Muslim Scholars Debate Protecting Non-Muslims

CAIRO – Stressing Islam’s respect for other faiths, hundreds of Muslim scholars from around the world will meet next week in Morocco to assert rights of non-Muslim minorities and religious freedoms granted by their faith.

“The prophet was religiously persecuted, so he knew firsthand what it was to experience religious persecution,” said Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts college in the US, speaking on a pre-conference media call Thursday, Washington Post reported.

“His religion ensured the rights of religious minorities,” and Islamic history reveals a generally strong record of tolerance.

Shaykh Yusuf will meet with around 300 Muslim scholars from Muslim-majority nations, including Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran.

The scholars will hark back to the Charter of Madinah, in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) enumerated the rights of non-Muslims 1,400 years ago.

The conference, held from January 25-27, is deemed the first major effort of its kind in the Muslim world since the Charter of Madinah, written in 622 C.E. as the first constitution of the Muslim world.

An example of the charter’s principles is Article 17: “No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew.”

The conference in Marrakesh will be attended by Shaykh Bin Bayyah — a Mauritanian Islamic scholar and authority on the rights of religious minorities.

Bin Bayyah heads the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which will host the conference with the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco.

“The most important point about the declaration is the fact that Muslim scholars are addressing this issue from within the tradition of Islam,” said Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, an influential mosque in northern Virginia.

Along with Muslim scholars, the conference will be attended by Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and other faith leaders, including Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, DD and Rabbi Burt Visotzky of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Representatives from the Vatican, as well as Hindus and Sikhs, among other religious groups, have also been invited.

The gathering hopes to counter the philosophy of the so-called Islamic State.

We want to counter “the idea that Muslims and non-Muslims can’t live together,” said Shaykh Yusuf.

“This is not who we are or who we want to be.”