Pipe Line News : Can Tahir ul-Qadri Help Reform Islam?
By WILLIAM MAYER
March 3, 2010
- San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In what might possibly be seen as a hopeful sign of incipient Islamic moderation, Tahir ul-Qadri a Pakistani born Sufi scholar today announced in London, a 600 page fatwa [religious finding] that terrorism in any form is inconsistent with the Muslim religion.
Specifically ul-Qadri condemned the practice of suicide bombing, saying its practitioners "are going to hell."
"I feel that the youth living in the Western world...since they don't go through the original Islamic sources they are being victimized and are being misguided on the concepts of Islam...you go on the Internet and you will find the extremist people and the terrorist people are running uncountable websites giving the wrong concepts of jihad wrong concepts of suicide bombing giving the fatwas in favor of suicide bombing, creating some exemptions for them and this is how they are being brainwashed..." [source, BBC interview, http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/03/100302_suicide_bombing_fatwa_nh_sl.shtml]
Such condemnations have taken place in the past, most conspicuously in the wake of the 9.11.01 attack in the U.S. and the 7.11.05 attack in London, unfortunately to little effect.
Some observers of these efforts have labeled them as having been crafted more for public consumption than anything else. Tahir ul-Qadri's declaration does appear to be a bit different however, if for no other reason than the sheer length of his exegesis.
In many ways the worth of such arguments depends on what weight imams give them, they being the ultimate determiners of appropriateness. In reality, no one aside from Islamic scholars and imams can legitimately determine to what extent ul-Qadri's reasoning is consistent with the large body of Islamic jurisprudence which already exists on this and related topics.
In Islam, the term for defining how Quranic texts are interpreted is ijtihad, an Arabic word based on the root jahada - to change, also the root word of the now omnipresent jihad. Since many believe that the religion is less amenable to diverging interpretations than either Christianity or Judaism a strong burden falls upon those bent on realignment or reformation.
Another complicating factor is that Tahir ul-Qadri is a Sufi, an extreme minority sect within Islam so again the bar will be raised in evaluating his arguments no matter how rigorous.
In a seminal 2007 debate with then London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Dr. Daniel Pipes argued that Islam had changed in the past, that certain "loopholes," were invented to get around arcane or unwieldy propositions, and that change was necessary for the religion to reasonably coexist in a modern secular world.
"...I would argue to you, ladies and gentlemen, it must be fought and must be defeated as in 1945 and 1991, [applause] as the German and the Soviet threats were defeated. Our goal must be, in this case, the emergence of Islam that is modern, moderate, democratic, humane, liberal, and good neighborly. And that it is respectful of women, homosexuals, atheists, whoever else. One that grants non-Muslims equal rights with Muslims." [source, Radical Islam vs. Civilization]
The immediate response so far [from those whose ideology is most in need of reformation] to ul-Qadri's statement was not positive, with London based Azzam Tamimi a renown Islamic extremist who brushed off the scholar's efforts stating that despite having preached his interpretation for "many, many years...it's evident that an increasing number of people are resorting to suicide bombing..." [source, BBC interview,