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Islam is compatible with Western ideals of freedom and democracy

By Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

Kashmiri American Council

Istanbul, Turkey. December 12, 2007. Much of the Western world is currently in a state of fear over Islam. And while the threat is mostly imagined, this fear is not only affecting individual Muslims in the form of increased discrimination, harassment, and persecution, but is also finding its way into foreign policy decisions all over the globe, said Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director of the Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Center, while speaking during the International Conference on Islamophobia at Istanbul, Turkey. More than 1,000 people attended the conference that was organized by The Union of the NGOs of the Islamic World. Dr. Fai presented a paper on, The Islamic Concept of Human Rights VS Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Dr. Fai elaborated that Islam as a value system upholds the same human rights precepts as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). After all, Islam means submission to God and does indeed encapsulate the same moral principles as outlined in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, both of which served as templates for the modern Western code of law and legal system. In fact, Muslims should be defending the universal truths as conveyed through all the sacred scriptures, and specifically the three Abrahamic faiths Islam, Judaism & Christianity. Some of these timeless spiritual principles can indeed be seen in the thirty articles of the United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Executive Director reminded the audience that Prophet Muhammad introduced the concept of human rights and international freedoms to Arabia, a place where people were suffering the worst kind of human rights violations known to humanity. Under these conditions, he promoted human rights and human dignity not only for his followers, but also for all humankind irrespective of any religious affiliations and cultural background.

Dr. Fai emphasized that Islam, as a growing force in the world, is not a threat in its ideal form and is particularly compatible with Western ideals of freedom and democracy. This is not to say that an Islamic society would look like an American representative democracy, but neither do any of the socialist democracies or monarchies found throughout Western Europe and much of the Western world. The goal of the west should not be to impose a representative democracy on the Islamic world but rather to support the rise of forces which uphold the same tenants of equality, freedom, and justice that the West holds so dear. Islam does just that.

Dr. Fai reiterated that Islamic ideals teach universal values, all of which naturally extend out of the ethic of reciprocity. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.". If individuals follow this basic tenant, then there would be no oppression or denial of human rights because no one would ever oppress or deny themselves of any rights. Beyond that however, the Qu ran always encourages the enjoining of good practices that benefit the individual spirit as well as the greater peace of society as a whole. However under the spirit of peace and brotherhood, there are no limits to individual freedom as long as it doesn t lessen other s basic rights or create disharmony in society.

Dr. Fai concluded that the Quranic teachings are timeless and universal. The beauty and grace of God s word can be applied anytime, anywhere and is robust enough to address all social issues that arise. The West should be partnering with Muslims across the globe to manifest societies and governments that embody these ideals rather than suffer from the ignorant fear of Islam that colors the geopolitical landscape today.

Those who spoke during the two day conference included: Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin IHSANOGLU, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC); Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, former President, Azad Kashmir; the Jewish academic Prof. Dr. Norman Finkelstein famous for his book the Holocaust, Dr. Vincent Geisser, France; Ms. Karen Armstrong, England; Prof. Dr. Susana Mangana, Uruguay; Prof. William Baker, USA; Mr. Necmi Sadikoglu, Turkey; Dr. Bernard Goddard, France; Eric K. Nisbet, Turkey; Dr. Tariq Said Ramadan, Switzerland; Prof. Norman Finkelstein, USA; Mr. M. Fahmy Howeidy, Egypt; Lord Nazir Ahmed, England; Mr. Anwar Ibrahim, the Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia; Mr. Ahmed Von Denffer, Germany; Dr. M. Louay Safi, USA; Prof. Dr. Anis Ahmad, Pakistan; Dr. Iqbal Unus, USA; Dr. Ahmet Bakcan, Turkey; Mr. Shahid Malik, M.P., England; Dr. Merve Safa Kavakç, USA; Dr. Salah Abdel Mutaal, Egypt; Dr. Olsi Jazexhi, Albania; Mr. Ahmed Azam, Malysia; Mr.
Mubarak El-Mutawwa, Kuwait; Dr. Sulayman Nyang, USA; Dr. Mohammad Rayan, Jordan; Dr. Taskin Soykan, Poland; Dr.Ibrahim Kal n, Turkey; Prof. Dr. Numan Kurtulmu , Prof. Dr. Mümtazer Türköne, Prof. Dr. Ömer Faruk Harman, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Görmez, Mr. Ali Kurt, Turkey; Prof. Dr. Yasin Aktay, Fatma Benli from Turkey and many more.

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