Refutation Of Sheikh Yousuf Al-Abeeri's Fatwa Appearing In English Translation In New Age Islam Website Supporting Wanton Killing Of Innocent Civilians Under Special Circumstances And Thus Justifying The 9/11 Attacks - Part-7.
By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
Feb. 22, 2013
The Fatwa patches together diverse themes and is therefore divided into easily readable parts, which are refuted one by one as follows.
1. It begins with “unanimous opinion” of scholars” that giving indirect support to jihad is synonymous with directly taking part in jihad,” connects it with a ruling from Imam Ibn-e-Taimiya and infers “Whatever applies to the fighters will also apply to the rich and resourceful civilians of a nation at war against the Muslims.” It stretches the argument further to appropriate the “innocent and weak (women, children and the old) - whom we call civilians in modern times” in this category.
Refutation-1: The Fatwa merely repeats its theme appearing recurrently in Part-1, 5 and 6 (over a dozen occasions or more) and refuted on the strength of the Qur’anic verse 9:6 that calls for reaching the enemy non-combatants to safe place (Refutation 8, ii. Part-1)
2. The Fatwa then turns to the American civilians. It argues that the representation of common Americans in the administration through electoral process lends them a collective voice in formulating strategic policies and adds that their re-election of George W. Bush to the second term “despite having prior knowledge of the plans and (military) policies” he declared in his election campaigns demonstrates their approval of his military plans and “all anti-Islamic policies and decisions of the Administration,” and as such they bear direct responsibility for the same. With this inference, it jumps to its third conclusion: “Targeting and attacking the American people everywhere whether they fight directly or support the government’s war giving their verbal approval is permissible by Shariah,...which will also apply to the majority of the American people”
Refutation-2: The Fatwa fails to recognise that America’s Presidential election is decided by the Electoral College, not by popular votes (number of votes cast), while the winning Presidential candidate receives hardly 30% of the total national tally of votes. Therefore, even notionally, the entire American population cannot be held responsible for America’s military decisions and seemingly anti-Muslim policies and treated as enemy to be killed indiscriminately. The Qur’an testifies that during the Prophet’s march to Mecca, God withheld the hands of the numerically and militarily superior Muslim marchers as this could endanger the lives of the small group of Meccans, who had converted to Islam secretly and could not be distinguished from the pagans, their true enemy (48:24-26). Hence, any attack on the Americans, only a third of which may be notionally identified with the enemy stands in stark contradiction to the Qur’anic message.
3. The Fatwa now gives a macabre twist to its unceasingly recurrent justification of killing innocent civilians of the infidels when they cannot be distinguished from combatants such as while capturing their forts and citadels, and declares, “the Muslims have to burn down or poison them or leave snakes, scorpions and other dangerous insects among them even if there is a possibility of the death of innocent people.” It supports these grotesque and gruesome measures by citing a sparsely worded tradition from Imam Bukhari that “the Prophet burnt down the date palms of Bani Nadir” and Ibn Hajar’s commentary on this Hadith (Vol. 6,p.154, Fath al Bari) justifying destructive activities in the enemy country. [I]
Refutation-3: The Fatwa’s deduction from burning of palm tree to gruesome measures deadly for the unsuspecting civilians is simply untenable. Besides, the Qur’an only refers to cutting down of palm trees (59:5), that in the pre-Islamic Arabia signalled the launching of an attack and conceivably aimed at saving civilian lives. Hence, the foregoing argument stands refuted. [The historical background to this episode is presented under 2.2 of the refutation of Part-3]
4. The Fatwa then counters the preceding argument [i] on the strength of Imam Auza’ee, Al Laith and Abu Thur (R.A.) by its statement: “he (Hadhrat Abu Bakr) said that all this (burning of date trees, houses etc ) should not be done”[ii]. It then invokes the interpretation of al-Tabari to treat this prohibition as a general strategy of war against intentional killing of civilians and destruction of properties [iii], and cites the Prophet’s reported deployment of manjanique (Canon) in Taif to accepting them (such destructions) as a reality of war. The Fatwa also claims that al-Tabari and other Ulema attributed Abu Bakr’s prohibition to his foresight of an eventual conquest and integration of the enemy and the potential benefit of preserving their human and material resources [iv].
Refutation-4: Underplaying Abu Bakr’s express prohibition [ii] by al-Tabari’s interpretation [iii] and rationalization [iv] renders the argument untenable – given that Abu Bakr (573-634 C.E) was a contemporary of the Prophet and his most trusted companion and the first Caliph of Islam and al-Tabari (838-923 C.E.) was born more than two hundred years after his death.
5. In the concluding part, the Fatwa refers to a Hadith [Abu Daud] that the Prophet had ordered Hadhrat Usman to “make sudden attack in the morning and set them on fire,” and concludes “burning the enemy is one of the war strategies of the holy Prophet (pbuh)” [v]. It then reverses its position and declares on the strength of Al Quduma: “During a war, they will not be burnt. If the enemy is won over, it is not legitimate to burn them” [VI], but in the same breadth contradicts itself by arguing that “Abu Bakr would order the apostates to be killed by burning” [vii] and, finally, by engaging an inverted logic concludes “there is no dispute today on the illegitimacy of killing by burning” [viii]. As if to justify its vacillation of argument for and against killing and burning the life and properties of the enemy, it quotes a Hadith (Abu Dawood and al-Bukhari) that as Hadhrat Hamza was setting out with a squad as its Commander, the Prophet first asked him to “grab such and such man and kill him by setting him on fire” and later on changed his mind and ordered only slaying and forbidding any burning, “because no one but God puts sinners in fire” [ix].
Refutation-5: The Fatwa’s argument for and against the burning down and random killing and destruction of the life and property of the enemy in repeatedly self-contradictory manner (v to ix above) reflects a closed circuit scholarship that cannot take any argument to a logical conclusion. Hence the concluding part of the Fatwa is refuted on its own.
Conclusion: This part of the Fatwa, like the last two parts (5 and 6) draws entirely on the opinion of scholars and a few very sparsely worded self contradictory Ahadith and does not cite a single Qur’anic verse in its support. Besides, each part of its sprawling arguments has been shown to be untenable or self contradictory. Hence, this 7th part of the Fatwa stands refuted. Furthermore, its reference to an alleged burning of date palms of the Jewish tribe Banu Nadir based on Hadith sources (Imam al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Acc. 365, 366, not expressly mentioned in the Fatwa), grossly distorts the Qur’anic testimony and one of the Fatwa’s earlier claims (Part-3, 2.2 of the Refutation) regarding the cutting down of some date palms by the Sahabas (59:5). Its deduction from arson to committing gruesome acts like “leaving snakes, scorpions and other dangerous insects among them defence establishments (domain) and its unrelenting argument to justify the killing of civilians (children, women and the elderly), notably common Americans reflects the Kharijite ideology that justified “the killing of the children of the infidels, their own parents, and all the non-Muslims of the world.” . Hence, as discussed under the Conclusion of Part-6 of the Refutation, the proponents of the Fatwa seem to be covertly propagating the Kharijite ideology of terror in the name of Salafi ideology, which, by definition is integral to the preservationist, puritanical Wahabi ideology.
1. Ghunit al-talebin, Urdu translation by Shahir Shams Barelwi, Arshad Brothers, New Delhi p.178-180. [Note 2, Part-6. Refutation]
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.