Cool Sounding Name : Fatwa Against Suicide Bombing and Terrorism
The actual Fatwa (religious ruling) by Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, a Sufi scholar from the UK, contains some 600 pages condemning terrorism and suicide bombing. I am skeptical of the impact this will have (if any), and question the reasoning behind trying to fight (hell)fire with (hell)fire.
Now, I feel that I’ll be treading on thin ice here… Because that terrorism and suicide bombing is morally reprehensible is something that no one can argue. And indeed I’m not going to, but while I’m not arguing for terrorism, I’ll be arguing against someone who is opposed to terrorism and suicide bombing. To be very clear and upfront about the content of the rest of this article I will briefly say that I am only arguing against the method of using a religious Fatwa to combat these reprehensible actions of the faithful.
But enough of the tiptoeing. Think back to your youth. Do you remember when the teacher would leave the room, leaving the teacher’s pet in charge? How effective was that authority? That’s how effective this Fatwa is likely to be. Argh.
They’ve been doing this stuff for awhile (decreeing, decrying, de…well, I can’t think of another D word. But you get the idea.). It’s not like this is the first time anyone has objected to terrorism. Nor even the first time there’s been a Fatwa against it. My curiosity is piqued by the fact that Muhammad Tahir ul-Quadri is a scholar of Sufism, however… Remembering that it was once a sufi who reformed Islam into the fundamentalist machine it is now. (That Sufi being Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali, who effectively began the end of the Golden Age of Islam by leading the Islamic world away from the “Un-Islamic” teachings of Aristotle, and Plato, among others.)
So who knows, maybe this will trigger a sweeping change across the global Islamic community.
But I doubt it.
The Fatwa talks about what Islam is and isn’t. About this, he is flat out wrong. It can’t be said enough: His Islam may very well be as he describes in the Fatwa. But I’m afraid there are terrorists and nasty people going bump in the night, who are Islamic, and who are practicing Islam correctly. As correctly as Muhammad Tahir ul-Quadri is practicing his Islam.
How do I know? Because all forms of Islam are equally correct. Religion is not based on anything measurable in the “real” world, which unfortunately means that there is no way to tell if someone is or isn’t practicing their religion correctly without intervention from outside the “greater than real” world, in the form of Allah. He even said so himself. (42:10)
There is just no way to judge the “correctness” of a religion (Otherwise surely everyone in the world would have converted to the right one by now.), so issuing statements about what is or isn’t correct in religion doesn’t carry a lot of weight unless you’re preaching to the choir, reinforcing the already held beliefs of like-minded people. Imagine the effect a decree from the Pope would have on the Protestant majority. I’m afraid that in this regard, the terrorist community (while by name and number still identified as Islamic), are at least as different from the Islam of Dr. Qadri and other moderates as Protestants are from Catholics.
There is just no way to stop people from drawing (indisputably correct) justifications for whatever they want out of a book that starts with the premise “Everything I say is true” and then goes on to make a million different statements, and conflicting statements about the same things. It’s like the riddle in which one guard always tells the truth, and the other guard always tells a lie. Except that the Qu’ran is both guards at the same time.
The Qu’ran abrogation gimmick doesn’t help you find moral footing either, because the nice bits in the Qu’ran, verses like: “The man who kills another man is a dick, because killing one man is like killing all mankind” Qu’ran 5:32. (Ed: I paraphrased.) are followed by other verses that say: “He who rejects Allah will be killed, crucified, his hands and feet will be cut off, he will be thrown from his home and spend eternity in Hell”. Qu’ran 5:33
And when read in context and as a whole, instead of quote mining and plucking the nice pieces out of verses, the Qu’ran does seem to imply that it’s only Muslims you’re supposed to be visiting all this charity on. And of course, as everyone who knows me is well aware by now, it is my opinion that in the context of the Qu’ran this behavior is because Islam is “right”, And the people who aren’t following it are “wrong”.
This is a much bigger concept that most people understand. This means not only is it the nonbelievers’ “fault” that they are following the “wrong” religion, but that they are at fault for it. (5:45 – wait, why am I quoting verses to support this? I’ll be here all day!)
Their fault is considered an action by which they bring their own punishment upon themselves (45:7-8, 45:31, a couple examples out of many). It provides part of the moral backing in punishing non-believers throughout the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran explicitly states these things, it also tells that Allah has clouded the minds of nonbelievers such that they CAN’T ever be moved to the truth of submission to Allah (See footnote #1), and nonbelievers are a threat to Islam by virtue of merely existing (See footnote #2), to say nothing of the hundreds upon hundreds of verses describing the evil of nonbelievers, and the fiery dooms and punishments they will receive, and that as a threat they can be fought with the support of Allah. (Which I need not support through verse – if you open a Qu’ran to any chapter the chances are good you’ll find something that can morally support fighting the nonbelievers.)
That’s what really gets me, the… “truce” of Islam. Moderates who modify their religion to fit the modern world annoy me, but those who continue to believe all the fundamental aspects of a religion (and this applies to every faith, but Islam in particular) and have this… air about them, as if they would say: “Yes, I believe in the righteousness of Allah and that in his glory all the nonbelievers will be hunted and killed to please him, and I believe that all the intolerance is morally justified and that you and your life and your family are living a sinful lie… But lets call a truce for now. I need to go to work, go to the store, have friends, do business, and these beliefs make it difficult to get along with other people sometimes. So a truce, for the period of my lifetime, so that I can get along better. Oh, but I still believe all of this stuff! The rules are just…suspended for awhile.”.
Which I’m sad to say is how a lot of people behave. (See 58:22, 86:17 for interesting parallels)
The Qu’ran was written by people with no special knowledge. They may have been smart and talented and very special people, but they wrote for the time and place in which they lived, and we shouldn’t be treating what they wrote as infallible authority on the unchanging nature of life.
Furthermore I get the feeling that parts of the Qu’ran are simply laundry lists of subjective judgments and rulings, with some implied idea of specific situations in which to use them. The danger, like any scripture believed to be infallible, is in the implications.
But I digress…
What good is a religious Fatwa against terrorism? Well, I suppose it will reinforce the beliefs of those who already agree with it. Beyond that… the only thing you could hope for is indoctrination. That this Fatwa would be forcibly taught to children, like religion so often is, in the hopes that they would grow up believing what you want them to believe. The goal makes sense in some way, but I just…can’t wrap my head around the means by which the religious want to get there. Going through the Qu’ran and highlighting all the parts that are friendly and agreeable to our morals does not remove the disagreeable parts from the body of the verse. To believe the cure for “bad” religion is more religion is to make a ludicrous example of fighting fire with fire.