Islamic scholar issues fatwa against terrorism
This week a Pakistani-born Sufi scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri addressed an assembled audience of the media along with representatives from both the political world and the faith communities at the launch of his Fatwa denouncing terrorism.
IF there’s a sure-fire way for an Islamic leader of grabbing a busy journalist’s attention then issuing a ‘Fatwa' on ‘terrorism’ is it. And this last week Dr Tahir ul-Qadri, from Pakistan, took to the media to affirm that his 600-page Fatwa (judgment) completely dismantles al-Qaeda's violent ideology.
The launching ceremony of the Fatwa was held on March 2, 2010 in London (UK). The Islamic organisation Minhaj-ul-Quran International UK arranged a press conference which was heavily attended by representatives of the international media and politicians.
The assembled audience included Labour party minister Shahid Malik, members of EU and UK parliaments Sajjad Karim, Muhammad Sarwar, James Finter, ambassadors of Iraq, Germany and other countries, officials of the Home Office, Commonwealth Office and Metropolitan Police, Professors and Muslim and Christian community leaders.
In the course of the address – delivered in Urdu and English – Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Sufi scholar, said that ever increasing wave of extremism and terrorism has destroyed world peace. In stating that the Fatwa is “an absolute condemnation of terrorism”, he said it is a matter of great misfortune that “these terrorist activities of the misguided elements have been bracketed with Islam though the reality is otherwise”.
in English after the first 30 seconds
|He claimed that no one has thus far come forward with an authentic and intellectual response to terrorism in the form of a patent decree. However he claims that Minhaj-ul-Quran International has told the world in no uncertain terms through issuance of this Fatwa that terrorists have nothing to do with Islam.
Islam is, he affirmed, a peaceful religion which not only condemns but also prohibits every kind of terrorism at every level under any pretext. He presented his document which will soon be available as a transcript in English as “the first ever fatwa against terrorism which declares terrorists as disbelievers.”
What needs to be borne in mind is that Islam is split into two major factions – Sunni and Shia (85%/15%) with Sufism as a mystical form of the religion, which some Muslims consider to be outside the sphere of Islam.
One Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, has described Sufism as "a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits." As a rough comparison Sufism could be seen as the Islamic version of the New Age Movement; the Quakers (aka Friends of the Earth); or the Kabbalah school of Jewish mysticism.
However, originating as it does from within the Muslim world and at a scholarly level, the Fatwa probably serves to illustrate the escalating tensions within the world-wide Islamic ‘Ummah’. [Ironically the phrase Ummah Wahida in the Qur'an (the "One Community") refers to all of the Islamic world unified.] The Islamic writer Mohammed (‘Ed’) Husain – who wrote in his book The Islamist of his journey into extremism and out again – was much influenced in the latter stages of his journey by reconnecting with Sufism.
Leaving aside the Sunni/Shia split (comparable in terms of theology to the Protestant/Roman Catholic division) the issuing of this Fatwa also serves to illustrate another very important facet of the Islamic faith: there is no central structure.
Almost any Muslim can rise to the status of Imam or leader provided he has sufficient charisma and the gift of oratory or belongs to a recognised clerical dynasty. It is this situation that has permitted the rise to prominence of Jihadi extremists like Abu Hamza in the UK and others like him elsewhere. This dynamic permeates the Islamic world and underlies the warring factions and tribalism that we see in so many countries where Islam has a presence.
Only time will tell the extent to which this most recent Fatwa will impact on the serious problems arising within every society where Islamists (in one manifestation or another) are pursuing a globalist agenda. And whether or not it will act as a lighting conductor for the serious tensions within the Muslim community worldwide.
Footnote: The term ‘fatwa’ lept into public awareness in 1989 when the Ayatollah Khomeini, then Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a ‘death fatwa’ against the novelist Salman Rushdie, calling for the author to be killed on account of his book The Satanic Verses.