Belief net : Muslim Scholar Issues

Thursday March 4, 2010

London (dpa) - An influential Muslim scholar with a large following in Britain Tuesday issued a fatwa - or Islamic religious ruling - which condemned global terrorism and branded suicide bombers as the "heroes of hellfire."

The proclamation by Pakistan-born Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, the founder of the global Minhaj-ul-Quran movement, was immediately welcomed by government leaders and followed closely by security organizations, parliamentarians and Muslim groups.

Qadri told a news conference in London that the fatwa should be seen as a "direct challenge to al-Qaeda's violent ideology" which had no justification in the name of Islam.

"Terrorism is terrorism, violence is violence and it has no place in Islamic teaching and no justification can be provided for it, or any kind of excuses or ifs or buts," said Qadri.

The 600-page fatwa says that "suicide bombings and attacks against civilian targets are not only condemned by Islam, but render the perpetrators totally out of the fold of Islam, in other words, to be unbelievers."

"They can't claim that their suicide bombings are martyrdom operations ... they become heroes of hellfire, and they are leading towards hellfire," he said.

Qadri described the al-Qaeda network as an "old evil with a new name" and said he believed that the overwhelming majority of young Muslims in Britain had not yet been radicalized and would "think again" on reading his proclamation.

Those who had already been "totally brainwashed" would not listen, said Qadri, but others would have "doubt" planted in their minds.

"You don't become a terrorist overnight. It is a journey ... Many are already on that road but they have not yet arrived to become suicide bombers," Qadri told journalists.

He developed the document, which challenges the religious motivation of suicide bombers, in response to the rise in suicide bombings in Pakistan, where Qadri has a large following.

His organization currently has 10 mosques in British cities with large Muslim communities and it hopes to target the younger generation who feel "let down by traditional leaders," said Qadri.

Members of parliament, security chiefs and Muslim representatives were present at the proclamation.

Qadri said he hoped his arguments would attract the attention of politicians and security services in western nations.

Britain's Communities Minister, Shahid Malik, welcomed the fatwa as a "crucial message to Muslims and non-Muslims alike" because it made clear that martyrs were "not going to heaven but somewhere very different indeed."

Fellow-Islamic scholar Shaikh Mohammed Hisham Kabbani, of the Centre for Spirituality and Cultural Advancement, said the fatwa would help British Muslims to "counter the radical Islamist rhetoric in the world."

"This scholarship is a landmark in enabling Muslims living in the UK to be able to silence the small minority of people who think it is OK to commit violent acts in the name of Islam," he said.

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