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To some Christians, the AoV movement may be a glorious vision of interfaith harmony and dialogue. In reality, it's a movement defined not by biblical values but on the values and teachings derived from the Quran, Hadith, and traditions of Islam.
The Alliance of Virtue for Common Good (AoV) is considered by Islamic scholars to be a 1,400-year old Muslim-led initiative, which they believe began in 622 with the transcription of Prophet Mohammad's Constitution of Medina, also known as the Medina Charter. According to these scholars, the Constitution of Medina was not only the first constitution in human history, but also serves as the true foundation that all subsequent constitutions are built upon – including the U.S. Constitution.
Citing such Arab Muslim historians as Ibn Ishaq, the Medina Charter declares that "the Messenger of God [Mohammad] wrote a document between the Emigrants [the original followers of Mohammed] and the Ansar [the first supporters of Mohammed in Medina], and in it he made a treaty and covenant with the Jews, establishing them in their religion and possessions, and assigning to them rights and duties."
As we discuss the sequence of historical events leading to today's AoV movement, one must understand that it was initiated exclusively by the Muslim community, and that it is solely based on Islamic tradition. The AoV movement is not defined by biblical values, but on the values and teachings derived from the Quran and Hadith of Islam.
Today, there are three principal individuals who are the recognized faces of the AoV movement. They include Pastor Bob Roberts, who is based in Dallas, Texas; Imam Mohamed Magid Ali, who is based in the Washington, DC, area; and Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, who is based in Saudi Arabia and serves as the global leader of the AoV.
Meanwhile, many within the faith community today are familiar with what is known as A Common Word, a global Islamic outreach effort that was inaugurated in 2006 at the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan. The original 140 signatories of the Common Word include many notable Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated sheikhs and imams. Today, there are more than 280 Christian signatories and an additional 460 individuals and organizations that have endorsed the Common Word document.
The term "Common Word" is derived directly from Quran 3.64, which states:
Say: 'O People of the Book! Come now to a common word between us and you, that we serve none but Allah, and that we associate not aught with Him, and do not some of us take others as Lords, apart from Allah.' And if they turn their backs, say: 'Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him].'
Islam's olive branch?
Issued October 13, 2007, "A Common Word Between You and Us" stressed the need for peace between members of the Christian and Islamic faiths.
The document impressed numerous Christian leaders, including evangelical heavyweights like Richard Cizik, Bill Hybels, Brian McLaren, John Stott, Jim Wallis, and Rick Warren – who added their signatures in a response that said evangelicals needed to "ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world."
This background information is important, because the Alliance of Virtue is built on the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked "A Common Word."
Eight years after the "A Common Word" document was first introduced (in 2007), an Islamic conference entitled "Reviving the Islamic Spirit" was held on December 23, 2015, in Toronto, Canada. This appears to be the first time the Alliance of Virtue concept was introduced to the West. As described by event organizer Summayah Poonah, the theme of the event was "Alliance of Virtue," which "speaks to a need to [form] cross cultural alliances in order to aid and facilitate social justice."
Then, on January 27, 2016, the Marrakesh Declaration conference was held in Morocco. This conference not only affirmed a direct link back to the Charter of Medina, but was also "based on [the 2007] 'Common Word,' requiring that such cooperation must go beyond mutual tolerance and respect, to providing full protection for the rights and liberties to all religious groups in a civilized manner that eschews coercion, bias, and arrogance."
At the conference, it was reiterated over and over again that the Marrakesh Declaration is a noble document, which was formed in Medina in the year 622.
The next event in the chronological sequence of conferences to honor the Common Word, the Marrakesh Declaration, and an Alliance of Virtue meeting was held on May 3, 2017, in Abu Dhabi, when the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies received the first American Caravan for Peace. This caravan of participants in the Alliance of Virtue Peace Route included Pastor Roberts, Imam Magid and Sheikh Bayyah, along with more than 30 other prominent Muslim, Christian, and American Jewish clergy (from ten different American states).
Over the course of a few days, about 400 faith leaders met at the first international Alliance of Virtue for the Common Good conference – which received international coverage – in Washington, DC, to sign a declaration of peace and interfaith harmony, and to help remove feelings of hostility toward Muslim religious minorities.
The February 7, 2018, event concluded with the signing of the Washington Declaration. As stated in the Declaration:
"More than 400 representatives from the three Abrahamic faiths assembled in the spirit of another initiative that came to fruition on the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century of the Common Era. The Alliance of Virtue was formed in Mecca, and included in its embrace the Prophet Mohammad, prior to his mission, and leaders from a variety of ethnicities and religions. The Alliance was conceived and implemented to support the rule of law and to ensure fair treatment for the vulnerable and disadvantaged throughout the Meccan community."
In describing the attitude of those attending the AoV conference in Washington, a reporter for the Religion News Service (RNS) stated: "The presence of so many evangelicals, a group often associated with a negative view of Islam, provided a welcome backdrop for an event aimed at championing tolerance."
In addition, Hamza Yusuf, president of Zaytuna College, America's first accredited Muslim college, said "the evangelicals coming [to be part of the Washington Declaration] took great courage, because of a lot of the attitudes within that community."
Also noted by RNS, Deborah Fikes, a former representative of the World Evangelical Alliance to the United Nations, "observed that American military actions abroad can foster negative perceptions, especially when conflated with the belief that the U.S. is a 'Christian nation.'"
In addition, Ms. Fikes "expressed concern that the 'conservative political party's policies' in the U.S. are 'really hurting the most vulnerable,' pointing to evangelical support for the Trump administration's recent decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel – despite widespread objection among Middle Eastern Christians." She also made the comment: "I know that conservative Christians ... are so passionate about protecting Christian minorities in the Middle East, but that one decision has greatly harmed and compromised the Christian minorities we want to protect."
Apparently, Fikes holds the same view as Pastor Roberts. He also believes "evangelicals are making it much worse" for interfaith dialogue and for following the goals of the Alliance of Virtue, because of "the negative views many Americans have of Islam." During an interview at the conference, he stated that "Pastors are worse than the people in the pews."
In any large movement like this, there tends to be an "other" – an opposition party or people who oppose the noble goals of this glorious vision of interfaith harmony and dialogue. Ominously, many pastors and imams in the Muslim Brotherhood-led Alliance of Virtue movement are pointing their fingers at Bible-believing evangelicals – who also happen to support the Trump administration – and their heightened awareness of civilization jihad.
J.M. Phelps is a Christian activist and journalist based in the Southeastern U.S. He is also editor and publisher of the website Lantern of Liberty.
Philip B. Haney is a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a former customs and border protection officer, and co-author of "See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government's Submission to Jihad."
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