By Murtaza Ali Shah
March 03, 2010
LONDON: A highly influential Sufi Muslim scholar on Tuesday issued a historic Fatwa (religious edict) against acts of violence perpetrated in the name of Islam, calling perpetrators of violence and their mentors as destined for hellfire.
Dr Muhammad Tahirul Qadri, the founder of formidable Minhajul Quran movement, used a lecture in London to unreservedly condemn terrorist attacks and suicide bombers and urged the Muslim world to take a firm stand against those who bring Islam in disrepute.
Dr Qadri was joined at the Fatwa launch event by government ministers Jim Fitzpatrick, Shahid Malik, Muhammad Sarwar, MP, Dominic Grieve, MP, representatives of various Muslim organisations, government departments and security think tanks. The 600-page Fatwa on Suicide Bombings and Terrorism has been extracted from Dr Qadri’s latest research work titled Dehshet Geri aur Fitna-e-Khawarij, in a reference to those rebels who had taken up arms against Hazrat Ali (RA).
Speaking at length in English and Arabic, Dr Qadri frequently referred to Quran, Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Hadith and leading Muslim Imams to prove his point that Islam doesn’t allow individuals and non-state groups to launch attacks on civilians and opposition targets.
Islam absolutely condemns violence and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and it’s our Islamic duty to condemn acts of terrorism without any ifs or buts, without any excuses, pretexts and selfish justifications. Those who perpetrate violent attacks and target humanity act outside the ambit of Islam, they are the enemies of Islam, he said, opening his speech.
The launch of Fatwa is being regarded by many circles as a significant and historic step, the first time that such an explicit and unequivocal decree against perpetrators of terror has been broadcast so widely.
The Fatwa is considered arguably the most comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism as demonstrated by Taliban, al-Qaeda and their like-minded sectarian groups. To those who laud suicide bombers and praise their acts, Dr Qadri said, they are in unison with “heroes of hellfire”. “They can’t claim that their suicide bombings are martyrdom operations and that they become heroes of the Muslim Ummah. No, they indeed become heroes of hellfire, and they are leading towards hellfire. Their actions have nothing to do with Jihad,” Dr Qadri said, who has a large following in Europe and many young Muslims are increasingly taking to his message.
He made it clear a thousand good intentions cannot convert a wrong into good, they cannot convert an evil into good. “Terrorism is terrorism, violence is violence and it has no place in Islamic teachings. Islam is a religion of peace. It promotes goodwill, beauty, betterment, goodness and negates all forms of mischief, strife and division. Dr Qadri told The News he wanted to connect with those Muslims who were confused about the actual message of Islam and those whose minds were brainwashed by preachers with little knowledge of Islam. He said his clear and categorical injunction will dissuade impressionable young Muslims from falling prey to radical groups.
He agreed many religious edicts against terrorism have recently been issued in Pakistan and elsewhere but none of them comprehensively addressed the issue of terrorism. Dr Qadri said the latest Fatwa goes further than any previous denunciation. He lamented that many religious and political parties in Pakistan were providing succour to terrorist elements.
“I have been under threat for the last 20 years. I know I am a target for the terrorists and they would love to silence me but I am speaking out against them in the service of my Creator,” Dr Qadri, who is spending most of his time outside of Pakistan, told The News, when asked about the threat to his life.
Islamic scholar says suicide bombers will 'go to hell'
By Jerome Taylor, Religious Affairs Correspondent
1 March 2010
Shaikh Tahir-ul-Qadri is explicit in his condemnation of suicide bombings, kidnappings and the killing of innocents which he describes as ?absolutely against the teachings of Islam?
A respected Islamic scholar will publish a seminal fatwa tomorrow that unequivocally condemns terrorism and warns suicide bombers that they will “go to hell” for their attacks.
Pakistani-born Shaikh Dr Tahir ul-Qadri is launching his fatwa in London as part of a drive to combat the power of jihadist rhetoric on the web and provide English-speaking Muslims with an authoritative theological explanation detailing why terrorism is not permitted.
Although numerous fatwas condemning terrorism have been released by scholars around the world since 9/11, Shaikh 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-influence Wahabis have long reigned supreme.
Until recently English speaking Muslims could easily obtain fatwas justifying suicide bombings and terrorism, but many would have struggled to locate the much more mainstream opinion that such attacks are not justified.
Shaikh Dr Qadri’s ruling is unlikely to sway committed extremists who view any form of dissent from their uncompromising theological outlook as takfir, a sign of unbelief. But counter terrorism officials and mainstream scholars hope it will help persuade those who may be moving towards a violent extremism but have yet to fully devote themselves to terrorism.
Within the British Pakistani community Shaikh Dr Qadri - and his grassroots organisation Minhaj-ul Quran – is well known and respected. He is a "shaikh ul-Islam", one of the highest positions in Islamic jurisprudence, and the UK branch of Minhaj boasts some 25,000 signed up members, most of whom hail from the British Pakistani community.
He learned Islamic jurisprudence under the guidance of Tahir Allauddin, a globally admired scholar who was born in Iraq and migrated to the Pakistani city of Quetta in the late 1950s. Although their teachings have Sufi leanings – like much of Pakistan’s Barelwi school of Islam does – the Minhaj school of thought is very much considered part of the Sunni mainstream.
Finding fluent and approachable Pakistani scholars is important because the majority of British-born extremists involved in domestic or overseas plots have family or cultural links within the Pakistani community.
Video: Muslim scholar issues anti-terror fatwa
In his fatwa Shaikh Dr Qadri, 51, is explicit in his condemnation of suicide bombings, kidnappings and the killing of innocents which he describes as “absolutely against the teachings of Islam”.
“Today’s tragedy is that terrorists, murderers, mischief-mongers and rioters try to prove their criminal, rebellious, tyrannous, brutal and blasphemous activities as a right and a justified reaction to foreign aggression under the garb of defence of Islam and national interests,” he writes.
“It can in now way be permissible to keep foreign delegates under unlawful custody and mirder them and other peaceful non-Muslim citizens in retaliation for interference, unjust activities and aggressive advances of their countries. The one who does has no relation to Islam.”
Shahid Mursaleen, spokesman for Minhaj ul Quran’s British wing, described the fatwa as an attempt to sow doubt in the minds of wannabe extremists.
“[Shaikh Dr Qadri] has hit hard on the terrorists as it prevents Islamists from considering suicide bombers as ‘martyrs’. This fatwa injects doubt into the minds of potential suicide bombers. Extremist groups based in Britain recruit the youth by brainwashing them that they will ‘with certainty’ be rewarded in the next life and Dr Qadri’s Fatwa has removed this key intellectual factor from their minds.”
Unlike extremists, traditional Islamic authorities have been notoriously slow to catch on to the appeal of the web in spreading their message. Violent groups such as Al Qa’ida, and fundamentalist Islamic schools such as Saudi Arabia’s Wahabism, have long used the net to propagate their uncompromising messages. Their fatwas have been translated into scores of languages and are readily accessibly, describing suicide bombers as “shahideen” (martyrs) and those committed to violence as “mujahideen” (holy warriors).
In contrast, traditional Islamic exegesis has remained stubbornly impenetrable to most of the world’s one billion Muslims. It is usually written in complex religious Arabic and is rarely accessible on the web.
But some mainstream scholars are beginning to play the extremists at their own cyber game. In November the Independent revealed how Cairo’s Al Azhar, the Islamic world’s oldest and most respected university, had published a series of fatwas in English that explicitly deconstructed the more hardline rulings from Saudi Arabia’s Wahabis clerics. The 200-page book of fatwas, known as The Response, was published freely online both in English and Urdu, the language spoken most commonly in Pakistan.
Shaikh Dr Qadri’s fatwa has been welcomed by a number of Muslim groups, many of whom do not usually agree with each other.
The Quilliam Foundation, an anti-extremist think thank comprised of former Islamists, described it as a “significant step” in countering Saudi and extremist rhetoric.
“Fatwas by Wahabi-influenced clerics and Islamist ideologues initiated modern terrorism against civilians,” a spokesperson said. “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.”
Inayat Bunglawala, the former spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain who has frequently clashed with Quilliam but has gone on to found his own anti-extremist group “Muslims4UK”, also agreed.
"This adds to the view of many Islamic scholars internationally that terrorism and suicide bombings are unacceptable in Islam," he said. "It is a positive initiative. Anything that helps move young people away from violence and from those who promote violence must be welcomed."
Suicide bombers 'enemies of Islam'
(UKPA) – 1 March 2010
Suicide bombers have been described as the "heroes of hellfire" by a leading Muslim scholar in a fatwa condemning terrorists as the enemies of Islam.
Pakistan-born Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said there were no "ifs or buts" about terrorism and such acts had no justification in the name of Islam.
In a news conference attended by MPs, representatives from the Metropolitan Police, charitable organisations, think-tanks and other groups, he called on Islamic leaders to convey the message that acts of terrorism cut people off as true followers of Islam.
"They can't claim that their suicide bombings are martyrdom operations and that they become the heroes of the Muslim Umma (the wider Muslim community), no, they become heroes of hellfire, and they are leading towards hellfire," he said.
"There is no place for any martyrdom and their act is never, ever to be considered Jihad," he added.
Dr Qadri, who spoke at length in both English and Arabic before his audience, said his fatwa - a religious edict or ruling - was an "absolute" condemnation of terrorism without "any excuses or pretexts".
"Good intentions cannot convert a wrong into good, they cannot convert an evil into good," he said. "Terrorism is terrorism, violence is violence and it has no place in Islamic teaching and no justification can be provided for it, or any kind of excuses or ifs or buts."
He insisted that Islam was a religion of peace that promotes beauty, "betterment", goodness and "negates all form of mischief and strife".
The 600-page fatwa by Dr Qadri, founder of the global Minhaj-ul-Quran movement, which has thousands of supporters across the world as well as in the UK, will be translated into English in the coming weeks. His talk will also be made available online in an attempt to counter extremist versions of Islam available on the internet.
A fatwa, an edict issued by a learned Muslim scholar, may concern any aspect of Islamic life. The term became famous in the Western world in 1989 after the author Salman Rushdie was forced into hiding following a "death fatwa" issued by Ayatollah Khomeni, then Supreme Leader of Iran, on the grounds that his book, The Satanic Verses, had "insulted" Islam.
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