Thursday, July 21, 2005

British Muslims issue fatwa against suicide bombers - does it apply to Palestinians?

There have been a few articles lately about a very strong fatwa condemning suicide bombing and terror written by a group of British religious Muslim leaders. Here is the relevant text:

On behalf of over 500 clerics, scholars and Imams the British Muslim Forum issues the following religious decree:

Islam strictly, strongly and severely condemns the use of violence and the destruction of innocent lives.

There is neither place nor justification in Islam for extremism, fanaticism or terrorism. Suicide bombings, which killed and injured innocent people in London, are haram - vehemently prohibited in Islam, and those who committed these barbaric acts in London are criminals not martyrs.

Such acts, as perpetrated in London, are crimes against all of humanity and contrary to the teachings of Islam.

The Holy Koran declares:

"Whoever kills a human being, then it is as though he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a human life, it is as though he had saved all mankind." (Koran, Surah al-Maidah (5), verse 32).

Islam teaches us to be caring towards all of Allah's (God's) creation, not just mankind. The Prophet of Islam who was described as "a mercy to the worlds" said: "All creation is the family of Allah and that person is most beloved to Allah who is kind and caring towards His family."

Islam's position is clear and unequivocal: murder of one soul is the murder of the whole of humanity; he who shows no respect for human life is an enemy of humanity.

We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism in the world.

We pray for peace, security and harmony to triumph in multicultural Great Britain.

On first glance, it looks like this may include condemnation of Palestinian terror attacks against Jews as well. But Islam is a legal based system, and systems of law often have loopholes.

Here is one possible loophole, from a fatwa on IslamOnline.net:
We'd like to address a point; all scholars agreed that what the Palestinians carry out in showing resistance against their enemies is not a suicide bombing; rather, it's to be called martyr operation.

As regards your question, the late Azharite scholar and the head of the Sunni Egyptian Institutions in Egypt, Sheikh Fu'ad Mukhaymar, states the following:

"The view adopted by the majority of our contemporary Muslim scholars, describing as martyrs the Palestinians who blow themselves up in the occupied land in showing resistance against the aggression, is correct for the following reasons:

A person who blows himself up sacrifices his life for the survival of others. He dies for his homeland and his holy sites.

Those disarmed people are annihilated every day. Their houses and factories are destroyed and their farms are devastated. They stand with their hands tied before the tanks and armored vehicles of their enemies. The least they can offer is this sacrifice. A person who does this operation is considered by Ulama as a martyr especially as he sacrifices his life, not for a material gain, but for the sake of Allah.

The Palestinians lack the military support of the whole world. In this case, do they have to wait their doom or try their best to defend themselves?

The instances cited by scholars, in supporting their arguments, are also correct. History is full of many fascinating examples in which Muslims demonstrated an outstanding courage and strong spirit in fighting their enemies; they would sacrifice their lives for the sake of achieving their aim.

As regards the questioner’s reference to the narration that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) disapproved the act of a fighter who killed himself, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did this when he knew that the man killed himself out of despair and discontent. But on the issue at hand, a Palestinian knows well what he does and chooses it with his free will. It’s for this great sacrifice that he deserves martyrdom.
It may not be fair to compare fatwas issued by two different groups. But since the entire Arab and Muslim world is so overwhelmingly supportive of Palestinian terror, it is reasonable to ask: does the British fatwa apply to Palestinians or are they considered martyrs when they blow up Jewish woman and children? An unequivocal, explicit condemnation of Palestinian terror would speak volumes, and conversely, the refusal of the British Muslim leaders to specifically address that issue would cast severe doubts over the relevance of this fatwa to the West.

For example, last Friday the leader of the most holy mosque in Mecca, Al-Sudayyis, said that the "enemy" is engaged in "moral terrorism against the values, ideals, and virtues of the Islamic nation" - referring here to pornography and loose moral standards. Is it unreasonable for a Muslim to interpret this as a call to war against the West, to defend the honor of Islam? If the Western world is explicitly called the "enemy" does that not mean that killing, say, a woman who is not covered with a hijab may be considered a required act?

The original British fatwa seems solid at first glance. But without a definition of "extremism, fanaticism and terrorism," it may only be empty words, especially since the Muslim world's definition of terror has never included attacks against Jews in israel.