The First Post.co.uk : UK Muslims will take fatwa against terrorism seriously
BY JONATHAN HARWOOD
LAST UPDATED 6:08 PM, MARCH 2, 2010
The fatwa against Islamic terrorists issued by a London-based Muslim organisation on Tuesday has been hailed as a significant step forward in the fight against fundamentalism, and one that will have repercussions in the UK and beyond.
The 600-page edict from Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, founder of the influential Sufi movement Minhaj-ul-Quran, mounts a "direct challenge to al-Qaeda's violent ideology" and declares "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 and that they become the heroes of the Muslim Umma [community], no, they become heroes of hellfire, and they are heading towards hellfire," he said.
Pakistan-born ul-Qadri, a former associate of Benazir Bhutto, proclaimed the fatwa at a news conference in London, where his popular Minhaj-ul-Quran organisation is based.
He says his edict, which is aimed at persuading young Muslims to turn their backs on extremism, goes further than any previous denunciation. "This is the first, most comprehensive fatwa on the subject of terrorism ever written," said ul-Qadri, who has authored more than 350 books on Islamic scholarship.
His Minhaj-ul-Quran organisation is growing in popularity and advises the Government on how to combat radicalisation among Muslim youth. It has followers around the globe and is said to be particularly popular among the Pakistani diaspora.
The bulk of Britain's Muslims have connections to Pakistan and nearly all major terrorism plots since 2001, including the 2005 London bombings which killed 52 people, have a Pakistani connection.
Communities Minister Shahid Malik, whose Dewsbury constituency was home to the 7/7 bomber Mohammad Siddique Khan, said: "It is incumbent on Muslims to stand up for their faith – when 7/7 occurred those four evil young men killed themselves and over 50 innocent people because they followed a twisted and perverted interpretation of Islam which told them by doing so they would go to heaven."
A spokesman for the counter-extremist think tank Quilliam said: "This fatwa has the potential to be a highly significant step towards eradicating Islamist terrorism.
"Groups such as al-Qaeda continue to justify their mass killings with self-serving readings of religious scripture. Fatwas that demolish and expose such theological innovations will consign Islamist terrorism to the dustbin of history."
Tim Winter, an Islamic studies lecturer at Cambridge University told Sky News: "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."
Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion also described it as "significant" saying it removed "any religious justification for attacks".
"His ruling has the possibility of being respected by a far wider range of people than any of those individual non-scholarly Muslim voices who have also condemned terrorism without caveat," he added.