"Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing chapter 5, verse 32 of the Quran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity," the president said as he hosted a dinner marking the end of the daily fast during Ramadan.
"I appreciate those of you here who have joined these scholars in rejecting violent extremists. And I believe the time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to denounce an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends and defiles your noble faith," he said.
Mr. Bush said those in the room share a conviction that the United States must be free of religious discrimination and that the world must be safer and more peaceful. He said he was grateful to Muslim nations that have helped in the war on terrorism.
"The killers who take the lives of innocent men, women and children are followers of a violent ideology very different from the religion of Islam," he said. "These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision, including Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics. Their strategy will fail."
President Bush has hosted an iftar dinner annually for the last five years in the State Dining Room. Attendees included ambassadors from Islamic nations, administration officials and Muslim leaders in the Unites States.
The group interrupted Mr. Bush's brief remarks once, when he said a Quran has been added to the White House library for the first time in history.
First lady Laura Bush hosted a separate iftar in the executive residence for Afghan women she met during a visit to their country in March.