Muslims: Moderate and Secular, WORDE engages in government outreach, community engagement, and publications to promote its message. WORDE also sponsors a Club House, "an innovation space, where Muslim scholars explore, test and refine alternative messaging to violent extremist organizations like ISIS."
David M. Swindle is the Coordinator of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveSwindle and Islamist Watch at @Islamist_Watch
Related Topics: Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslims in the United States | David M. Swindle
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