Twf News : How Does Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri's Anti-terror Fatwa Define Terrorism?

March 3, 2010

Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, founder of "Minhaj-ul-Quran International, has issued a 600-page fatwa that bans suicide bombing "without any excuses, any pretexts, or exceptions."

Several years ago, we raised a number of issues regarding suicide bombing, and other fatwas on terrorism.

The first question any fatwa on terrorism must address is how does one define terrorism?

In 2005, then UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, recognized this need, and called for a

universally accepted definition of terrorism, he endorsed the wording contained in the recent report from the UN High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, . . . The panel defined terrorism as any action intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organisation to do, or abstain from, any act.

Five years later, there's still no generally accepted definition of terrorism -- presumably because it would include acts that major powers now commit with impunity.

Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, defines terrorism as the "use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy".

Given this definition of terrorism, together with the definition of "power politics" and "realpolitik", leads to the conclusion that frequently realpolitik equals, power politics, equals terrorism.

We did not find a definition in Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri's English language summary.

Neither "suicide" nor "terrorism" are mentioned in highly regarded, English language translations of the Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (an Indian Muslim), Muhammad Asad (born Leopold Weiss, a Jew, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire), and Marmaduke Pickthall (a British Christian who converted -- Muslims say reverted -- to Islam).

To paraphrase Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri -- "without any excuses, any pretexts, or exceptions" -- killing civilians is wrong.

However, like previous fatwas, this new "fatwa against terrorism" leaves the most important question -- what is the definition of terrorism? -- unanswered.

Until there's a "universally accepted definition of terrorism", fatwas by Muslim leaders will, at best, have limited impact.

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