The PM tells the United Nations General Assembly says Muslims must concentrate on building a common agenda for peace and prosperity.
“I believe the greatest threat to Muslims today comes not from the outside world, but from within,” he told the UN General Assembly.
Najib voiced outrage at violence between the Sunni and Shiite sects in Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, noting that nearly 5,000 Muslims died in conflict in the three countries in the holy month of Ramadan.
“It is time to end the killing and concentrate instead on building a common agenda for peace and prosperity,” he said.
“I believe that peace-loving Muslims — the overwhelming majority of Muslims — should unite against the extremists who use our religion as an excuse to commit violence.”
“Our task is to reclaim our faith by articulating clearly the true nature of Islam — the religion of peace, of moderation, of tolerance,” he added.
He commented that that a “battle [is] being waged for the future of Islam.”
“By reaffirming our commitment to moderation – and solving the political problems that drive instability – we can seize back the centre ground. We can marginalise the extremists. And we can advance an agenda for peace, harmony and justice”.
The prime minister went on to say:
“It should come as no surprise that there is no scriptural basis for the atrocities being committed in the name of Islam.
“Our task is to reclaim our faith, by articulating clearly the true nature of Islam: the religion of peace, of moderation, of tolerance. We should speak this message clearly, so that all may hear it; and stand firm against the minority who use Islam to further violent and unjust ends.
“We can reclaim our religion, choosing harmony and acceptance over division and conflict. And we can broadcast a vision of Islam as it is understood by Muslims around the world: as a religion of peace, tolerance, and moderation.”
Najib said he was committed to “mutual respect and inclusivity” in Malaysia, which is more than 60 percent Muslim ethnic Malay with sizable Chinese and Indian minorities.
Malaysia is generally known for its moderate form of Islam, although conservatives have occasionally banned concerts by Western artists and tensions have risen over custody of children whose religion is disputed.
Najib’s choice of subject at the world body marks a shift in tone from former Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was known for his strident denunciations of the West during his 1981-2003 tenure.
US President Barack Obama, who has been seeking greater ties with Southeast Asia, will travel to Malaysia next month on the first visit by a US leader to the country since 1966.