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From the American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC)
Statement of Purpose of the AILC: As American Muslim leaders, we come together to defend the U.S. Constitution, uphold religious pluralism, protect American security and cherish genuine diversity in the practice of our faith of Islam.
Editor's note: This communique was released by the AILC in July 2011
The American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) is a group of more than 25 organizations and leaders that are representative of the overwhelming “silent majority” of Muslims in America, who, like our brethren of other faiths, span a wide gamut of religious beliefs and adhere to diverse social and cultural practices. AILC was established in September of 2010 in Washington, D.C. Our mission is: “to defend the U.S. Constitution, uphold religious pluralism, protect American security and cherish genuine diversity in the practice of our faith.”
We acknowledge that Muslim radicalization is a ‘Muslim problem that requires a Muslim-led solution.’ The general failure of Muslims to confront radicalization head on has contributed to a rising tide of fear of Muslims in the West, which jeopardizes the prospects of a peaceful and harmonious future for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Unlike most Muslim grievance groups, which deny and evade their American and Islamic responsibilities to lead counter-radicalization and reform efforts, AILC believes that it is our duty as Muslims, and Americans, to assist our government, our fellow citizens and our co-religionists in taking the difficult steps necessary to halt Muslim radicalization. For in the final analysis, only Muslims can counter and discredit the virulent theo-political ideologies that feed radicalization.
In the words of Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid (1940 – 2009), Indonesia’s first democratically-elected president and long-time head of the world’s largest Muslim organization, the Nahdlatul Ulama: we seek to “restore honor and respect to Islam, which the extremists have desecrated… People who are convinced that they know more than anyone else about Islam, and yet are full of hatred towards any of God’s creatures who do not travel the same path as they; and those who claim to be in possession of the absolute truth, and for that reason entitled to act as God’s vice-regents (caliphs) on earth and to dictate how everyone else must live—clearly, their words and behavior will not lead us into the presence of God. Their dream of an Islamic state is merely an illusion, for the true Islamic state is not to be found in the structure of any government, but rather, in hearts which are open to God and all His creatures.”1
Our national counterterrorism strategy has, to date, consisted of little more than a “whack-a-mole” program, which has yet to prescribe any comprehensive treatment directed at the root cause of Islamist terrorism, the theocratic, statist ideology of political Islam. For this reason, ten years after 9-11, the threat of homegrown Islamist terror has never been greater. Rather than continue to bury our collective heads in the sand, we must courageously recognize, acknowledge and act upon the fact that the vast majority of contemporary terrorism is fueled by Islamist ideology. Militancy and violence are natural outgrowths of “Islamism”—a hate-filled, supremacist and all-encompassing ideology of political Islam that mixes religion and state, and seeks to impose its “distorted interpretation of Islam” on others, through a theocratic government based on medieval concepts of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) also known as shari‘a.
On June 28, 2011, the White House published its “National Strategy for Counterterrorism” (NSCT). AILC’s leadership team has reviewed and jointly drafted this communiqué in response to the NSCT, in order to provide policy makers, public intellectuals, the media and the general public with concrete insights from American Muslim leaders, who regard it as our human and religious duty to speak out against terrorism, and more importantly, against the ideology that underlies and animates it.
AILC members have joined together to help wage, and win, the ideological struggle (jihad) against Islamism from within the House of Islam. As Muslims who categorically reject the notion that there is any conflict between our faith and loyalty to our nation and its constitution, we feel a profound sense of responsibility to respond to the NSCT; to commend its merits; identify areas that cause us concern; and respectfully recommend that the U.S. government adopt certain approaches that we believe will facilitate the successful implementation of the NSCT, and help achieve its national and international peace and security objectives.