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Redacted from: An Open Letter to Pope Francis About Islamism, from a Concerned Muslim Reformer
By M. Zuhdi Jasser M.D.
The Independent Journal
September 24, 2015
Dear Pope Francis,
First, I’d like to join millions in welcoming you to the United States – an extraordinary nation founded on the sacred principle of freedom of conscience. It is a nation where you, a Catholic, can be openly welcomed by me, a Muslim – during the same week that the Jewish community freely observes their holiest of holidays, and we Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, the festival honoring the sacrifice asked of our mutual ancestor, Abraham.
I write with deep respect for your position as the religious leader of roughly 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. As a Muslim whose faith communities are estimated to include over a billion adherents as well, I recognize your example as one that has the power to inspire change across religious lines across our planet.
I also acknowledge your commitment to set a different example for religious leadership: at times, you have dissented with leaders in the Vatican on matters you deem important. As a dissident hungry for change in my faith communities, I respect your tenacity and concern for humanity. It is a concern I share at a time when once in a millennium tectonic shifts are creating vacuums. Nature abhors a vacuum. The world order is unraveling day by day and the forces of evil are quickly filling it in the absence of genuine leadership from the religious and political leaders of the Free World.
It is out of that concern that I write, not just to offer you my humble welcome to our nation that gave my family freedom from the oppression of Syrian Ba’athism, but to ask for your moral courage on the issue of Islamism (political Islam)- the root cause of radical Islam.
Islamism, the theo-political ideology that inspires all Islamic states (whether full-fledged or quasi-theocracies) and which seeks the subjugation and even death of all who fail to comply with its barbarism, is undeniably the greatest threat to global peace and security today.
It is a deep-seated cancer within the House of Islam, wherein a cosmic battle between the forces of Sunni Islamism, Shia Islamism and secular fascism is taking place. Together, these forces are responsible for the oppression, torture and murder of countless Muslims and non-Muslims today. We can continue to share blinders in the West and commiserate over the metastases which this battle spreads across the planet whether through hate, terrorism, or refugees. Or we can open our eyes and hone in on the common root cause: it is that time in history when Muslims and our Islam must now come to terms with modernity.
The historic bonds between your faith and mine are undeniable, and it is because of these bonds, and your influence, that you are perfectly positioned to emulate for the Muslim world what it means to advocate for individual liberty, and to protect universal human rights – most importantly, freedom of conscience, which can only be protected when religion and state are separate. It is this truth that has failed to take hold in the Middle East.
While Islamism is a problem within the House of Islam and thus certainly requires a Muslim-led solution, we dissidents are in dire need of support from outside of our community.
You are in a position to facilitate a massive reality check worldwide. But to do this, you must also commit to and model the separation of faith from politics. Political lobbying on matters like climate change may be compelling to some, but I would argue that your voice as a man of religion is more urgently needed on matters like women’s bodily autonomy, the rights of children to be free from sexual abuse, forced marriage and other evils; and the plight of persecuted Christians, Jews, reformist Muslims, atheists and dissidents across the Middle East. In brief, you must make clear your own commitment to the separation of church and state, which will embolden freethinkers the world over to support the separation of mosque and state.
Your legacy is already being established – and it is that of a courageous forward-thinking man of faith. Will you join reform-minded Muslims in our fight against Islamism, lifting up our cause, thereby helping to secure global peace and cementing your legacy as one of the great spiritual leaders of our time?
You have a choice: to give a voice to your brothers and sisters in humanity, those dissident Muslims languishing inside and out of jails across Muslim-majority societies whose plight mirrors that of all minorities inside their oppressive Islamist societies; or to remain silent as Islamists radicalize our youth, supported by billionaires who export a malignant interpretation of Islam that is against all you stand for?
Once again, Pope Francis, I am honored to write you and to welcome you to this great blessed country. I hope that my words are received in the spirit in which I offer them: one of brotherhood, one of shared values and the deepest respect.
May the one God bless and keep you. (And, you too, Dr. Jasser. You are a very courageous man)
M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD
Biography: M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. is the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A devout Muslim, Dr. Jasser founded AIFD in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States as an effort to provide an American Muslim voice advocating for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, and the separation of mosque and state.
Dr. Jasser is a first generation American Muslim whose parents fled the oppressive Baath regime of Syria in the mid-1960’s for American freedom. He is leading the fight to shake the hold that the Muslim Brotherhood and their network of American Islamist organizations and mosques have on organized Islam in America.
Dr. Jasser earned his medical degree on a U.S. Navy scholarship at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1992. He served 11 years as a medical officer in the U. S. Navy. He is a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal. Dr. Jasser is a respected physician currently in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona specializing in internal medicine and nuclear cardiology. He is a Past-President of the Arizona Medical Association.
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