A fatwa against terrorism that might work

Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri’s fatwa against terrorism might actually have an impact. It is comprehensive, direct, and does not dodge any … Continued

Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri’s fatwa against terrorism might actually have an impact. It is comprehensive, direct, and does not dodge any issue. It has come at a time when there is very strong abhorrence for terrorism, specially in Pakistan, and it will strip terrorists of what little legitimacy they might be still enjoying in the eyes of Muslims who fear that Islam is under attack by Western powers.

Dr. Qadri is a prominent mega-Imam who enjoys a large popular following. He also happens to be well ensconced in the traditional Islamic heritage. His is clearly a loud voice of the hitherto silent majority. Those who are engaged in extremist violence and those who sympathize with them belong to a more recent salafi trend. This trend is a recent transplant in South Asia and fortunately does not have deep roots in the region. Dr. Qadri and his large following constitute the mainstream of Muslims in Pakistan and in the Pakistani diaspora. In principle they should be able to prevail easily over the extremist voices now causing such turmoil in that land.

Dr. Qadri’s 600-pages fatwa is essentially an encyclopedic compilation of the fiqh of the use of force. It basically accumulates all the various jurisprudential positions advanced by Muslim scholars and jurists of different schools and provides a comprehensive overview of the various normative and ethical limitations that derivatives from Islamic sources have placed on the legitimate use of force.

There is nothing new in Dr. Qadri’s tome and that is a good thing. He is not advancing new interpretations of Islamic sources, nor is he trying to reinvent the wheel. His contribution is to show that not only does Islam prohibit terrorism, it condemns the terrorist to hell. He also shows how Muslims have long held suicide as a forbidden act. Islam has always done this from the beginning. The collection of the various opinions of classical scholars too demonstrates the extent and depth of Islam’s prohibition of the use of force against civilians, against women, and against children.

The extremists and their sympathetic scholars, I am confident, will not be able to produce a document that could trump Dr. Qadri’s Fatwa. The extremist scholars in the Muslim world have relied basically on two elements to advance their radical agenda. One, they have exploited the widespread theological illiteracy of Muslims to advance out of context and unprecedented new interpretations and justifications for the principle of Jihad to legitimize their crusade against the West and its allies. Two, they have benefited from the anger that Muslims have been feeling against the various military attacks and occupations by Western armies of Muslim lands in the past two centuries. Add to this the endless suffering of the Palestinians, Iraqis, Afpak civilians at the hands of Western forces and you begin to comprehend why so many of the Muslim youth embraced the un-Islamic interpretations of Islamic sources by radicals clerics.

Is Dr. Qadri’s Fatwa a magic bullet that will erode all anger, frustration and resentment; certainly not. Will it engender a widespread loathing for the use of terrorism as a tactics, most certainly yes, if it is given sustained attention by the media. In Pakistan, Dr. Qadri’s reputation, the growing anger against terrorists for their indiscriminate violence against mosques and against Muslims, will all combine to give the fatwa a chance to marginalize the extremists. Hopefully their supporters will either rethink their politics or at least abstain from openly and actively supporting the culture of violence.

The author and his institution also hope that the perception held by some in the West that Islam is the cause of terrorism will be corrected. I am however less sanguine about this. Those in the West who argue that moderate Muslims are not opposing terrorism or those who insist that terrorism is a consequence of Islamic values are motivated by political interests and are clearly Islamophobic. They will not change their mind. However those who are still unaware that most Muslims condemn terrorists and that there is nothing in Islam that supports terrorism may perhaps become enlightened as a result of this fatwa.

This fatwa is a good thing. It will advance the cause against terrorism.

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  • mikeghouse

    1. Fatwa may not be a deterrent to terrorism, but it begins a process of creating a norm of explicitly expressive disdain towards extremism. Dr. Qadri can fortify this fatwa with signatures from imams representing each of the major Muslim populations around the world. I am hosting a luncheon meeting at my home for 12 visiting Imams and heads of Waqfs from 12 Middle Eastern countries, and I hope to get them to endorse it as well, if I can get the text before March 24th.2. The traditional approach of slapping the bad guys with a religion has got to go, and when those criminal boys are arrested, keep the religion out, do not treat them as Muslims. They are bad boys and need to be treated as criminals. I hope the Muslim community cheers when these extremists are rounded up. They need to feel that, bad acts don’t get cheers, no houris and no respectful burial ground either. I hope he adds in the Fatwa that terrorist will not be given a space for burial in the common Muslim cemeteries. And if the religious law permits, throw them to the vultures. They need to feel used.3. No matter what you do, critics will be always be there and it should be. It keeps every one on their toes. Dr. Qadir needs to build a critical mass of a movement, enlist the Imams around the world, and let the Friday Sermons include that and hope the process will have its full effect within a decade.4. This however will not change the minds of hard core Neocon Jews, Neocon Christians, Neocon Hindus and Neocon Muslim from doing what they do best; frightening the crap out of the the constipated clientele (yes) and asking Money. But a majority of them see the change and work together in creating societies of co-existence.5. Thank you Dr. Qadri, just do it, but get at least 100 Signatures to your Fatwa, it will be more effective.6. May God bring a positive change with this Fatwa, Amen!Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. His work is reflected at three websites and 22 Blogs at

  • abhab1

    Khan asserts:It is irrelevant whether non-Muslims become enlightened or not enlightened about the Muslim jurisprudence. We are interested in results. When this madness stops and the so-called extremists decide to live in peace with the rest of humanity, then we will let historians and psychologists argue what brought about the change. Till then we are not interested in excuses and we have enough evidence of Taqqiyah in action.

  • mikeghouse

    This is indeed good Fatwa, and has a chance of making a difference. I have elaborated that in my earlier comment.The responsibility for peace and safety falls on each one of our shoulders. The responsibility for peace falls on both shoulders not just one.You push a bully to the corner; the bully knows that the opponent is a stronger bully and is going to win, one of the few choices, if at all, he has is to strike and do the most damage before he is knocked out. No one wants to be a terrorist for the heck of it, our attitudes and arrogance of power entrenches them, we the bigger bullies prevail, but with constant fear.The residue of unresolved justice lingers on like lava, simmering to erupt some day. Terrorism multiplies with counter terrorism. We the smart people do the dumb things.The dumbest thing we do is blame the religion; religion is an intangible item, you cannot kill it, you cannot hang it or you cannot jail it. Religion is an excuse to find refuge for bad acts, and you and I, like idiots fall for it and give them that excuse and real criminal remains at large. They are bad guys; they are Muslims, they are Hindus, they are Jews and they are Christians, their religion had nothing to do with their bad acts, they label it and we suckers buy it, how dumb. It is time to single out bad guys, go after Osama, go after individuals who have wronged and hang them high. Justice has a chance to be restored. Muslims are not terrorists, neither are others, think about it.Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. His work is reflected at three websites and 22 Blogs at

  • twforg

    Like previous fatwas, this new “fatwa against terrorism” leaves the most important question — what is the legally accepted definition of terrorism? — unanswered — In 2005, then UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, recognized this need, and called for a “universally accepted definition of terrorism, he endorsed the wording contained in the recent report from the UN High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, . . . The panel defined terrorism as any action intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organisation to do, or abstain from, any act.”Five years later, there’s still no generally accepted definition of terrorism — presumably because it would include acts that major powers now commit with impunity.Enver Masud

  • RaoTayi

    Is this Fatwa for real or done for western consumption? Did this Mr. Qadri just realize that terrorism is wrong? Is this fatwa only against western targets only or does it apply to the actions taken by teh bigots in Philippines, East Tim-or, Kashmir, etc. By the way what was his position on these for the past 20 or so years. These so called fatwas come out in dribs and drabs and generally have zero affect on the street. The clerics, hot heads and the so called respected have been stoking the flames for a long long time. They have been riding thes saber toothed tigers for a long time. I am not sold on this BS.

  • YEAL9

    Instead of a 600 page fatwa (which apparently has no power unless given by an ayatollah with goons to enforce it), Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadriis should have demanded a rewrite of the Koran where all passages dictating male Muslim control of women and the world are deleted. And by the way, why doesn’t Muqtedar Khan demand the same???

  • mikeghouse

    This Fatwa may not be an absolute deterrent to terrorism, but it begins a process of creating a norm of explicitly expressive disdain towards extremism. RAOTAYI – Muslims are sick of the extremists than you probably are, not only these few handful of goons make the lives difficult for all, they generate Necons to wage hate propoganda against Muslims. Muslims are the first ones to condemn evil men whether they are Muslims, or any one. Your assumption is dead wrong. No one likes terrorism and no one wants to be a terrorist, the society causes situations to give birth to those attitudes. Mike Ghouse

  • abhab1

    Ghoose advises Yeal 9:I read it in its original Arabic version and I come to the same conclusion as Yeal. I, furthermore, have yet to read an interpretation by a respected Muslim theologian who thinks differently about our understanding of the status of women in Islam.

  • Arif2

    Ghouse, why do you lie so much? Why is it so important for you to further the lies of a 1400 year old dead terrorist, a self proclaimed prophet mohammed bin abdullah? It is time you re read your koran. These fatwas are useless, they are men who are trying to give islam a new life in the west. Ten more imams in the protected west will come out with new fatwas but that will change nothing. Islam is inherently violent, a direct link to koran and their nabi.

  • ZZim

    Lol, Ghouse is so deceitful. In my mind, the problem with Islam is that everybody thinks they can turn to the half-remembered words of a back-alley charlatan from 1,400 years ago for guidance.That’s why Islamic countries remain backwards compared to the rest of the world, they don’t have a mechanism for rejecting outmoded ideas and developing a modern society.In order to succeed in a modern society, Muslims need to reject the medieval thought patterns of ancient desert tribesmen. But there the words are, written on paper. Ghouse can lie to us and pretend the words aren’t really saying what we can all see. But he’s wrong.Islam was invented with the purpose of giving Muhammad power and wealth. He succeeded in that. Then he died. let’s bury the man’s words with his corpse and forget the evil that he wrought upon the world.

  • iamweaver

    Arif2 writes:”Ten more imams in the protected west will come out with new fatwas but that will change nothing.”You do know that this country, “Pakistan”, in which Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri lives isn’t in the west, right?