So often when it comes to Islam and the Holocaust, we hear from deniers such as Hamas leaderAbdel Aziz al-Rantissi
, Palestinian National Authority presidentMahmoud Abbas
, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaderMohammed Mahdi Akef
, the Jordanian Association Against Zionism and Racism'sAli Hatar
, and--the master--Iranian presidentMahmoud Ahmadinejad
That's why it is refreshing to read the recent statement signed by Imam Muzammil Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Orange County and chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America.
Based on a visit Siddiqi and other Muslim American faith and community leaders made to the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps last August, the statement reads:
We met survivors who, several decades later, vividly and bravely shared their horrific experience of discrimination, suffering and loss. We saw the many chilling places where men, women and children were systematically and brutally murdered by the millions because of their faith, race, disability and political affiliation.
In Islam, the destruction of one innocent life is like the destruction of the whole of humanity, and the saving of one life is like the saving of the whole of humanity (Holy Qu'ran, al-Ma'idah"the Tablespread" 5:32). While entire communities perished by the many millions, we know that righteous Muslims from Bosnia, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Albania saved many Jews from brutal repression, torture and senseless destruction.
And, in a direct hit to those who question the number of deaths during the Holocaust, the statement continues:
We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust, where over 12 million human souls perished, including 6 million Jews.
We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.
The statement goes on to "condemn anti-Semitism in any form," own up to "a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanization of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity," and blast "the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry."
"[N]ow more than ever," concludes the statement shared on the Huffington Post, "people of faith must stand together for truth. Together, we pledge to make real the commitment of 'never again' and to stand united against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today."
Other signees include: Imam Mihamad Magid, All-Dulles-Area Muslim Society; president-elect, Islamic Society of North America, Washington, D.C.; Imam Suhaib Webb, Muslim Community Association, Santa Clara; Laila Muhammad, daughter of the late Imam W.D. Muhammad of Chicago; Shaikh Yasir Qadhi, dean of Academics for the Al Maghrib Institute, New Haven, Connecticut; Imam Syed Naqvi, director of the Islamic Information Center in Washington, D.C.; Imam Abdullah T. Antepli, Muslim chaplain, Duke University; and Sayyid M. Syeed, director, Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America.
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Siddiqi has a long and storied interfaith reputation. His Garden Grove-based Islamic Society of Orange County, one of the largest mosques in North America, started a program called Open Mosque, which allows people of all faiths (or none at all) to visit any time. He has spoken at the World Assembly of the World Council of Churches, presided over the Academy of Judaic, Christian and Islamic Studies in California, and he received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the National Council of Christians and Jews.
He wholeheartedly supported the election of George W. Bush, explaining at the time Muslims are attracted to the Republican Party's stands on social issues. In fact, he was scheduled to meet with Bush on Sept. 11, 2001. That morning's events changed everything. Three days later, Siddiqi spoke at an interfaith service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.; gave Bush a copy of the Quran; and accompanied the then-president to face the media. He later split with Bush over the Iraq War.
His Fiqh Council of North America in July 2005 publicly issued a fatwa stating Islam's condemnation of terrorism and religious extremism. The Orange County Register that year called Siddiqi one of the 100 most influential people who shaped Orange County in the past 25 years, and the Los Angeles Times the following year named him one of the top 100 most powerful people in Southern California.
It makes one wonder why his words about the Holocaust don't draw as much attention as Ahmadinejad's.