Before its News : Eminent Pakistani Cleric Issues Fatwa Against Terrorism

Sun Mar 14 2010 08:31

This may be the fatwa the world has been waiting for. It was delivered, not in a mosque or a madrasah, nor in some dark corner of cyberspace, but in a wood-paneled hall opposite St. James' Park in London last week. Though issued just across the street from Britain's Foreign Office, its author, Shaikh Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, stressed that neither he nor Minhaj ul-Quran, his Pakistan-based organization, was supported in any way by any government. His voice and finger often rising sternly, the sheik delivered a far-reaching diatribe against terrorists and what he described as their wrongheaded concept of jihad. His fatwa: Terrorism is at all times, in all conditions, against Islam. The murders terrorists commit will send them, not to paradise, as often claimed, but to hell. "[Terrorists] are the heroes of hellfire," he thundered. Their actions are not just unlawful but render terroristskufr, or disbelievers, casting them outside the Islamic faith.

Thousands of clerics have spoken out against terror since 9/11, but Qadri, a highly respected, Pakistan-born scholar with hundreds of books to his name and millions of followers everywhere from Syria to Fiji, has issued a fatwa that just might have traction. Quilliam, the U.K.-based antiextremist think tank, declared it a "highly significant step towards eradicating Islamist terrorism." The following day, as TIME was wrapping up an interview with Qadri, President Hamid Karzai's office was on the phone from Kabul, asking for the rights to translate the fatwa into Dari and Pushtu.

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