The granddaughter of Elijah Muhammad the founder of the Nation of Islam has visited German Nazi concentration death camps in an effort to foster greater religious understanding and to gain insight into the Jewish experience of holocaust.
Laila Muhammad was one of eight prominent African American Muslim’s who visited Germany on a trip organised by Marshall Breger, an Orthodox Jew who served in the Reagan and first Bush administrations. The delegation met holocaust survivors and visited the death camps of Auschwitz, and Birkenau.
Breger organised the trip to educate those Muslim leaders who may not have had the opportunity to learn in detail the history of the Holocaust. Breger said he hoped this would help combat Holocaust denial among some Muslims.
Looking for funding from the trip Breger had appealed to numerous Jewish organizations for financial assistance without any success. He was eventually successful and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think tank affiliated with Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, agreed to fund the trip. The August 7-11th trip was co-sponsored by the German think tank and a New Jersey-based interfaith group called Interreligious Understanding.
The African American Muslim leaders all have significant followings in the US. On the visit were Imams Muzammil Siddiqi of Orange County, Calif.; Muhamad Maged of Virginia; Suhaib Webb of Santa Clara, Calif.; Abdullah Antepli of Duke University in North Carolina; and Syed Naqvi of Washington, D.C., along with Dr. Sayyid Syeed of Washington; Sheik Yasir Qadhi of New Haven, Conn.; and Laila Muhammad of Chicago.
U.S. Government officials, including the US State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, joined them and an official from the Organization of the Islamic Conference also participated.
Following the very successful trip the Muslim leaders issued the following statement:
“O you who believe, stand up firmly for justice as witnesses to Almighty God.” (Holy Qu’ran, al-Nisa “The Women” 4:135)
On August 7-11, 2010, we the undersigned Muslim American faith and community leaders visited Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps where we witnessed firsthand the historical injustice of the Holocaust.
We met survivors who, several decades later, vividly and bravely shared their horrific experience of discrimination, suffering, and loss. We saw the many chilling places where men, women and children were systematically and brutally murdered by the millions because of their faith, race, disability and political affiliation.
In Islam, the destruction of one innocent life is like the destruction of the whole of humanity and the saving of one life is like the saving of the whole of humanity (Holy Qu’ran, al-Ma’idah “the Tablespread” 5:32). While entire communities perished by the many millions, we know that righteous Muslims from Bosnia, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, and Albania saved many Jews from brutal repression, torture and senseless destruction.
We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where over twelve million human souls perished, including six million Jews.
We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.
We condemn anti-Semitism in any form. No creation of Almighty God should face discrimination based on his or her faith or religious conviction.
We stand united as Muslim American faith and community leaders and recognize that we have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanization of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity. With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth.
Together, we pledge to make real the commitment of “never again” and to stand united against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today.
- Imam Muzammil Siddiqi Islamic Society of Orange County, Calif. Chairman, Fiqh Council of North America
- Imam Muhamad Maged All-Dulles-Area Muslim Society Dulles, Va. Vice President, Islamic Society of North America
- Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed National Director Office of Interfaith & Community Services Islamic Society of North America Washington, D.C.
- Imam Suhaib Webb Muslim Community Association Santa Clara, Calif.
- Ms. Laila Muhammad Daughter of the late Imam W.D. Muhammad Chicago, Ill.
- Shaikh Yasir Qadhi Dean of Academics Al Maghrib Institute New Haven, Conn.
- Imam Syed Naqvi Director Islamic Information Center Washington, D.C.
- Imam Abdullah T. Antepli Muslim Chaplain Duke University Durham, N.C.