Raheel Raza: Reflections from Muslim Reformers 20 years after 9/11

Written By Raheel Raza, Posted on September 11, 2021

On Wednesday, September 8, The Muslim Reform Movement hosted a webinar to discuss where we are twenty years after 9/11. The Muslim Reform Movement is a dedicated coalition of diverse western Muslim leaders founded on December 4, 2015. The MRM focuses on opposing an interpretation of Islam that espouses violence and social injustice and looks for ways to defeat political Islam.

9/11 was a culmination of everything reformist Muslims could think would go wrong when faith is politicized.

Right after 9/11, analysts and political pundits took to the stage – there were books and articles written with a view about how to defeat the enemy militarily. But very few pinpointed the underlying cause that this is a war against an ideology – that this is not a war of weapons but a war of ideas. Muslim reformers had predicted what would happen if the ideology goes unchecked. There is an entire generation of young people – the millennials who have no idea of the history of Islamism which existed before 9/11. 

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix and the co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement. He is a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander and former Vice-Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is author of the book, “A Battle for the Soul of Islam.” 

Jasser spoke about both low and high points during the past twenty years. He mentioned the various terror attacks globally and especially the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan which he says “brought to light all the problems of radical Islam as a disease”. 

We fought a war against a terrorist entity, the Taliban and we bombed their caves but not their ideology. What do we have to show as a result? The interior Minister of Afghanistan Mr. Haqqani is a global designated terrorist who is being sought by multiple authorities across the world for crimes against humanity and has a bounty on his head by the FBI. 

Jasser mentioned high points like the Arab awakening and other revolutions which proved that there is no military solution but we have to allow for Muslim Nations to carve their own destiny.  

Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Morsi shortly after being jailed after overthrown in 2013.

Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Morsi shortly after being jailed after overthrown in 2013.

Jasser pointed out “regardless of the flavor of Jihad, it will continue to regenerate like a snake. It will continue to recur unless we treat the primary diagnosis”.

Soraya M. Deen is a Lawyer and an award-winning international activist, and community organizer. She is the founder of the Muslim Women speakers movement. Deen focused her remarks on the plight of women due to the rise in Islamism. She mentioned how Mosques are still not women-friendly and she stressed how important it is for reformers to question the received theology and challenge patriarchal cultures. Given a chance women will bring about change as they have done in Morocco (where women helped change the divorce laws) and Tunisia (where women got the right for Muslim women to marry non-Muslims). 

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Deen mentioned that the Islamists linked with the ultra-left have become emboldened They want to silence the reformers and discredit us in the community. Hence fatwas, lawsuits, and threats are the norm. 

Asra Nomani is an American author and former Georgetown University professor. She is also a co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement. She is co-director of the Pearl Project and the author of “Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam”.

Nomani spoke of her personal experience as a single mom after 9/11. She had visited Pakistan after 9/11 and was shocked to see the way Islam has been politicized and turned into a violent ideology. Reflecting on Afghanistan, she spoke about her visit with an Afghani minister and how shocked she was with his 7th Century mindset. Nomani also pointed out that there are very few of us reformers and if we continue to work together, we can slowly change the narrative from one of violence and hate to one of peace and love. She spoke about her efforts in Virginia where she lives, of critiquing the practices of misogyny and extremist rhetoric. 

Islamist Protest in Pakistan.

Islamist Protest in Pakistan.

All of us agreed that the time for Muslim reform is now. Solutions are needed like a cold war-like attitude empowering the voices of the silent majority of Muslims who are afraid to speak out. Our elected leaders are silent due to political correctness and infiltration by the Islamists. They need to understand the very clear distinction between Islam and Islamism – only then will they support our efforts and allow an alternate narrative to take place. However, many of them are silent about the reform choosing to look the other way. 

In our lethargy, we are waiting for another 9/11 so it’s imperative that we don’t forget this date and continue to raise our voices while we raise our hands in prayer for those who lost their lives in 9/11

Raheel Raza is co-founder of The Muslim Reform Movement and author of “The ABC’s of Islamism”

Raheel Raza

2 responses to “Raheel Raza: Reflections from Muslim Reformers 20 years after 9/11”

  1. Viv says:

    Raheel- as always, informative, interesting and thought-provoking. Thank you.

  2. John says:

    In an article entitled "The Koran Avows Peace And Harmony" Raza obscenely asserted the bald faced lie that the Koran which is the basis of Islamist supremacist doctrine and ideology and urges Muslims to kill non Muslims and wage jihad against infidels is ‘the secret weapon to neutralizing violent Islamic fundamentalism" due to its "views of peace and harmony.”

    “Jihad, she said, has many meanings; not one of them amounts to murder. "Jihad is a word that has been mis-used and mis-represented by a few wrongly minded people," she said, calling it an oft-used cloak to "legitimize criminality."