On the Occasion of the 11th Annual Banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
Washington, DC, US
3 December 2005
I'm honoured to have this opportunity to greet and congratulate you on the occasion of this, your 11th Annual Banquet.
Let me begin by thanking the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and all American Muslims, for your many expressions of support and unity, following last month's terror bombings in Amman.
Your voices are tremendously important to the global Muslim community. Together, we stand in defence of the essence of Islam – the religion of moderation and tolerance. Our religion abhors terrorists who kill innocents in Islam's name – even as Islam is innocent of such crimes. You know this. We in Jordan and the Arab world know this. It is time that the whole world know the truth about our faith as well.
Indeed, every land that has known traditional Islam, has realised the great contributions that Muslims make when they are true to their heritage. This is the spirit of the Amman Message, which we released last year. For Islam seeks to cultivate only that which is most noble in the human being. The Holy Quran declares: Truly the believers are brothers, (49:10). And the Prophet Muhammad—peace be upon him—expands upon the biblical call to love thy neighbour as thyself, saying: None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.
These values underlie the coexistence – the “convivencia” – that Muslims have sought with all people throughout history. American Muslims are living examples of that spirit. In your free and open society – a society where you are legally free to practice your religion – you have worked hand-in-hand with people from all walks of American life to strive for your noble principles and to apply the teachings of our Judeo-Christian-Islamic heritage. Such civic leadership has a positive impact far beyond your shores.
The American Muslim community also provides an important example of how Muslims throughout the world can join together. In your country, Muslims of all lands, ethnic backgrounds and walks of life are coming to know one another as at no other time in the history of Islam. Among you are Sunnis, Shi'ites and Ibadhis from all the Mathahib and all the schools of traditional Islamic thought; Arabs, Persians, Turks, subcontinent Muslims, Indonesians, Malaysians, Africans, Europeans, and Chinese. American Muslim life reaffirms core values that have nurtured Muslims of all lands for over 1400 years. This is a sign upon which we must all reflect, for as God says in the Holy Quran (49:13): We have made you peoples and tribes that you may come to know one another.
Our 21st century is not a time to marginalise and isolate the Muslim community. Muslims are, and must be, full partners in the development of human civilisation, and in the progress of humanity in our age.
With faith in God and reconciliation with one another, let us recapture the spirit of “convivencia” from times past, and strive together for life, liberty and happiness in this life and the life to come.May God bless you all. I thank you again for allowing me to be part of your distinguished event.
Peace be upon you.