7.30.2005

Muslim-American Scholars Issue Fatwa Condemning Terrorism

Dozens of Muslim-American organizations endorse the ruling

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – A group of top Muslim-American scholars issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, July 28 condemning all acts of terrorism and religious extremism as being fundamentally un-Islamic.

Reading the text of the fatwa at a press conference, Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America Muzammil Siddiqi said, “Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.

Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden – and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not ‘martyrs.’”

The Fiqh Council is a body of 18 Muslim scholars who have been trained in Islamic jurisprudence and are deemed qualified to interpret Islamic law as it is revealed in the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

The scholars based their ruling on several Quranic passages, including the verse, “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]… it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)

The fatwa also cited the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said, “All creation is the family of God, and the person most beloved by God [is the one] who is kind and caring toward His family.”

The fatwa made three basic declarations: first, that all acts of terrorism targeting civilians are forbidden in Islam; second, that it is forbidden for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in acts of terrorism or violence; and third, that it is the civic and religious duty of all Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in efforts to protect the lives of civilians.

As many as 130 Muslim organizations in the United States already have endorsed the fatwa, and representatives from several of the groups participated in the press conference to show their support.

“We’re here to underscore that this is the mainstream, moderate voice of Muslim Americans and Muslims worldwide, as opposed to the extremist forgery of Islam by radicals,” said Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the California-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

“The radicals do not have any Islamic legitimacy. They have no Islamic foundation. It is artificial, what they say, and it is outside the norms of Islam.”

MPAC recently launched a public awareness campaign within the Muslim-American community aimed at reaffirming Islam’s rejection of terrorism and training members of the community to be aware of those who would attempt to use the open environment of the mosque to pursue criminal ends.

Al-Marayati said that MPAC’s anti-terrorism campaign and its support of the fatwa are not a matter of political expediency, but rather an expression of religious duty, particularly toward the younger generation.

“We hope that this would influence other parts of the world, but more importantly, I think we’re doing this for our children and our future. Our children need to be very clear on these matters. There should be no confusion, no ambiguity,” he said.

Representing the younger generation, Rubina Khan, treasurer of the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), added her organization’s endorsement of the fatwa.

“MSA national denounces in the strongest possible terms any terrorist attack. Attacks and bombings of this nature are not only attacks against the innocent people of the world, but attacks against God’s divine revelation, which condemns indiscriminate violence and the targeting of innocents,” she said.

Khan said the MSA regards terrorist attacks as “repulsive and cowardly acts, irrespective of the motivation or perpetrator.”

The Muslim scholars closed the fatwa with a prayer for the triumph of peace and harmony over extremism and violence.

They said, “We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the Untied States and all around the globe.”

Text of the fatwa issued by the Fiqh Council of North America is available at the Web site of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

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