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Refutation of Sheikh Yousuf Al-Abeeri's Fatwa Supporting Wanton Killing Of Innocent Civilians - Part-3



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-3

By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

Feb. 02, 2013

Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009

This part cites three Qur’anic verses, three (2:194, 16:126, 42:30) already repeatedly quoted in the first two parts (Part-1, Part-2). Additionally, it refers to the themes of two other verses, 2:178 and 59:6 without mentioning their Sura/ serial numbers. The arguments tabled under the Refutation discourses Part-1 and Part-2 exempt the already quoted verses from lending any support to the Fatwas as summarily recapitulated below.

1.  The Already Quoted Verses Are:

1.1.      2:194 quoted once each in Part-1, and 2 respectively

1.2.    16:126, quoted four times in Part-1, and once in Part-2, and

1.3.    42:30, quoted once in Part-1 as part of the passage 42:39-42.

The renditions of these verses as tabled in the fatwa discourse and the arguments tabled under the Refutation are: 

1.1. “[Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. ‘(2: 194).

Argument under Refutation (Part-1, point 3): “The verse merely authorizes the Prophet's followers to fight back if they are attacked in the four months of truce [Muharram, Rajab, Dhu 'l-Qa'dah and Dhu 'l-Hujjah] that gave the otherwise perennially warring tribes an opportunity to engage in trade and commerce and live in peace. It has no relevance to the fatwa.” 

 1.2 “And if you punish (your enemy, O you believers in the Oneness of Allah), then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.). (16:126).

Argument under Refutation (Part-2, 2.ii):  “the emphasis on enduring an affliction in patience in 16:126 points to a softer response (even forgiveness) to an oppression, so as not to be excessive in response. It does not support - rather, it purports to negate the theme of the Fatwa.”

1.3. “The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof, but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Verily, He likes not the Zalimun” (oppressors, polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc)” (42:39).

Argument under Refutation (Part-1, point 4): “The generic passage 42:39-42 has no relevance to the Fatwa..... The exhortation to forgiveness and reconciliation does not support the fatwa - rather, it negates the theme of the Fatwa.”   

2.       Newly Introduced Qur’anic Themes

2.1. Verse 2:178 - the Qur’anic notion of Quisas (retributive justice),

After tabling some arguments towards its concluding section, the article states the following in relation to the Qur’anic principle on Quisas (like for like punishment):

“But the law of quasas, ordained by God is better as it serves to pacify the anger and agony of the victim or his kin and a safer way to ensure the safety of life and parts of the body otherwise people would kill someone or cut off a part of someone’s body at will and pay the ransom. This is contrary to common wisdom or human principles...”

 Refutation of the principle of qisas as stated above.

The principle stated above conflates the divine scheme on retributive justice (qisas) with inflicting like for like injury rather than paying a compensation for an injury and describes paying ransom as “contrary to common wisdom or human principles...” The truth is the sole Qur’anic verse, 2:178, unless quoted partially, prescribes just the opposite of what the above principle states,

“You who believe, compensation for (anyone) killed has been prescribed for you: the free for the free; the slave (‘abd) for the slave; the female for the female. But if any from the family* (of the deceased) pardon him (who caused the death), then he should follow this up with something appropriate (as compensation), and execute (the same) in a good gesture. This is a Concession and Mercy from your Lord. Anyone who exceeds the limits after this shall have painful torment (2:178). *[Lit., ‘brethren’, i.e. brother or sister.]

This passage embraces four distinct stipulations:

        It begins with an illustrative statement (underlined), which refers to the prevalent custom of equitable retaliation for the loss of life.

        This is followed by an optional forgiveness-cum-retribution clause (shown in bold), which, on one hand asks the victim’s family to be forgiving, and, on the other, commands the offender to offer the victim’s family a generous compensation, in a good gesture.

        The good gesture is described a Concession and Mercy from God, and not a favor by the offender.

        The offenders are warned of severe punishment if they failed to comply with it.

Hence, this reference has no relevance to the theme of the fatwa.

Paradoxically the law of Quisas as elaborated in this verse led to the eradication of blood vendetta that was endemic in pre-Islamic Arabia. It will be just the inversion (turning upside down) of interpretation to cite the theme of this verse to justify retaliatory killing of innocent civilians.

2.2. Verse 59:5. The fatwa tables this statement as part of its argument for inflicting like for like punishment: “God declared it appropriate the cutting off of the date trees of the Jews by the Sahaba in order to demean them.”

 Argument showing the distortion of the historical context of this verse and the lack of its relevance to the theme of the fatwa – retaliatory killing of innocent civilians:

 The historic background to this instruction (cutting down palm trees) as in the passage 59:11/12 was as follows:

The Muslims suffered a crushing defeat in the battle of the Uhad, fought close to Medina against a powerful attacking Meccan army. This prompted the hypocrites of Medina to turn against the Prophet. They broke their ties with him, and made an alliance with the Meccans (4:51) and conspired with the Medinite Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir (59:11/12). The Banu Nadir plotted to assassinate the Prophet and as the plot was exposed, the Prophet, as the civil head of Medina, demanded their expulsion from the oasis for breaking their treaty. On their refusal to comply, he laid siege on their settlement. The Nadirs counted on the hypocrites for their pledged support, but they never turned up (59:11/12). Finally, as a prelude to an attack the Prophet ordered his men to cut their palm trees down (59:5). Banu Nadir surrendered without any armed engagement, and were allowed to leave their settlement with all the belongings that they could carry on their camels and horses.

Hence the theme of this verse is not relevant to the theme of the fatwa – retaliatory killing of innocent civilians.

 3. Summary Refutation

This third part quotes three previously cited verses (2:194, 16:126, 42:30) that were shown to be of no relevance to the Fatwa. The themes of two additional Qur’anic verses (2; 178, 59:6) included in the arguments are not relevant to the fatwa either as demonstrated under 2.1 and 2.2 above. Hence, this third part, and cumulatively, the first three parts of the Fatwa fail to draw any legitimacy from the Qur’an and thus stand refuted.

The Fatwa (cumulatively), however, continues to draw on the past Fatwas. But as mentioned under the terms of reference, point II of the first refutation discourse (Part-1), “Fatwas issued by the scholars/ imams of Islam, no matter how distinguished, pious and respected they were in their era, were inevitably informed by the historical realities and challenges of the era; their validity for later dates as 'religious edicts' can only be contingent to their compatibility with the Qur'anic message.” Hence, since the Fatwa’s theme is incompatible with the Qur’anic message, citing past Fatwas to justify the theme carries no religious/ Qur’anic legitimacy. 

4. Review of This Part (Part-III) Of the Fatwa –An Academic Exercise

4.1. Part-3 begins with a fatwa in the form of a question and answer attributed to Ibn Taimiyyah (Al Fata’wa’ 30/362). The question is loaded with an inverted logic: whether God will reduce the rewards of a “man whose property was taken away unjustly and he was humiliated and was physically hurt” The answer that runs a full paragraph opens with a self evident proposition: “The reward of the victim is not reduced or lost if he forgives the oppressor even if his loss is small.” The paragraph concludes with the clarifying statement: “his rewards are with God and obviously whatever is with God is better and everlasting.” The Fatwa then cites the Qur’anic verse 42:40 to support this self evident proposition that has no relevance to the theme of the fatwa.

 4.2. The Fatwa then quotes the verse 16:126 twice to advocate like for like punishment and goes on to quote Nawawi (Al Muhazzab, 2/186) and the verse 2:194 to argue in favor of like for like punishment for such offences as “burning alive, forced drowning, stoning to death, killing by pushing someone from a height, battering with wood, confinement without food and water.” It then quotes the verse 16:126 for the third time and quotes Hadhrat Bara (R.A) to lend strength to its foregoing argument supporting like for like retaliation for the cited brutalities but excludes ‘burning alive’ from the list of retaliatory punishment by referring to a Hadith quoted in the concluding paragraph of Part-2: “no one but Allah has the authority to punish someone by torment of fire.”

4.3. The Fatwa then quotes the three repeatedly quoted verses 2:194, 16:126, 42:40 one after another, from Ash Shawkani’s book Naailul Awtar (6/39) and arbitrarily concludes “the generality of the arguments in favor of sanctity of blood, property and wealth and honour of people is rendered into specificity by the three verses mentioned.”  

4.4. The Fatwa then refers to Ibn Taimiyyah’s work (Aalamul Mouqiyeen 1/138) and lists the three above quoted verses (2:194, 16:126, 42:40) that have no relevance to the theme of the fatwa. It then abruptly raises the theme of the verse 59:6 to support the notion of like for like punishment (maslah), though this verse relates to a totally different historical context as explained above (2.2). Furthermore, the Fatwa draws the following arbitrary conclusion at the back of these four unrelated verses:

“This is an argument in favour of the view that God likes the oppressor to be insulted and declares it appropriate. And if burning of the property of such a wicked and deceitful person is justified because he has committed excesses against the Muslims in terms of wealth or property then it is more justifiable and greater justice that the Muslims should burn his property and goods if he has burnt and destroyed and innocent Muslim’s property.”

Refutation of this statement, which is styled like a fatwa:

i)       The statement stands in stark contradiction to the Qur’anic emphasis on patience (16:126) and forgiveness of enemies (42:30) repeatedly referenced the fatwa (ref. 1.2, 1.3 above) and clearly spelled out in its following verse dating from its concluding period: “... And let not the hatred of a people who (once) obstructed you from (entering the) Sacred House, lead you to be hostile….” (5:2).

ii)      It disregards the need for any authorization by a duly vested legal, political or constitutional authority to empower any Muslim individual or group to commit any violence or take a retaliatory action against a perceived Muslim or non-Muslim enemy.  All Qur’anic verses relating to fighting came during the Medinite period, when the Muslims had formed an integrated community under the unified leadership of the Prophet, and were in a position to defending themselves in an organized and politically responsible manner. This was different from responding violently against injustice in an individual capacity or a fragmented manner as the above general declaration purports to suggest. The Qur’anic Meccan period’s exhortations on jihad are also not supportive of any recourse to violence in an individual or splintered manner, when faced with corporate oppression.


Each three parts of the Fatwa (Part-1, 2, 3) is refuted, convincingly and objectively, on the strength of the Qur’an. The inverted interpretation of the theme of the Qur’anic verse 2:178 and lack of relevance of the theme of 59:6 has been demonstrated – though none of these verses are identified by Qur’anic chapter/ verse reference. The right of a Muslim to return violence with like violence on an individual capacity or as a splintered group except in an organized and politically matured and responsible manner has also been refuted.

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