Hope Lens : A welcome fatwa
March 8, 2010
In London last Tuesday a leading Muslim scholar issued a new fatwa.
We, in the non-Muslim west, have grown used to hearing of fatwas, usually characterized as calls for terror and violence and issued under questionable authority. By no means anyone or everyone has the authority to issue a fatwa. It requires legitimate institutional authority; the one issuing the fatwa has to be a scholar of renown and beyond dispute.
Last week’s fatwa received no press coverage in the USA that I am aware of. But, it is remarkable and joins the recent rejection of terror as a legitimate method of pursuing goals by the Islamic Brotherhood of North Africa. The fatwa says “what westerners want to hear” and it is sad it has not been more widely covered.
A leading Islamic scholar has issued a fatwa in Britain condemning “terrorists” as the enemies of Islam, in a bid to deter young Muslims from extremism.
Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, head of the Minhaj ul-Quran religious and educational organisation, said suicide bombers were destined for hell as he released his 600-page edict in London on Tuesday….
“There is no place for any martyrdom and their act is never, ever to be considered Jihad,” he said.
At a news conference, ul-Qadri said Islam was a religion of peace that promotes beauty, “betterment”, goodness and “negates all form of mischief and strife”.
“Terrorism is terrorism, violence is violence and it has no place in Islamic teaching and no justification can be provided for it, or any kind of excuses or ifs or buts,” he said.
A fatwa, of course, however welcome its content, is mere words. They can, and very probably will, be ignored. An extremist determined to kill and/or die will pay no heed. But words articulate thoughts which in turn echo convictions and, in the case of a fatwa, the convictions of a community.
More than that, this fatwa probes the Christian conscience. In a real sense western armed forces in Afghanistan are not “Christian” as such. Yet in another sense they are by default, to a very great extent. What then should the “Christian fatwa” be? Identical to the foreign and military policy statements of NATO and the USA? Is the Christian conscience inextricably linked to “nation building,” the “representative democratic movement”, and with such secular objectives, however admirable?
The recent London fatwa rejects terror methods as well as affirms ideals of “betterment and peace.” What balance could/should a Christian fatwa strike? What would it reject and what affirm?