Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009
16 Dec 2012
This recurring refutation is in continuation of the Part-1 of conclusive refutation of the Fatwa posted Dec. 05.
As in Part-1, the Al-Abeeri’s Fatwa maintains the standard juristic methodology of quoting a related, obliquely related, generic or even unrelated Qur'anic verse and then tabling the opinions of different scholars /theologians (ulama/Imams) to connect the quoted verse with the theme of the fatwa through a scholastic method of deduction.
Part-1cited the verses from Surah al baqara - 2:194 (once), al-Nahl 16:126 (four times) and the passages 16:126-128 and 42:39-42 on like for like defensive or punitive measure in warfare as the nucleus of its arguments. This part repeats the verses 2:194 and 16:126 rendered below and adds another unrelated verse from Surah al Isra - 17:15 as the foundation of its arguments:
“The sacred month is for the sacred month, and for the prohibited things, there is the Law of Equality (Qisas). Then whoever transgresses the prohibition against you, you transgress likewise against him. And fear Allah, and know that Allah is with Al-Muttaqun.” (2:194)
“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).
“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another” (17:15)
The following refutations concerning the verse 16:126 have already been established in the Part 1 of the Refutation:
i) Point 4. “The emphasis on enduring an affliction in patience in Al-Nahl - 16:126-128 points to a softer response to an oppression, so as not to be excessive in response
ii) Point 5. Tables untenable arguments to transform the "general circumstances and the context of the revelation" of the verse 16:126 into "specific for special circumstances"
iii) Point 6 establishes that “by any stretch of imagination the passage 16:126-127 does not support the fatwa”
iv) Point 7 notes the incongruity in anchoring the verse 16:126 to the Prophet’s reported intention to take like for like revenge for mutilation of corpses and connecting it his subsequent forbiddance of this barbaric custom after the revelation had come about.
For clarity of presentation, as in Part-1, this second part is also broken down into reader-friendly components and each component is refuted one by one.
Fundamental Truths and Terms of Reference.
As in the discourse refuting Part-1 of the Fatwa, this part is scrutinized against a number of fundamental and irrefutable points illustrated in Part 1 and summarily noted below against bullets:
I. The Qur'an and Qur'an alone is the final authority for supporting a fatwa that could be binding on the community for all times.
II. The validity of all past ‘fatwas’ is contingent to their compatibility with the Qur'anic message.
III. The 'fatwas' and reports quoted today may have inevitably suffered distortion, forgery or unwitting printing or transmission error.
IV. ‘The classical theory of ijma (consensus of scholars) was not recognized in full even during its formative period. Because of its purely theoretical nature and perhaps for want of some definite practicable machinery, it could not be utilized to reform the Muslim society 
V. Any statement or account in the secondary theological discourses of Islam that are in conflict with the letter and spirit of the Qur'an must be treated as context/ era specific, forged or fabricated
VI. The Qur'an calls for use of reason (aql), reflection (fikr), logical thinking (fiqh) as well as mutual consultation as long as consensus does not conduce to grave sins and abominations such as gross injustice to the weak (42:37/38). The spirit of upholding universal justice is reinforced by the Qur'an's categorization of justice as a harrama or binding instruction (6:152) that must be upheld justly (4:58), even if a matter concerns "yourselves" (ones own self), (your) parents or relatives, the rich, the poor (4:135) or those against whom you nurture any hatred (5:8).
VII. The Qur'an abolished the notion of collective and arbitrary punishment - killing any person (a man, a woman or a slave) of a tribe to retaliate the killing of its corresponding member by any person of that tribe.” (2:178).
VIII. Scholars agree that the work of Ibn Hisham, compiled about two hundred years after the Prophet's death, which with time became the primary source material on the Prophet's life cannot be treated as an authentic historical record - at best it is an embellished history .
IX. Even from a purely secular perspective, the Qur'an having been recited in bits and pieces, recorded and memorized at the same historical point "does provide a firm basis of undoubted authenticity" .
Statement-by-Statement Scrutiny and Refutation of the Fatwa
1. Having concluded Part-1 with Qur’anic verses on restraint Part-2 begins with a self-contradictory statement: "So, the verse demonstrates that practicing maslah (mutilation of corpses) is a taboo but when taking revenge, this prohibition stands annulled though the verse is general in nature.”
Refutation. On one hand the Fatwa concedes that mutilation of corpses of the enemy (as some Muslim martyrs reportedly suffered at the battlefield of Uhud) is a mere taboo, on the other it validates it on the basis of the quoted Qur'anic verse (16:126), while admitting that the " the verse is general in nature.” The argument tabled is thus simply inverted – quoting a verse calling for restraint to support like for like retaliation for mutilation of corpses
2. It then tables the following quotations (i, ii, iii), first two from Ibn-e-Taimiyyah (1263-1328) supporting mutilation of corpses and a third from a hadith.
i) "As the Muslims have a discretion of not resorting to it (mutilation) as enduring patience is better for them, they can resort to it as a part of invitation to the infidels to imaan (faith) and prevent them from aggression."
ii) "Although maslah (mutilation of dead bodies) has been forbidden, God has declared it mubah (discretion) for Muslims to resort to mutilation against the infidels in case they have resorted to mutilation against them on the basis of Sura Al-Nahl - 16 :126 (the verse already quoted four times in Part-1, under points 4,5,6 and 7 as summarily reviewed above) .
iii) A tradition is [from Masnad Ahmad in the hadith of Simrah bin Jundab and Imran bin Hiseen] is however quoted that has the Prophet forbidding the mutilation of corpses."
Refutation: As under point 4,5,6,7, Part 1, the verse Surah al-Nahl on restraint in quoted to justify mutilation of corpses in like for like retaliation and the Prophet is quoted to forbid it. The theme however is not relevant to the Fatwa at all, but is constantly bringing the barbaric imagery of mutilation into the reader’s mind flanked by a Qur’anic verse on restraint and the reported Prophet’s forbiddance of this custom that was reportedly carried out by a few women of the victorious Quraish army in the battlefield of Uhud (624).
3. The Fatwa then goes on to argue the exact method of killing the enemy - whether killing an infidel in two strike will be a transgression if the infidel had struck only once.
Refutation. These issues appeared important to the terrorist factions of early of Islam, notably the kharajites) and demonstrate the hair-splitting literalism of their brutal ideology. But the kharajites were expelled from the pale of Islam, as their very name suggests – kharajite means those who have exited themselves from the community. Their ideology was never a part of Islam and stands anti-Islamic today.
4. As retaliatory killing of innocent women and children conflicts with the Qur’an’s statement: “And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another,” (17:15), the Fatwa challenges the rationale of the Qur’an with this statement: “So this point of view is wrong.” It substantiates its refutation of the Qur’anic pronouncement by suggesting that the Prophet fought with the fighters of the Quraish though the treaty was breached only by some particular members of the tribe. Using this analogy, the Fatwa concludes, “if the enemy kills women and children among the Muslims, there is the justification of killing women and children of the enemy.”
Refutation. The argument is self defeating as it questions the validity of a key Qur'anic pronouncement (“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another,”) which is repeated several times in the Qur'an.
5. The author also questions the Prophet's decision to fight the Quraish tribe although the peace treaty was violated by some specific individuals - Bani Bakar bin Wayl or the sardars of Quraish, not the whole tribe.
Refutation. The author of the Fatwa is taking the conduct of war on person to person basis. This was relevant in the pre-Islamic days when avenge was taken on head to head basis. With the formation of an integrated community in Medina - a community that comprised all native tribes regardless of religion, man to man encounter was ruled out. This argument has no relevance to the theme.
6. The Fatwa then refers to the alleged massacre of some 700 jews as reported in Ibn Hisham's embellished biography  held authentic by Muslim theologians/ historians for political and emotional reasons. He argues that since the Prophet could punish the whole community for the decision of its elders and a family pools money to ransom a killer, a community of people must share the punishment of crime committed by its leaders. It then invokes the pre-Islamic tribal custom to nominating one of its members to be killed as retaliatory punishment as a proof of the collective responsibility of the community. The Fatwa then quotes the following Qur'anic verses to substantiate its hypothesis of proposing/ inflicting collective punishment for the crime committed by few.
“And fear a trial which will not strike those who have wronged among you exclusively, and know that Allah is severe in penalty."(Al Anfal- 8:25)
“And when We intend to destroy a city, We command its affluent but they defiantly disobey therein; so the word comes into effect upon it, and We destroy it with [complete] destruction.“(Al Isra- 17:16)
Refutation: The Fatwa fails to recognize that whereas God can send a disaster to a whole community for whatever reason, humans are not to act like God. They cannot just drop an atom bomb on a hostile neighbor to punish it, the way God sends hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other calamities upon large groups of humans. God has no common boundary with humans and therefore swapping God with man in the Qur'anic verses is not tenable and a distortion of the Qur'anic message.
7. The Fatwa brings Imam Qurtubi (1214-1273), a famous mufassir, muhaddith and faqih from Cordoba (Spain) conceivably to lend itself theological credentials - but it only shows him quoting two verses of the Qur'an16:126 already quoted in Part-1, 4,5,6,7 Part-2.ii); and Al-Baqara-194 (earlier quoted in Part-1, 3). It then cites an innocuous conjugal incident of the Prophet's life: ‘The holy prophet (PBUH) retained the cup which was broken by Hadhrat Aiyesha (R.A.) and returned an unbroken cup saying ‘a cup in lieu of a cup and food in lieu of food’. From these three totally unrelated illustrations jumps to the conclusion that the killer will be killed in the same way or with the same tool he has used to kill his victim, unless he has committed the murder in an immoral way, say, through sodomy and then goes on to describe the graphic details of such immoral acts and the barbaric descriptions of punishments such as pushing wooden shaft through the anus till the enemy is killed – the graphic details are too revolting to quote.
Having largely devoted Part-1 to the theme of mutilation of corpses in the battlefield that some women from the Quraish (the Prophet’s enemy) had taken recourse to against Muslim martyrs, Part-2 continues to dwell on this theme conceivably to bring the barbaric imagery of mutilation into the reader’s mind side by side with the enunciation of unrelated Qur’anic verses and the Prophet’s forbiddance of this pre-Islamic custom thereby creating an inter-association that repetition creates. That is, a casual, fanatic or not-too critical reader may incorporate or appropriate sadism in his religious thoughts as a prelude to committing acts of wanton terror.
The Fatwa does not offer any new argument over its Part-1 discourse while each of it fresh statements or components as tabled above thus it stands indisputably refuted. A verse from the Sura al Isra “And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another” (17:15) it quotes, only weakens its arguments for inflicting any punishment on the innocent, while two verses on divine scheme of subjecting humans to calamities is quoted as an unlawful basis for humans to follow the divine example.
1. Ahmad Hassan, The Doctrine of Ijma in Islam, New Delhi 1992, p. 259].
2. The Classical Biography (Sira) Of the Prophet Is More of a Story than a Historical Record – It Is a Highly Embellished History
3. Maxime Rodinson, Muhammad, English translation, 2nd Edition, London, 1996, p.x, Foreword
Dec. 15, 2012.
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-4.
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.
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism