By New Age Islam Edit Desk
April 9, 2013
The ongoing civil war in Syria, which is a free-for-all not only in the sense that there are so many parties and groups fighting against Bashar al Assad’s tyrannical regime but also in the sense that there are so many clerics issuing fatwa to pep up their favourite sect or group so that they can win the war. Assad, who belongs to the Alawite denomination of the Shia sect is facing a rebellion from the Sunni majority. The rebellion was an offshoot of the Arab Spring that uprooted the dictators of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. However, Assad has been able to hold on to power and has been successful so far to make the situation complicated.
The civil war is not a war between Islam and kufr as both the warring sects would have the people believe. Both the sides are meting out the most barbaric treatment to their opponents. They are killing people, raping women and girls, both Muslim and Christian, and burning villages forcing villagers to flee. The government forces have been carrying out operations on Sunni population and the Free Syrian Army backed by the US have been retaliating by killing and raping Shias. And both the sides have declared the war a jihad.
The videos uploaded on the internet show the barbaric killings of both fighters and civilians at the hands of Muslims. In a scene, a small boy is shown given a chopper to hack an elderly person lying on the ground to death. The boy wields a number of blows until the man becomes motionless.
This is not jihad but a civil war getting complicated. Initially it was a mass uprising against a dictator but later it turned into a Shia Sunni conflict thus making people of the two sects taking sides on sectarian lines. Last week, a Sunni cleric was killed in his mosque as he was a supporter of Assad regime thus removing any kind of confusion regarding the nature of the conflict.
The Shias see the rebellion against the Assad regime as a threat to the Shia world and therefore is hell-bent on saving it. As young Shia men and girls from across the neighbouring countries from Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen etc are headed towards Syria to fight to save the Shia regime in Syria, the Sunni circles have also been trying hard to mobilize support of Sunnis all around the world. Even Jabhat al Nusrah, an Al Qaida affiliate in Iraq got involved in the war to topple Assad and establish an ‘Islamic state’ there. The desperation reached such a stage that Sunni salafi clerics also jumped into the fray to buoy up the spirits of the supporters of Free Syrian Army, calling all the Muslims to join the FSA in Syria.
The salafi-Sunni clerics issued the fatwa to encourage Muslims to join the ‘jihad’ against the Shias. Saudi cleric Md Al Arifi is reported to have issued a fatwa calling Muslim girls and divorced and widowed women to offer themselves in temporary marriage to the Syrian fighters and secure their place in heaven. However, Al Arifi later released a video refuting the charge saying anyone who believes in the fatwa is insane. He was also criticized for the fatwa at home terming it inhuman and against the precepts of Islam. But the damage had already been done. The fatwa was widely circulated by Islamophobic sites on the internet and also by the Assad regime to tarnish the image of his opponents which influenced a section of Tunisian girls to head towards Syria. Some jihadists returning from the battlefield said that they saw 13 Tunisian teenage girls in Syria who wanted to join the sexual jihad. Another teenage girl called Rahmah disappeared from her home only to return after a few days. She had also headed to Syria to join the ‘sexual jihad’. However her mother said that she was not a religious fanatic but was cajoled by her salafist fellow students into joining the jihad. In another instance, a man divorced his wife and headed with her to Syria to enable her to engage in ‘sexual jihad’.
The fatwa raised concerns in the political circles in Tunisia. The government had to issue a statement criticizing the fatwa and asked the people not to be influenced by it and not to join the war in Syria as it was not a holy war. The Tunisian minister of Religious affairs Noureddine al-Khadimi said that the fatwa was something “new and foreign to the country” and that people were not obligated to follow them.
Though temporary marriage is acceptable in Shia community and shunned by the Sunnis, in order to win the war against Assad, the Sunni clerics have violated their own belief allowing temporary marriage of a few hours between the fighters and young girls. This shows how low they can stoop to win a war whereas Islam does not allow the violation of a moral or military law in the battle field.
Another Sudanese cleric Yasir-al Ajlouni who spent 17 years in Syria also issued a fatwa declaring the rape of non-Sunni women, especially of the women of the Alawite Shia sect including the druze and non-Muslim women permissible according to the Quran mentioning the phrase melkil Yemeen (what your right hands possess) meaning slave women. Ajlouni goes one step further saying that the women prisoners (sabaya) can be forcefully married without any mehr and the children from her can be declared as legal offspring. The fatwa seemed to have its effect as incidents of rape of Christian women from Aleppo were reported soon after that.
Earlier, an Egyptian cleric Sheikh Ishaq Huwaini, also allowed taking women of enemies captive and raping them as maal-e-ghanimah distributed among the soldiers.
Though the larger Islamic community and clerics have condemned these un-Islamic and inhuman fatwas, they have vitiated the atmosphere and brought disrepute to Islam as Islam does not permit promiscuity and fornication in any form. The Islamophobic sites that survive on such spicy stuff against Islam circulated these refuted and anonymous fatwas so widely that they seemed to be real. The younger generation of Muslims who are much dependent on internet is easily swayed by anything posted on the internet without judging the pros and cons of the content. The followers of the two sects consider the war as a jihad whereas it is only a nasty and horrible civil war in which all the religious and moral values have been thrown to the wind. And worse, the religious leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan also committed blasphemy against Islam, against the Quran and against the Prophet (pbuh) attributing immoral practices to them and maligning Islam and Muslims the world over only to win a war. Though the number of girls influenced by these fatwas is small, it has set a very bad precedent among the Muslims and has promoted fornication and promiscuity among the Muslim youth giving the impression that everything is permissible during a war. The head of the Tunisian League for Human Rights, Balkis Mechri-Allagui rightly expressed her concern over this development. She said, ““Although the number of young girls involved is small, we are not concerned by numbers as much as we are concerned with the presence of this case in our society. What we know is that there are girls being attracted to go to Syria for jihad, and therefore we must stand up against this problem.”