Istanbul, 2 July 2006 ce
IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL
“O mankind! Behold, We have created you from a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the most pious among you… Behold, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Al-Hujur’at, 49:13).
- Islam’s presence in Europe is not a new phenomenon but a historically long and culturally rich one. Its interaction with European society sparked a flower-ing in knowledge. Large numbers of Muslims have continuously inhabited the Balkans, Eastern and Central Europe for hundreds of years. Muslims have played an important role in the transfer and production of knowledge to and in Europe. They have subsequently helped to rebuild the economies of a war torn continent in the 1950s, arriving as immigrants seeking employment and settling to make Europe their home. In almost every field of life Muslims have thus been an integral part of the European tapestry. European Muslims today are at home in Europe; they have been contributors to Europe ‘s past and are stakeholders in its future.
- We recognise that European societies value openness, inclusiveness and democracy. European Muslims have a great opportunity to flourish as citizens in a pluralistic environment benefiting from access to education, prosperity and development. As citizens Muslims are obliged by Islamic law to obey the legislation of their countries particularly when they enjoy freedom of worship and benefit from social justice. As loyal citizens they are obliged to defend their countries against aggressors.
- Similarly in accordance with the teachings of Islam, Muslims also have a duty to promote social harmony and good relations with their neighbours. The virtues of decency, goodness and ethical conduct in all aspects of life are espoused repeatedly in the Holy Qur’an. They are given primary importance and govern Muslim behaviour in all roles of life including that of active citizen- ship. Following the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the high standard which it sets, Muslims can enrich Europe as exemplary members of society and role models of decency and goodness (ma’ruf), as the Holy Qur’an stipulates:
“Behold, God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards one’s fellow-men” (Al-Nahl, 16:90,).
- One of the principles of a democratic society is freedom of religion. Islam also recognises freedom of religion, and like Europe today, gives this ethical ethos particularly strict importance. As stated by God in the Holy Qur’an , people cannot be coerced into belief:
“There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error” (Al-Baqarah, 2:256).
“Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve” (Al-Kahf 18:29).
- As full and dynamic citizens aware of their rights as well as their responsibilities, European Muslims have the right to criticise, dissent and protest, as do all European citizens. This right is in accordance with the democratic processes of Europe and in accordance with their faith. Islam calls upon all Muslims to promote the common good and welfare (maslaha) of society as a whole and prevent what is wrong (munkar).
- However, we witness with great sadness the challenges that face many European Muslims, who suffer at the hands of those who resent their presence in Europe or those whose crude sentiments leave no place for people of different colour, culture or creed. It is a challenge to which we must all rise. We condemn Islamophobia and discrimination in all their forms. If Europe’s Muslims are treated as second class citizens, or seen as a burden or even a threat to society, then the level of trust built up over the centuries which is essential for the establishment of peace across the world will be jeopardised. There have also been problems of disenfranchisement and poverty particularly amongst Muslim youth. European Muslim youth should be seen as a positive force, which can benefit the labour force and social fabric of Europe.
- We strongly urge European governments to promote inclusiveness and dialogue. This should be done through measures such as education, to encourage greater mutual knowledge and understanding, as well as social programmes to tackle socio-economic disadvantage. We applaud those European governments who have taken active measures to stem racism and who have legislated against overt and institutionalised forms of discrimination against minorities. We also acknowledge that the media has a role in ensuring accurate and responsible coverage.
- Terrorism in all its forms is an affront to our humanity. Under no circumstances does Islam permit terrorism and the killing of civilians. Terrorism is in direct contravention to the principles of Islam and the vast majority of Muslims remain faithful to these teachings. We condemn and abhor the violent actions of a tiny minority of Muslims who have unleashed violence and terror—by distorting the teaching of Islam— upon innocent neighbours and fellow citizens. The Holy Qur’an clearly declares that killing an innocent person is tantamount to killing all of mankind and likewise saving a single life is as if one had saved the life of all mankind (Al-Mai’dah, 5:32). This is both a principle and a command.
- We remain committed to working to ensure that the voice of the peaceful majority of Muslims overcomes that of the tiny minority who seek to promote distorted misinterpretations of Islam. We join our voices to those of scholars from across the world to say that we reject the cancer of terrorism. We pray for the guidance of those to whom extremism and violence may seem an attractive route.
- We also call on the world to work harder and more consistently to eliminate the injustices and grievances, like in Palestine , that have contributed to the hopelessness and despair of many Muslims and peoples across the world. Wars are not the way to solve conflict and we should work together to find a humane and moral ways to solve problems.
- Finally, we concur with and respect the Amman Message of November 2004; with the Final Declaration issued by the International Islamic Conference held in Jordan in July 2005; with the statements and fatawa of numerous scholars from across the Muslim world that preceded this conference and upon which this conference was based; with the Makkah Declaration and Final Summaries of the OIC Summit held in December 2005, the final statement of the Islamic Fiqh Academy held in Jordan in June 2006; as well as the 15th session of the European Council for Fatwa and Research in its declaration concerning engagement with society and positive integration and the declaration of European Muslims made by the Supreme Council of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina of 2005—in essence to develop solidarity amongst Muslims and establish justice. We recognise that solidarity of the Ummah is a key priority for all Muslims—both in Europe and throughout the world. We join our fellow Muslims the world over to challenge those who seek to misuse our faith corrupting its message. We call for solidarity between us and the upholding of Islam’s universal vision of peace, fraternity, tolerance and social harmony.
2 July 2006, Istanbul