ISNA and 20 Muslim Leaders Send Letter to Supreme Leader of Iran Requesting Release of Am. Hikers

ISNA and 20 Muslim Leaders Send Letter to Supreme Leader of Iran Requesting Release of Am. Hikers

In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful

May 24, 2011
His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i
The Supreme Leader, The Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Eminence,

As-Salamu Alaykum, Grand Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamene’I:

As representatives of the Muslim community of the United States of America, we are continuously involved in promoting dialogue and understanding between the Muslim world and the West. In our efforts to convey the true nature of Islam, we constantly stress that the two greatest attributes of God (Glorified and Exalted) are Rahman and Rahim–compassion and mercy, and that our blessed Prophet of Islam (Peace Be Upon Him) is described in the Holy Quran as a “mercy unto mankind.” It is in the name of compassion and mercy that we appeal to you now.

When Sarah Shourd, one of the three young American hikers held in Iran since July of 2009, appealed to us to help end the suffering of her fiancée, Shane Bauer, and their very good friend, Josh Fattal, who are still imprisoned, we felt it was our Islamic duty to respond. The families of all the hikers told us of the pain and suffering they had experienced since the three former top students at the University of California-Berkeley were imprisoned in Iran for allegedly crossing the Iranian border from Northern Iraq, where they were on a hiking trip.

After listening to the families, we believe that these Americans did not seek to cause any problems between the United States and Muslim world or the United States and Iran, but were in the region for the opposite purpose, to promote dialogue and understanding.

Sarah, who taught English to Iraqi refugees in Damascus and wrote articles focusing on the plight of the many souls affected by the region’s war and upheaval, was graciously freed  five months ago on the basis of Islamic compassion, and we thank you for this Islamic gesture. Sarah has acted as an ambassador between cultures since her return, and spoke often of her respect for Muslim culture and especially Iranian culture. Sarah, Shane, and Josh were acting in the spirit of their founding fathers such as: America’s first president, George Washington, who welcomed Muslims to America; America’s great philosopher Benjamin Franklin, who praised the Prophet of Islam (Peace Be Upon Him) as a model of compassion; and America’s third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, who owned and honored the Holy Quran and hosted the first Ramadan Iftar at the White House.

Yet two of these young Americans have been in detention for almost 19 months, and we appeal to you to show them the same compassion you have shown Sarah. Shane is a journalist who decided to work to improve relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world by enrolling in a Peace and Conflict Studies program. Josh worked as a teaching fellow with the International Honors program and is dedicated to environmental and health issues. They are now languishing in a shared cell, forbidden from seeing others. Their isolation is weighing heavily on both of them, and Shane has stomach problems which may include hemorrhaging. They are both at risk for permanent psychological damage.

Their family members are looking forward to the day they are reunited and Sarah and her fiancée Shane can get married, with Josh as their best man. Sarah, Shane, and Josh are committed to continuing to build bridges between people of differing cultures and religions.

Please show them Islamic compassion, mercy, and forgiveness and allow them to continue on this mission.  As American Muslim leaders, we call upon you to facilitate their release on the grounds of mercy and forgiveness as God (Glorified and Exalted) says in the Holy Quran: “Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous, those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good.”

We are called by your noble ancestor, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to help alleviate suffering, and we appeal to you now to alleviate the suffering of these families.  We come to you of our own volition as private citizens of America and as Muslim leaders because we feel strongly that it is incumbent upon us to help these two young men.  We are called as Muslims to help those in our American community who are struggling, and as leaders, we must also work diligently to improve the image of Islam and Muslims.

As you have demonstrated to the entire globe the true meaning of Islamic compassion and forgiveness when you released Sarah during the holy month of Ramadan, we appeal to you once again to reiterate this example of Islamic mercy and compassion to the rest of the world, during this month of Rabi’ Al-Awwal.  In doing so, you would shine a truly positive light on Islam and Muslims in America in particular, and be a powerful force in bringing about a greater sense of unity within the American Muslim community.  As you have stated in your teachings, “It is incumbent on all Muslims to be together,” and we feel confident that your example of Islamic mercy and compassion could help create a more positive image of Islam and help American Muslim scholars and organizations foster a reputable community within American society.

We thank you for your consideration of this request and may God (Glorified and Exalted) bestow His blessings and peace upon you.

With high regards,

Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America

Ambassador Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair, American University

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Chairman, Cordoba Initiative; Founder, Park 51 Community Center

Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Former President, Islamic Society of North America

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Co-founder, Zaytuna College

Muhammad Ali, Three-Time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion

Mr. Ibrahim Ramey, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Chairman, Fiqh Council of North America

Dr. Parvez Shah, Secretary General, Universal Muslim Association of America

Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President, Islamic Circle of North America

Mr. Nihad Awad, National Executive Director, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Dr. Maher Hathhout, Senior Advisor, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Community Outreach Director, Islamic Society of North America