The distrust and animosity that plague the Islamic world’s relationship with the United States represent today’s greatest single threat to international security and the world’s economy.
While many excellent attempts have been made to improve relations between Islamic countries and the West and to further peace in the Middle East, rarely have politically moderate, mainstream American Muslims helped initiate and lead a major multi-faith effort aimed at improving communication, increasing understanding and “waging peace.”
The Cordoba Initiative, founded in 2002, is a multi-faith organization whose objective is to heal the
relationship between the Islamic World and America. Working through civil dialogue, policy initiatives, education, and cultural programs, the Initiative focuses on Thought, Action and Outcomes.
Its goals include:
Increasing intercultural understanding, tolerance and respect, both in Muslim societies and in the West
Improving the nature of the discourse about Islam in America and about America in the Muslim world
Stimulating fresh thinking about peace in the Middle East
- Addressing the root causes of international terrorism and helping to prevent the
horrors of another September 11
International terrorism remains a substantial global threat. Respect for the United
States in the Middle East and even within Europe lingers at historic lows. Meanwhile, both anti-Muslim bias and a new anti-Semitism have grown in the West. National and international economies have been impacted substantially by the uncertainties and threats of war and terrorism. Whether or not one subscribes to the theory of a clash of civilizations, the world has become an increasingly insecure and dangerous place. The need for improved communication and understanding between the Islamic World and the United States is critical.
Unique Attributes of the Cordoba Initiative:
(1) Mainstream American Muslim leaders, working in partnership with Jewish and
Christian leaders, play a central role in mediating the effort.
(2) The Initiative focuses on the underlying roots of cultural intolerance and violence, not merely the symptoms.
(3) To leverage the impact of its efforts, the initiative seeks to form strong partnerships with other non-profit institutions, such as the Aspen Institute, CLAL, the Chautauqua Institution, the East-West Institute, and the American Society for
Muslim Advancement (ASMA).
(4) The Initiative employs a contemplative methodology, inviting spiritual leaders and scholars to join their secular counterparts in the quest for peace.
(5) The Initiative is firmly multi-faith: no single religion’s followers may hold a majority of voting seats on its board of directors.
For hundreds of years during the middle ages, Cordoba was the capital of Muslim
Spain. During much of its “golden age” from the 8th to 12th centuries, the Cordoba
Caliphate witnessed a great flowering of culture, art, and philosophical inquiry amid a
remarkable climate of religious tolerance. Religious freedom, while not perfect, was
sufficient that many Jewish and Christian intellectuals emigrated to Cordoba, where
they lived, wrote and flourished side by side with their Muslim counterparts in a
strikingly pluralistic society. The Cordoba name reminds both Muslims and non-
Muslims that a great Islamic civilization was once the most open and tolerant of its era.