Comment at end
3rd March 2010
[UPDATE 16th March – the Fatwa is now online here. Not as yet complete, due to translation issues. Thank you to the commenter below who supplied it.]
FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS
A FATWA “PROHIBITING” TERRORISM
According to the Quilliam Foundation, an anti-Islamic terrorist group in Britain, today “the renowned, mainstream Muslim scholar Shaikh Dr Tahir ul-Qadri will issue a comprehensive fatwa (religious ruling) prohibiting terrorism and suicide bombing at a press conference in Westminster, London.”
This has been responded to at the Guardian. For once, I think I am with the Guardian on this one, with a caveat which I will come to later.
THE LANGUAGE AS SHE IS ‘WROTE’
The language of fatwahs is not without religious overtones. In fact it is entirely WITH religious overtones as well as undertones. This kind of language has no place in secular political discourse. Its use implies only a minor move away from Islam as she is wrote. Islam as she is wrote is the problem. Ask any trainee suicide bomber. “Allah instructed” them.
CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
The caveat to my hesitation over the ‘language’ issue is simple. Here Dr ul-Qadri may be attempting to move his people away from their recent bending of the historic meaning of the term “fatwa”. It isn’t invariably an instruction to kill, as it was in the case of Salmand Rushdie. Perhaps the good gentleman feels that this usage is a way of repossessing the language as well as being the best way to communicate the urgency of the need for “Islam means peace” to be re-stated and re-constituted in fact, replacing its present meaning in the minds of many. [I recall suggesting separating semantically ‘Islamists’ from ‘Islamicists’ over two years ago here.]
I give him great credit for speaking out at ALL in Britain. For too long too many Muslim voices have been mute on all of this.
NOW THE BAD NEWS
Definition: A fatwa is an Islamic religious ruling, a scholarly opinion on a matter of Islamic law.
‘A fatwa is issued by a recognized religious authority in Islam. But since there is no hierarchical priesthood or anything of the sort in Islam, a fatwa is not necessarily “binding” on the faithful. The people who pronounce these rulings are supposed to be knowledgable, and base their rulings in knowledge and wisdom. They need to supply the evidence from Islamic sources for their opinions, and it is not uncommon for scholars to come to different conclusions regarding the same issue.
As Muslims, we look at the opinion, the reputation of the person giving it, the evidence given to support it, and then decide whether to follow it or not. When there are conflicting opinions issued by different scholars, we compare the evidence and then choose the opinion to which our God-given conscience guides us.’
Hmmm… I had a feeling there would be a catch.
As Tony Blair said in his last speech to conference “So: it’s up to you. You take my advice. You don’t take it. Your choice.”
We are yet to work out just how wise were the democracy followers in that 2006 Blair case, fatwa-less as it was. For the followers of Islam, the political religion, where democracy thrives only inasmuch as anyone (male, of course) can regale mosque attenders on anything they think they know anything about, democratic parties and governments are a whole different bag of fun and games.
Still, my wishes for success in their missions and long lives go to both Dr ul-Qadri and Tony Blair. “Blessed”, someone once said, “are the peacemakers”.
This is what they and we are up against. No-one has told these people that the only reason Gaza has ANY supplies of anything from water to power to telephones to food is that Israel and the west supply them, or have chosen NOT to attack the hundreds of smuggling tunnels into Gaza.
From The Quilliam Foundation –
Founder of the international Minhaj-ul-Quran movement, his fatwa is significant because:
– Minhaj-ul-Quran is a major grass-roots organisation with hundreds of thousands of followers in South Asia and the UK.
– Shaikh Dr Tahir ul-Qadri is a widely recognised and respected authority on Islamic jurisprudence.
– The fatwa condemns suicide bombers as destined for hell, which helps remove extremists’ certainty of earning paradise after death.
– The 600-page fatwa is arguably the most comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism to date.
– Dr Tahir ul-Qadri’s fatwa will set an important precedent and will allow other scholars to similarly condemn the ideas behind terrorism.
A Quilliam spokesperson said –
“This fatwa has the potential to be a highly significant step towards eradicating Islamist terrorism. Fatwas by Wahhabi-influenced clerics and Islamist ideologues initiated modern terrorism against civilians. Terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda continue to justify their mass killings with self-serving readings of religious scripture. Fatwas that demolish and expose such theological innovations will consign Islamist terrorism to the dustbin of history.”
The Independent – excerpt:
“Although numerous fatwas condemning terrorism have been released by scholars around the world since 9/11, Dr Qadri’s 600-page ruling is both significant and unusual because it is one of the few available in English and online. Those hoping to combat terrorism have long spoken of their frustration at the traditional Islamic hierarchy’s inability to exert their influence on the internet, where violent jihadists and Saudi-influenced Wahabis have long reigned supreme.
Dr Qadri’s ruling also goes further than most previous edicts by describing terror acts as so morally unjustifiable that they represent acts of “kufr” (disbelief). Most previous rulings only go as far as calling terrorism “haram” (forbidden). Kufr acts are so serious that those committing them essentially forfeit their right to call themselves Muslims.
A version of the fatwa in Urdu will also be launched later this month in Pakistan, where leading scholars have been killed by the Taliban for speaking out. Last year Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, a respected cleric and close friend of Dr Qadri, was assassinated days after issuing a verbal fatwa on national television condemning terrorism.”