Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Violence
The horrendous brutalities of ISIS and other like-minded groups have created tremendous outrage not only among non-Muslims but also within the Muslim communities all over the US. Despite their efforts, the voices of Muslims against violence in the name of Islam remained relatively underpublicized. On April 23rd, the Atlantic Institute organized an event titled "Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Violence" which included local Muslims in South Florida to unequivocally condemn violence in the name of Islam and express their perspectives. The speakers were Mustafa Yucekaya (Exec. Director, Atlantic Institute), Dr. Abdul Samra (Imam, Miami Gardens Masjid), Dr. Aslihan Akkaya (Instructor, Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University), Diego Salgado (Product Specialist, Aquatic Stone), Kamil Bahadir (Imam, Turkish American Islamic Institute), and Wilfredo Ruiz, Esq. (Civil Rights Attorney, CAIR).
Mr. Yucekaya was the first to speak, and he referred to the message from the prominent Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, who strongly condemned ISIS in articles that appeared in New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, LA Times and Chicago Tribune. Mr. Yucekaya underlined that the brutal acts of the ISIS terrorist group are a disgrace to the faith they proclaim and are crimes against humanity. Next, Imam Abdul Samra took stage, who emphasized again that all Muslims around the world strongly condemn ISIS. He noted that any religion who promotes killing of innocent people is not good, and extremists want to use religion for their own interests. Dr. Akkaya approached the topic from an anthropologist perspective. She gave as an example the witch trials in the state of Massachusetts in the past, where people used justifications from the Bible for brutal acts. She argued that today's extremists, in a related way, try to justify their violence from the Holy Qur'an. She used the concept of 'scriptural literalism' to explain roots of the violence, and argued that such an approach does not consider context and meaningful interpretation.
Mr. Salgado noted that Columbia, which is the country he was born, also suffered from a lot of violence. He said that he approached Islam as a religion of peace, and he found Turkish model as a modern and peaceful interpretation of Islam. Mr. Ruiz explained that as Muslims, we should live Islam and be role models. He continued to argue that whatever promotes violence and terrorism can not come from Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. What can be done? Mr. Ruiz expressed that we should educate public about what is allowed and what is not in the religion. There has been recruiting to İSİS from our nation; according to Mr. Ruiz, individuals who may have extremist behavior can be identified, and we as a community together can find a solution. Finally, Imam Kamil Bahadir cited several verses from the Qur'an related to how Islam sees violence. Islam literally means peace in Arabic. It defends freedom of thought and tolerance, and defends that there shall be no compulsion in religion. According to the Holy Qur'an, to kill an innocent people is one of the major sins. The even finished with a brief question and answer session.