On May 4, 2009, ReligionDispatches.org published a statement against torture written by Hussein Rashid. The statement denounces torture and calls upon the American government to renounce torture. It was subsequently signed by a number of American Muslim organizations.

The statement does not go far enough. Why call only upon the American government to renounce torture? What about Russia, China, India, Israel, and the many Muslim nations that engage in this abominable practice? As Muslims we must take the lead in attempting to reform the Muslim world.

In spite of its shortcomings, the statment is good at face value, and I have reprinted it here:

“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 (Editor’s note: I’m not sure what Rashid is referring to here, since we Muslims do not believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) was crucified). 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.”