Asian News: Pakistani Sheikh issues fatwa against terrorism
By Majed Iqbal
Pakistani Cleric Sheikh ul- Islam Dr Tahir ul-Qadri has issued a global ruling against terrorism and suicide bombing. His 600-page judgement, known as a fatwa, aims at completely dismantling al-Qaeda’s violent ideology.
The scholar developed his fatwa last year as a response to the increase in bombings across Pakistan by militants. It has now been brought to Britain in the backdrop of the Government's Prevention of Violent Extremism efforts to counter extremism and radicalisation on British soil.
In his edict, the Sheikh writes in the introduction: "The horrendous onslaught of terrorist activity that has continued unabated for the last many years has brought the Muslim Ummah, and Pakistan in particular, into disrepute. There is no denying the fact that the vast majority of Muslims oppose and condemn terrorism in unequivocal terms and are not ready to accept it as even remotely related to Islam in any manner. However, a negligible minority amongst them seems to give terrorism tacit approval."
The fatwa, launched in West minister was a new effort to engage young Muslims after years of failure from various ministers, government funded Islamic groups and mosque curriculums endorsed by the state to make ‘moderate Islam’ more mainstream and to discredit what is dubbed as violent ideology or any idea which leads to its glorification.
Dr Qadri spoke for more than hour to an audience of Muslims, clergy, MPs, police officers and other security officials describing al-Qaeda as an "old evil with a new name" that has not been sufficiently challenged.
"They [terrorists] can’t claim that their suicide bombings are martyrdom operations and that they become the heroes of the Muslim ummah [global brotherhood]. No, they become heroes of hellfire, and they are leading towards hellfire," he said.
"There is no place for any martyrdom and their act is never, ever to be considered jihad."
However, the Press conference displayed more sides to the discussions delving into ideas which the British Government has been keen to discredit in its strategy titled ‘Contest 2" taking the discourse beyond killing, maiming and murder in the name of religion.
"There is a big community here of around two million with a Pakistani background. Youth have mixed loyalties. They do not feel British but nor do they feel wholly Pakistani. They are a diplomatic nightmare for both countries" said the Pakistani born Sheikh.
"Terrorism is, an intellectual phenomenon as it applies to British-Pakistanis. They have been groomed from an early age in their Deobandi-leaning mosques where they are taught that they are living in a kafir society where they cannot integrate"
Discussing international issues, the Sheikh criticised groups and organisations championing the cause for Muslim unity in Muslim countries in light of recent events in Gaza and the ongoing occupation of hotspots like Iraq and Afghanistan confirming that nation states must only worry about what happens in their own borders.
Many have quizzed this notion by citing the forming of the European Union which united Europe as a block with common objectives whilst the Muslim world championing a similar political idea has been heavily criticised and branded as un-acceptable.
"Throughout my life I have never come across a single commandment of one verse of the Quran or a hadith which states that the Muslim ummah is bound to establish one khilafah (caliphate) for the whole world," said the Sheikh
He added: "All governments today can say today in Arabic terms they are a Khilafah (caliphate) if they are working for Islamic principles"
The fatwa has been issued in line with the government’s strategy which in the last year has focused more on tackling people who are not involved in violence or support terrorism.
According to the Contest 2 document, British Muslims would be considered "extremist" if they advocated non-participation in UK elections, called for the creation of a caliphate, promoted Shariah for the Muslim world and argued that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God.
Additionally, extremist views would include supporting armed resistance by Palestinians against Israel as seen in the current Gaza conflict – and a failure to condemn the killing of British service personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan.
However, Government backed groups including Quilliam Foundation have welcomed the fatwa.
A Quilliam spokesperson said: "This fatwa has the potential to be a highly significant step towards eradicating Islamist terrorism. Fatwas by Wahhabi-influenced clerics and Islamist ideologues initiated modern terrorism against civilians.
"Terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda continue to justify their mass killings with self-serving readings of religious scripture. Fatwas that demolish and expose such theological innovations will consign Islamist terrorism to the dustbin of history."
Questions have arisen over the nature of the fatwa and its timing. Pakistan has gone through much in the last decade yet there was been no fatwa issued or Islamic perspectives raised by such Sheikhs on Musharraf’s seizure of the country in 1999 and his declaration of state of emergency in November 2008, the support of the Pakistani government today under President Zardari who has allowed private security firms like Balckwater and xe corps to roam around Pakistan freely amidst allegations of planting bombs and explosions or an open fatwa on the attack on the judiciary and the judges by both Musharraf and Zardari.
Majority of Muslims unequivocally condemn suicide terrorism but still are concerned and raise reservations in special cases where resistance struggles are taking place around the globe in key areas.