BBC News : Islamic scholar Tahir ul-Qadri to issue terrorism fatwa

By Dominic Casciani
03:43 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

An influential Muslim scholar is to issue in London a global ruling against terrorism and suicide bombing.

Dr Tahir ul-Qadri, from Pakistan, says his 600-page judgement, known as a fatwa, completely dismantles al-Qaeda's violent ideology.

The scholar describes al-Qaeda as an "old evil with a new name" which has not been sufficiently challenged.

The scholar's movement is growing in the UK and has attracted the interest of policymakers and security chiefs.

In his religious ruling, Dr Qadri says that Islam forbids the massacre of innocent citizens and suicide bombings.

Although many scholars have made similar rulings in the past, Dr Qadri's followers argue that the massive document being launched in London goes much further.

They say it sets out point-by-point theological arguments against the rhetoric used by al-Qaeda inspired recruiters.

The fatwa also challenges the religious motivations of would-be suicide bombers who are inspired by promises of an afterlife.

The populist scholar developed his document last year as a response to the increase in bombings across Pakistan by militants.

The basic text has been extended to 600 pages to cover global issues, in an attempt to get its theological arguments taken up by Muslims in western nations. It will be promoted in the UK by Dr Qadri's organisation, Minhaj ul-Quran International.

Shahid Mursaleen, spokesman for Minhaj-ul-Quran in the UK, said the fatwa was hard-hitting.

"This fatwa injects doubt into the minds of potential suicide bombers," he said.

"Extremist groups based in Britain recruit the youth by brainwashing them that they will 'with certainty' be rewarded in the next life.

"Dr Qadri's fatwa has removed this key intellectual factor from their minds."

Religious rulings

The document is not the first to condemn terrorism and suicide bombing to be launched in the UK.

Scholars from across the UK came together in the wake of the 7 July London attacks to denounce the bombers and urge communities to root out extremists.

But some scholarly rulings in the Middle East have argued that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is an exceptional situation where "martyrdom" attacks can be justified.

Although Dr Qadri has a large following in Pakistan, Minhaj ul-Quran International remained largely unknown in the UK until relatively recently.

It now has 10 mosques in the British cities with significant Muslim communities and says it is targeting younger generations it believes have been let down by traditional leaders.

The organisation is attracting the attention of policymakers and security chiefs who are continuing to look for allies in the fight against extremists.

The Department for Communities, which runs most of the government's "Preventing Violent Extremism" strategy, has tried building bridges with a variety of liberal-minded groups, but often found that they have limited actual influence at the grassroots.

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