His followers are mostly in southern Asia and the UK, and is a very welcome move. It will be interesting to see if there is any scholarly reaction from other, more extremist Muslim scholars.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority continues to glorify suicide bombers. Palestinian Media Watch recently found a fairly disgusting representative sample:
Palestinian Authority TV news recently chose to feature a Palestinian mother promoting her son's death as a positive goal.I wrote to the organization that monitors PA (as well as Israeli) textbooks to ask them if indeed this textbook is in current use and says these things, as I couldn't find it in any of their reports. They just replied and confirmed that the schoolbook is still being used, and pointed me to the report that mentioned it. Here is the larger context of what the moderate PA is teaching its schoolchildren today:
Upon learning of her son's death in an Israeli air strike, the mother explained that she had always hoped for her son's Shahada - death as a Martyr -- and recommended that other mothers likewise "sacrifice their child for Palestine."
The words of another woman, chosen by PA TV news for the pre-recorded news report, described how Palestinian society sees Martyrs as grooms. This is based on the Islamic tradition, promoted actively by the PA and Hamas, that Martyrs will marry 72 virgins in Paradise.
PA TV news report:
Mother upon news of son's death in an Israeli air strike: "We had always hoped for his [my son's] Martyrdom (Shahada), knowing he wanted to die as a Martyr (Shahid). Every time he went out, we would say to him, 'May Allah be with you.' We knew that he wanted to die as a Martyr. Praise to Allah, he sought Martyrdom, and he achieved it. My message to every mother is to sacrifice her child for Palestine."
Second woman: "By Allah, we welcome every Martyr as if he were a groom among us."[PA TV (Fatah), Feb. 11, 2010]
Palestinian Media Watch has documented that these two ideas -- that death is a higher value than life and that Martyrdom death leads to a wedding between the Martyr and the virgins of Paradise -- have been promoted actively by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for years.
Palestinian schoolbooks teach children that aspiring to death is better than life:[Reading and Texts Part II, Grade 8, p. 16. Schoolbook currently in use in PA schools.]
"O heroes, Allah has promised you victory ... Do not talk yourselves into flight...
Your enemies seek life while you seek death."
They seek spoils to fill their empty stomachs while you seek a Garden [Paradise] as wide as are the heavens and the earth...
Death is not bitter in the mouth of the believers. These drops of blood that gush from your bodies will be transformed tomorrow into blazing red meteors that will fall down upon the heads of your enemies."
There are dozens of other examples of texts that glorify terror, jihad and martyrdom.
Read and Enjoy: [Excerpts] from the “Heroes Oration” by Mustafa Lutfi al-Manfaluti:
O heroes. God has promised you victory and you have promised him patience. Keep your promise and He will keep His promise. Do not talk yourselves into flight…
Your enemies seek life and you seek death. They seek spoils to feed their empty stomachs and you seek a garden the width of which is both Heaven and earth [i.e., Paradise]. Do not be sad to encounter them, for [the taste of] death is not bitter in the believers’ mouth.
These drops of blood that flow from your bodies will be transformed into red fiery shooting stars that will come down upon the heads of your enemies.
(Reading and Texts, Grade 8, Part 2 (2002) p. 16)
“You probably know what a great reward God has prepared for the Muslims who fight the infidels.”
(Language exercise, Reading and Texts, Grade 8, Part 2 (2002) p. 15)
The Jihad Fighter’s Intention
The Jihad fighter should intend to support God’s religion and work for exalting His word, not [for obtaining] booty or fame. Jihad has not been enacted in Islam for the purpose of taking possession of other nations’ wealth, or for the purpose of forcing people to embrace Islam. The Muslims do not fight out of desire for fighting, or out of love of bloodshed, nor for the sake of national or tribal solidarity. Rather, Jihad has been enacted in Islam for the sake of exalted purposes such as:
1. Saving the oppressed and the weak and opposing tyrants and oppressors who make the people taste [all] forms of suffering and seize control over them.
2. Creating the proper climate for the worship of God. [That is to be done] by opposing the oppressive forces that entice the people away from their religion.
3. [Making] the Muslim nation strong and dreaded, [so that it will] not be harmed by the greedy and the malicious.
I will write a paragraph comparing the goals of Jihad in Islam and the objects of war among other nations.
(Islamic Education, Grade 8, Part 2 (2002) pp. 32-33)
The only counterexample that Impact-SE found that seemed to be against Jihad and martyrdom was this single case:
It is nice for a man to die for his homeland but it is nicer for him to live for his homeland.This is the reality - the official PA policy, in its media and its schoolbooks, is to raise generations of children to love war and terror - nearly two decades after the PLO supposedly rejected terrorism at Oslo.
(Linguistic Sciences, Grade 8, Part 2 (2002) p. 89)