New Moroccan fatwa outlaws terrorism

Morocco’s High Council of Ulema has issued a fatwa against terrorism following the Paris terror attacks. ISIS has also received much criticism from Islamic scholars and others within the Islamic world in recent days.
ISIS terrorists Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Following the Paris terror attacks, Morocco’s High Council of Ulema issued a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) against terrorism.  According to a report in MEMRI, the fatwa stressed that the jihad of the pen, the jihad of money, and the jihad of the mind should always take precedence over the jihad of the sword, while armed jihads should only be waged as a last resort when all peaceful avenues have been exhausted.  Even when an armed jihad is waged, the fatwa stressed that only an Islamic ruler can declare jihad, emphasizing that organizations and individuals don’t have the authority to declare a jihad under Islamic law.

The Moroccan fatwa stressed: “Acts of terror, aggression, terrifying peaceful people and killing innocents is absolutely forbidden in Islam.  Violence and coercion of any kind is alien to the Muslim faith.  The message of Islam values doing good and love.  The actions of extremists hinder this message from reaching the world.”  The Moroccan High Council of Ulema consists of 47 prominent Islamic clerics and is headed by the King of Morocco.  It was only the latest of a series of Islamic criticism ISIS has received from fellow Muslim individuals and Islamic scholars.

Following the Paris terror attacks, Egyptian cleric Khaled Engeldi proclaimed: “I would like to send my sincerest condolences to France for the tragedy that it suffered.   The whole world has suffered.  The worst thing is that some people try to link Islam to this terrible conduct.  We pray that Allah will give them some reason and perspective, and that they realize the danger about which reasonable people in our country have warned.  The president has also warned of this.  The problem is that some people believe that terrorism can be contained through niceties.  This is a very harsh lesson.”

According to MEMRI, a group of 124 Muslim scholars sent an open letter to ISIS terror leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in June 2014, condemning ISIS terrorism based upon Islamic grounds.  In the letter, the 124 Muslim scholars condemned ISIS for murdering innocent people, stressing that it is illegal in Islamic law to kill someone unless it is for a just cause.  MEMRI noted that Islam has not defined what would be a just cause to kill someone.   According to al Shafi’i, being an unbeliever is a just cause to kill someone unless one is a woman or children; he bars Muslims from killing women and children.   However, Abu Hanifa stressed that being an unbeliever is not a just cause to kill someone.   Regardless which school one follows, the Muslim scholars stressed that ISIS is violating Islamic law in their terror attacks.

The 124 Muslim scholars also emphasized that it is forbidden to murder envoys in Islam: “It was the Prophet’s custom not to harm envoys even if he was sent by his worst enemy.”  Utilizing this Islamic tradition, the 124 Muslim scholars condemned ISIS for murdering aid workers and journalists.   According to Yousef Al Qaradawi, French journalists kidnapped by ISIS are not legitimate targets because they are sympathetic to the Arabs, they came to help, and their government opposed the American invasion of Iraq.  Citing Islamic sources, the 124 Muslim scholars also noted that the jihad of the soul is the greater jihad while Islam considers belligerent jihad to be the lesser jihad.  They also noted when belligerent jihad is waged, it should be fought for Allah, not booty, fame, revenge, sex, or any other worldly objective.  Additionally, the Muslim scholars stressed that while waging jihad, one cannot kill civilians, women, children, civilians and the elderly.  They noted that Islam only permits killing active combatants and not even prisoners of war.  According to MEMRI, the entire letter demonstrated using Islamic arguments that ISIS has deviated from Islamic norms for waging jihad.

However, while there has been much criticism of ISIS from various Islamic sources, Kuwaiti author Ibtihal Al Khatib stressed that while there are many Muslims who are critical of ISIS, ISIS did not pop out nowhere: “Any attempt to justify or to legitimize terrorism is a terrorist idea, and is just as dangerous as the terrorist act itself because the idea and the act are equally dangerous.   I believe that there is a clear sentiment critical of ISIS, but by the same token, there is a strong pro-ISIS sentiment, and there is sympathy toward the Islamic State. This is why ISIS is growing. It is not growing in a void and it did not emerge in a void to begin with. It emerged from schools, from our ideology, and from our books or heritage, the contents of which the Islamic thinkers refuse to reexamine. If you do not reform yourself, the world will not wait for you. We are facing two options. Either we reform our (religious) discourse and join modern life, or else we will become extinct. I really believe that stagnant nations, which stick to principles that are at odds with the progress of civilization, are bound to come to an end. Such nations will not survive.”

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