By Shahid Mursaleen and Zahid Iqbal
The new fatwa from the renowned authority of Islamic world, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a spiritual leader of the overwhelming majority of Muslims deals a devastating blow to al-Qaeda and its affiliates by removing decisively any remnant of theological justifications for terrorism.
Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri has been obliged to issue this fatwa because of what has been happening in Pakistan over the last year and its affects in the western world. The 600-page fatwa is based on all four schools of jurisprudence: Hanafi, Shafii, Hanbali and Maliki as well as the Jafari. He has consulted hundreds of classical Islamic texts, the scholars, fiqh and the Hadith. The main theme of the Fatwa is that any act of terrorism such as suicide bombing cannot be justified and there are no conditions, no pre-texts or exemptions. Such acts make the people carrying out the attacks unbelievers or kufr.
This fatwa aims to deal a major blow to the phenomenon of terrorism and suicide bombings carried out by organizations and individuals in the name of Islam. One may ask why this fatwa should succeed in achieving this aim. In considering the potential impact of the fatwa, it is not just a question of the number of people that may be influenced by Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. It is rather the content and substance of the fatwa which is the key to achieving its aim.
The fatwa stands on its own
It is essential to understand that this fatwa consists not merely of a 1 or 2 page opinion on the subject matter, as previous fatwas have been. But this fatwa is a comprehensively researched and evidenced paper, one that derives from numerous references from the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions [the primary scriptural resources of Islam], along with a comprehensive range of classical and authoritative texts of Islamic Jurisprudence and Belief that no Muslim can dare to deny. The in-depth study of these references and reasoned argument leads to only one valid conclusion – that Islam absolutely forbids the killings of civilian and non-combatants and suicide bombings under any circumstances and with no exceptions or caveats. But the key point is these conclusions are not based upon the author’s interpretation or ijtihad of these references, but that he takes into account the judgments of recognized and accepted classical scholars and authorities.
How this fatwa will work
This fatwa will engage in the battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims through several fronts. It will clarify the concepts of the brainwashed radicals at an intellectual level and will address all of their ‘justifications’ and will leave absolutely no pretext for committing acts of terror or suicide bombings. The fatwa presents clear, evidence-based arguments that this kind of Muslims will not previously have encountered or been presented with. The fatwa will either completely alter their thinking, and bring them back to the true Islamic position or at the very least will lessen the enthusiasm of their support or diminish their sympathies for the perpetrators.
Secondly it will de-radicalize the radicals. There is a substantial minority those already on the path of radicalization, made vulnerable through sentiments and their grievances in relation to what they see as injustices carried out against Muslims around the world. Through misguided and manipulative preachers and via internet postings their presupposition of what is or what is not outside the bounds of permissibility. This fatwa will present an authoritative position on the absolute condemnation by Islam of employing violence to further one’s aims, and undermine their belief in the permissibility of and even reward gained by committing indiscriminate violence and suicide attacks. This will inject doubt to the mind of the radical, if not completely convince the radical to reform himself as in Islam where there is doubt, it should be avoided. This will make him much less likely take that final and terrible step to kill.
Thirdly it will prevent millions of ordinary Muslims who have absolutely no tendency towards violence or inclination towards religious radicalism, but it is this general populace that provides the recruiting ground for religious radicals. This fatwa provides an intellectual defense against radical propaganda or distorted religious teachings and minimize the potential for an ordinary Muslim to fall prey to preachers and internet postings and such like and prevent them embarking upon the path or radicalism.
Shahid Mursaleen is spokesman for Minhaj-ul-Quran UK. Zahid Iqbal is a senior member.