The task has become all the more urgent and complex in recent months since Ahmadinejad has intensified his confrontational rhetoric, most notably his vows to wipe Israel off the map and his repeated questioning of the Holocaust.
Many Iran observers see Ahmadinejad as a populist politician eager to assert himself in both Tehran's complex power structure and the Muslim world by rekindling the fiery anti-Zionist and anti-Western ideology of the early revolutionary years. But other scholars are increasingly warning that more attention needs to be focused on his messianic religious beliefs.
"U.S. analysis generally discounts ideology," said Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. and a former Pentagon official. "But he's a true believer, he wants to return to the core values of the revolutions that have been abandoned by corrupt elites. He also expects the return of the Hidden Imam, and we need to take this seriously rather than mirror-image it and dismiss it as crazy stuff."
We also believe that terrorist acts can never be justified or excused. None of the challenges Muslims face, such as oppression or military occupation, can justify attacks against non-combatants. In the Holy Koran, Allah orders Muslims to "never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice." (5:8) The true Islamic sense of justice is well-established in the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); even in time of war — let alone peace — Muslim soldiers should never "kill the old, the infant, the child, or the woman." Those who do so are not martyrs, but cold-blooded murderers.
Supported by the Koran's affirmation that "there is no compulsion in religion" (2:256), we cherish religious liberty. Every human has the right to believe or not to believe in Islam or in any other religion All Muslims furthermore have the right to reject and change their religion if desired. No state, community or individual has a right to impose Islam on others. People should accept and practice Islam not because they are forced to do so, but because they believe in its teachings.
We support and cherish democracy — not because we reject the sovereignty of the Almighty over people, but because we believe that this sovereignty is manifested in the general will of people in a democratic and pluralistic society. We do not accept theocratic rule-not because we do not wish to obey Allah, but because theocratic rule inevitably becomes rule by fallible (and sometimes corrupt and misguided) humans in the name of the infallible God.
We accept the legitimacy of the secular state and the secular law. Islamic law, or sharia, was developed at a time when Muslims were living in homogenous communities. In the modern world, virtually all societies are pluralistic, consisting of different faiths and of different perceptions of each faith, including Islam. In this pluralistic setting, a legal system based on a particular version of a single religion cannot be imposed on all citizens. Thus, a single secular law, open to all religions but based on none, is strongly needed.
We believe that women have the same inalienable rights as men. We strongly denounce laws and attitudes in some Islamic societies that exclude women from society by denying them the rights of education, political participation and the individual pursuit of happiness. Like men, women should have the right to decide how they will live, dress, travel, marry and divorce; if they do not enjoy these rights, they are clearly second-class citizens.