One of the world’s leading Islamic scholars has issued a religious edict denouncing terrorism. Pakistani Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri claims his fatwa is the “most comprehensive” of its kind ever written.
The word 'fatwa' became synonymous with death threats in the 1980s after the publication of Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses prompted a fatwa that forced him into hiding for several years. But the religious ruling read out in London on Tuesday proves that this – incorrect - interpretation couldn’t be further from the truth.
The 600-page document is aimed primarily at Muslim Pakistanis. It denounces terrorists and suicide bombers as ‘unbelievers’ and focuses on the Sufi traditions of tolerance and moderation. “The act of terrorism is the act of disbelief," ul-Qudri told Radio Netherlands Worldwide. "They [terrorists] go outside of the ambit of Islam and they will go to hell. This act of terrorism is enmity, it is against humanity. The Koran condemns them and these people who commit acts of terrorism are not to be considered Muslims. This is the fatwa I have given.”
Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri is the founder of Minhaj ul-Quran, a religious and educational organisation set up to promote his ideas. He is a former Pakistani minister and advised assassinated politician (and twice Prime Minister) Benazir Bhutto, and travels the world preaching his message of harmony.
Other leading Islamists have commended ul-Qudri for his bravery in issuing such a wide-ranging and well-researched edict, including Dr Mohammed Ghaly, a theologian at the university of Leiden in the Netherlands: “One of the religious scholars who gave a fatwa against attacks on civilians has been killed… It’s courageous to do something like this, because since the killing of this theologian you have very little voices who speak about this very clearly as Tahir ul-Qadri has done.”
Dr Ghaly says the fatwa may have a worldwide impact but admits it’s unlikely to prevent the spread of Islamic terrorism: “I don’t think the fatwa will make such a difference for the terrorists but it can make a difference for the public who don’t know where is the right and where is the wrong opinion about this [subject]. Here’s the breakthrough.”