Schott : Fatwa Flashing

March 16, 2010, 12:30 PM

The issuing and counter-issuing of conflicting fatwas – Islamic religious rulings.

The Islamic scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri traveled to London in early March to issue a fatwa against terrorism, Dominic Casciani reported for the BBC:

His fatwa makes detailed observations of the principles of a just war and rules of engagement. And he goes further than some scholars in stating that bombers who use an ideology to justify their actions have turned away from their faith.

His arrival in the UK was a quite deliberate attempt to shake things up. The youth, he says, need more help to counter the brainwashers. But in saying so, the fatwa became political.

According to Casciani, the response to Dr Qadri’s fatwa has been mixed. Maajid Nawaz, the co-director of a British counter-extremism think tank said:

“If someone is going to be a suicide bomber, they have to be 100% convinced that they are going to heaven. … If you can put just 1% of doubt in their minds, then you could stop them. And you do that that by presenting them with detailed evidences from Islam itself. This fatwa helps.”

But, Casciani explained, “that’s not an argument that washes with everyone”:

Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian academic based in London, infamously became a tabloid hate figure by supporting suicide bombing in Israel because it was the only means of self-defence available. He is less well known for the critical role he played in helping the police bring down the now-jailed preacher Abu Hamza.

“People who resort to these bombings do it because they believe it is justified, that it is commendable and rewardable,” he says. “Otherwise they would not do it. For every fatwa there is a counter fatwa.”

Amid all this fatwa flashing, many Muslims fear divide and rule – and suspect that someone, somewhere will use Dr Tahir ul-Qadri to further that agenda.

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