I was particularly impressed with the Fiqh Council of North America a couple years ago, when they made a quite definite statement about the place of mass murder in Islam.
The short version is 'terrorism isn't right.' The long version is still available online (NPR's All Things Considered, July 28, 2005) with a sort of digest in an MSN/NBC article of the same date.
I'm still impressed by this excerpt of the fatwa, taken from the NPR page:
"Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden - and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not 'martyrs.'That's about as definite a statement as I could hope for. The statement about "religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives" needs a precise definition of "extremism" and "innocent" to make me completely convinced: but that's nitpicking.
"The Qur'an, Islam's revealed text, states: 'Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.' (Qur'an, 5:32)"
(NPR's All Things Considered, July 28, 2005)
Even more impressive, this was a fatwa, or "scholarly opinion on a matter of Islamic law" - which is about as authoritative as it gets in Islam. With no hierarchical authority, Islam leaves a lot of elbow-room for alternative interpretations.
Now, that keeps things interesting.
The Fiqh Council of North America has an article "In Regards to the 9/11 Tragedy" on their website. It's undated, but that page has a 2006 copyright statement. The article makes the same basic points as the 2005 fatwa, as this excerpt shows:
"The Fiqh [juristic] Council of North America reiterates its earlier, repeated, unequivocal and unqualified condemnation of the destruction and violence committed against innocent men and women on September 11, 2001. This condemnation is deeply rooted in true Islamic values based on the Qur'anic instructions which consider the unjust killing of a single person equivalent to the killing of all humanity (Quran, 5:32).More good news surfaced about a year ago in Florida. U.S. Muslims Warn of Threat From Within headed an article of August 31, 2006. Imam Muhammad Musri, head of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, was quoted as saying "'Here in Central Florida, talking to most people, they are literally upset by the actions of Muslims _ or so-called Muslims _ overseas in Europe and the Middle East, because they say, "We wish they would come and see how we're doing here,"' Musri said. 'We know who the real enemy is _ someone who might come from the outside and try to infiltrate us. Everybody is on the lookout.'"
"It also condemns any subsequent acts of violence and victimization of Muslims or others."
(The article's full title is "Statement of the Fiqh Council of North America on the Day of Remembrance of the Tragic Events of September 11, 2001.")
What's the point of bringing up all this old news?
First, not all who follow Islam are itching to kill people they don't agree with. Saying "Islam is a peaceful religion" isn't the lunatic statement that events in the Middle East and elsewhere might suggest.
Second, there are, here and there, Muslims who are willing to say, publicly, that the people who say that they're killing for Allah aren't being good Muslims. Considering how easy it to lose your head over such statements, that takes nerve.
Maybe Islam really is a peaceful religion.
Posts on this topic:
- Rep. Ellison's Misconstrued Reichstag Remarks
- There's a New Loon in Minnesota
- Another Islamic Voice in the Debate
- "Islam is a Peaceful Religion" 2
- "Islam is a Peaceful Religion"
Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.