A New Muslim Statement Against Torture
By Hussein Rashid
Posted on May 4, 2009, Printed on May 4, 2009
Editor’s Note: The following is a direct response to this realization.
We, the Muslim-American community, condemn torture. It is irreligious, immoral, and unethical.
Our religious history is replete with stories demanding that we condemn abuse and torture. The Prophet Moses (AS) sacrificed his royal position to stop an act of torture. The Prophet Jesus (AS) was tortured in an exercise of the brutality of power. The Prophet Muhammad (SAS) forbade the mistreatment of prisoners. Husayn (AS), the Prophet’s grandson, was denied food and water, an act of torture, the abhorrence of which is now part of Muslim cultural memory.
We are are compelled to speak out against torture—just as we condemn acts of terrorism because of their immoral nature. We challenge our co-religionists to live to a higher standard and we challenge our fellow Americans to live to a higher standard.
The torture of human beings at the behest of the American government must be condemned. Extraordinary rendition must be stopped. Simply because another country allows torture does not mean we should encourage and utilize the moral weakness of others. When we ratified the Convention Against Torture President Ronald Reagan said, “[We] clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.” The violence of torture is the result of power without a moral compass; it is not a model that we as Americans and Muslims believe is one that should be emulated.
We believe America must not torture and it is the ultimate act of being American to hold our government responsible for actions done in our name. We believe, as Pres. Kennedy, Pres. Reagan, and Sec. Clinton, that the US can be a shining beacon on a hill. When Rev. Winthrop made that statement over 300 years ago, he said that we must hold ourselves to higher standard both because others will, and because it is right.
We applaud President Obama for shining light on these shameful practices. We now need to ensure that we do not participate in torture ever again. As citizens, it is incumbent on us to be aware of what is being done in our name. We urge President Obama to meet this challenge as well.
We cannot be deaf to the voice of justice, but must establish it. Torture is not just.
Associate Editor – Religion Dispatches
Editor-in-Chief – AltMuslim
Editor-in-Chief – Muslimah Media Watch
Tina M. Foster
Executive Director – International Justice Network
Vice-Chair – Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals
City of Brass, BeliefNet
G. Willow Wilson
Hussein Rashid is a native New Yorker and proud Muslim. After finishing his undergraduate degree at Columbia University, he completed a Master’s in Theology at Harvard where he is now finishing his PhD in Islamic Cultures. He works with major political figures and institutions, advising them on the history and culture of Muslims.
In addition to founding Islamicate and writing regularly for Religion Dispatches, he appears on various media outlets as an expert commentator. Currently an instructor at the Center for Religious Inquiry at St. Bart’s and a professor at Hofstra University, he is deeply committed to inter-faith work and is passionate about teaching. His work both within the Muslim community and on behalf of Muslims was recognized in 2006 when he was named one of the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow. He believes doing good is an article of faith, and he needs to leave the world a better place for his children. You can find out more about him at Husseinrashid.com.