Sunday, July 24, 2005

Al-Qaradawi’s condemnation of London and Sharm El-Sheikh terrorist acts

Contrary to what people like T. Friedman try to convey, mainstream Muslim scholars or leaders did condemn terrorist attacks like 9-11. Following last attacks in London and more recently in Sharm El-Sheikh, many new condemnations have been issued. Chief among them is the recent one by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. What is striking in this new “fatwa”, in my view, is its comprehensiveness, and the place it gives to details by answering some ambiguous questions. The main points raised by Al-Qaradawi here, are:

1. Total condemnation of terrorists acts all over the world like those having taken place recently in London, Turkey, and Sharm El-Sheikh.
2. Stressing that Islam prohibits the killing of people, except those in the fighting, which is restricted to face to face confrontation between the Muslims and the aggressors.
3. Explaining that not only Islam but "All divine religions in general and Islam in particular assert the sanctity of human life and strongly prohibit aggression against it". And that "all divine religions clearly state the blood of all human beings is sacred and unlawful to shed unless the human being himself committed a criminal act or caused corruption in the land or transgressed against the lives of others".
4. Warning that "Such heinous sin and abominable crime lead to Allah’s curse in this world and His severe punishment in the Hereafter." And that "Shari`ah has nothing to do with the acts of those few deviated people who follow its teachings but change them from their proper contexts. They claim to punish people because of injustices done by their rulers."
5. Stating that "Islam considers the act of issuing an entrance visa to a tourist to be a pledge of security given to this tourist, and hence it categorically prohibits transgressing the security given to tourist". The same applies to anybody who enters Islamic territories trough state authorities or any recognized body such as travel agencies.
6. And finally, saying that "the condemnation of such bombings and devastating acts doesn't mean a justification of the injustices and tragedies against Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries". And that "It is not permissible to take the occurrence of such injustices as a pretext to perpetrate criminal acts."

Let’s see now what the implications of every point above are:

1. Such a condemnation at least makes life difficult to opportunists who try to conceal anything positive, that is taken place in the Muslim world, in order to nurture and perpetuate misunderstanding between the west and Islam.
2. The value of this point lies in its technical aspect, since it explicitly shows the situation in which fighting is permitted, which according to Al-Qaradawi, is only possible in case of direct confrontation. Such a stance rules out, not only terrorism and killing of civilians like those of London or Sharm El-Sheikh, but also killing anybody who is not taking part in battles or wars like most of the hostages in Iraq. It includes also, in my view, the killing of civilians, lawmakers, police, etc in Iraq for instance and dismisses Zarkaoui’s ideas as heretical.
3. This point is also very important. If mainstream Muslims get to know that all religions, not only Islam, condemn the killing of innocent lives, they should, in the same way they ask others to distinguish between Islam and Extremists acting in the name Islam, understand that Christianity or Judaism are not the driving forces behind some aggressions on the Muslim world. Therefore, we should continue promoting dialogue between religions for a better future for all of us.
4. This is one of the most efficient ways of fighting terrorism rhetoric and weapon: promising martyrdom and paradise to frustrated and hopeless people and would-be terrorists. The strong warning of Al-Qaradawi that such acts rather lead to God’s curse and punishment, is a means of fighting Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers on their own ground and can make these people question their beliefs and hopefully return to the “straight path”.
5. The technical aspect here is also most welcome. It gives explicit answer and leaves no ambiguity as far as dealing with tourists and any foreigner that enters Islamic territories with no intention to fight is concerned. I guess this was a hint from Al-Qaradawi to Sharm El-Sheikh massacre, but it applies to everywhere.
6. Any scholar that wants to avoid alienation from muslim masses and be heard must not forget to recall that all these condemnations do not condone at all injustices against Muslims in some parts of the world such as Palestine or Iraq. Failing to do so is a warranty that his condemnations will be rejected from mainstream people and dismissed as apologetical of the "west".

To conclude, I would say this is a good attitude that should be spread and extensively followed by all scholars, each dwelling on some details that close the door to wrong interpretations for which innocents pay the price. What is interesting also is that many points raised are not only mere and passive condemnations of terrorism, but provide offensive arguments to counter terrorism doctrine and rhetoric. One must be aware, however, that this should be complemented by other strategies that should be undertaken if we want to defeat terrorism. Apart from these kinds of fatwas, debate should be encouraged and should take place more frequently on the issue of terrorism and conflicts. It should gather scholars and non-scholars of antagonist views if we want to avoid the current somewhat deaf dialogue. Strong emphasis should be put on promoting ethics and justice whatever the ethnicity and the background of the protagonists or aggressors, Muslims or not Muslims, Arabs or not Arabs; only ethics and justice should prevail. The “west”, needless to say, should also play its part by isolating the “clash of civilizations” proponents and seeking genuine and fair solutions to conflicts in Palestine, Iraq and other parts of the world. Only then, we may dream of getting rid of the roots of terrorism.


Jessie Speer said...

Very nice post, in response to an excellent fatwa. This is the message that needs to get out to people all over the 'west' as well as all over the Muslim world.

Terrorism is unique in that it comes out of the people, not the government, it is spread across the world, and is unpredictable. You cannot wage war with it, but can only work to solve its underlying causes (opression, inequality). I think it needs to be looked at as a social phenomenon, and treated as one. Open dialogue, not war, is the only way to fight terrorism.

Keep posting, it's an important topic.

Jallal said...

Hi Jessie,

Good to have you here. Hope to see you more often!

The key, as you said, is to understand that terrorism is a social phenomenon, that we cannot come to terms with by waging wars. Fighting terrorism won’t be successful unless the protagonists on all sides do their jobs. As a famous writer once put it, “anyway, we have tow choices: either we work for peace or we work for war”. The fact is, on both sides there are warmongers that do anything they can to perpetuate the current chaos on one hand, and the pacifists that try to bring people back to their senses. And the battle, because it is a battle, is a fierce one.