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Muslims here decry religious extremism
Chicago Sun-Times
July 30, 2005

By Emily Ngo
Staff reporter

In light of bomb attacks in London and Egypt, Muslim interest groups in Chicago on Friday joined Muslims nationwide in publicly decrying acts of violence performed for religion's sake.

Several Muslim interest groups here officially endorsed the fatwa, or religious decree, issued by the Fiqh Council of North America against religious extremism.

According to the teachings of the Quran, acts of terrorism targeting innocents are forbidden in Islam, the fatwa reads. The decree seeks to remind Muslims that Islam condemns violence and to assure non-Muslims that not all of the Islamic world resorts to violent means.

"We believe suicide bombing is criminal and sinful," said Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. "Killing civilians, for whatever cause, will result in God's utter displeasure."

Ahmed Rehab, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Mohammed Kaiseruddin, president of the Muslim Community Center, and other area leaders joined Mujahid at the Downtown Islamic Center, 231 S. State, to announce their support of the fatwa.

'Educational process' to all

"If we knew any terrorists, we wouldn't be holding a press conference, we'd be calling 911," Mujahid said, adding that Islamic residents are a "clean community."

To dispel misconceptions of the Islamic community, energies should be focused on educating young Muslims, said Sheikh Kifah Mustapha, of the Mosque Foundation.

"Misinterpretation of the texts by youths [can lead to] blowing up people worldwide," said Mustapha, who heads education efforts in Bridgeview.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago will host a youth summit this weekend in Villa Park to help "young people leading the community" contribute to a more positive Muslim image, said council director Muneer Aliuddin.

"You cannot take the lives of human beings at any cost," Mujahid said. "The fatwa is an educational process to Muslims and non-Muslims."

copyright © 2005, Chicago Sun-Times

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