Rita Rosenfeld : "Terrorism is Terrorism, Violence Is Violence"
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 03, 2010
Congratulations are in order that yet another fatwa has been issued by yet another Islamic cleric.
This is beyond doubt a sincere effort on the part of Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri to attempt to influence Muslim youth that violence is not a particularly civil preoccupation, despite its many enticing qualities appealing to the young, the restless and the adventurous. That Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri is extremely well respected in Sufi circles, the author of some 360 publications to the faithful, is all to the good.
All the better that his fatwa against violent jihad is unequivocal. Among those Muslims who practise the Sufi brand of Islam, his word will without doubt have resonance. But Islam is a strange religion; those who cling to the two main streams, Shi'a and Sunni, don't have much truck with one another; each views the other with something akin to disgust, each claiming the other to be apostate in outlook and practise.
"This is the first, most comprehensive fatwa on the subject of terrorism ever written", claims Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri, and he is doubtless quite correct. So then, it can be relied upon that his followers will attend to his words of wisdom and do their utmost to follow them. Let's be practical, however, Sufi followers do not tend to begin with, to be of a violent persuasion.
Sufi Islam is a mystical form of religious worship, submerging the self into a surrender to the Almighty. It took its cue from other religions, like Judaism with its own mystical Kabbala. Sufis see theirs as a pacific, spiritual path, they shy away from politics, violence or self-aggrandizement. In other words, the good Dr. ul-Qadri is really preaching to the converted.
Despite which his efforts, given his large following, his spiritual influence and his great goodness of mission, represent another stride toward enlightenment in Islam's perception of its relationship with the West. He does, unequivocally, devote his life to promoting a message of harmony between peoples. As did indeed the Prophet Mohammad, said to have been the first Sufi practitioner.
Yet a mere few decades after Mohammad's death, his immediate successor was murdered by rivals, and then followed a long history of rivalry, bitterness, hatred and one assassination following another, replete with stark divisions of perceived legitimacy in representation of the Prophet's vision of Islam.
"Those who are already hardliners will pay no attention at all. but 'swing voters' - poorly educated and angry Muslims, who respect mainstream scholars, will probably take note" is the semi-comforting opinion of a lecturer in Islamic studies at Cambridge Universities, acclaiming the unprecedented extent of Dr. ul-Qadri's fatwa.
Who could possibly find argument with that message: "The reality is that whatever these terrorists are doing it is not martyrdom. All these activities are taking them to hellfire". He himself is confident that his message will be meaningful on a larger scale than merely within his own community.
One can only hope the good brave scholar that he is, enjoys a long and healthy life.