The CBC reported last week that a group of Muslim imams issued a fatwa, a religious edict, against attacks on North America.
A group of Canadian and U.S. Islamic leaders on Friday issued a fatwa, or religious edict, declaring that an attack by extremists on the two countries would constitute an attack on the 10 million Muslims living in North America.
The fatwa is largely a response to the attack on December 25th when a Nigerian man attempted to detonate a bomb on an inbound US flight coming from the Netherlands. The press article contains some statements that many have been waiting to hear for a long time:
“In our view, these attacks are evil, and Islam requires Muslims to stand up against this evil,” the imams said in their fatwa.
The imams said it is a duty of every Muslim in Canada and the U.S. to safeguard the two countries.
“They must expose any person, Muslim or non-Muslim, who would cause harm to fellow Canadians or Americans,” they said.
“It is religious obligation upon Muslims, based upon the Qur’anic teachings, that we have to be loyal to the country where we live,” said Soharwardy.
These statements represent a shift in liberal Islamic thinking. Since September 11, 2001, there has been a long-standing tension between those who identified the attacking terrorists as religiously motivated and those who defended Islam as a religion of peace. What many have been asking for has been that liberal Islamic leaders be more proactive in denouncing acts of terrorism, while said leaders have seemed hesitant to speak out against those of the same faith.
Still, there are some serious questions still on the table. Is this fatwa anything more than a bit of hand-waving? Given that the fatwa was issued by North American Imams (almost exclusively Canadian), will it be closely followed by the typically less moderate Muslims in the Middle East and Africa? If this fatwa will be followed by Islamic followers of all nations, why did it take so long to be issued?
Even more disturbing to me is the reasoning behind the fatwa.
Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said attacks on Canadian or U.S. soil are essentially attacks on Muslims.
Perhaps I’m misreading between the lines, but that appears to me to suggest that the attacks are wrong because they’re against fellow Muslims. This is not at all suprising to me (like many faiths, Islam has a special focus on in-group thinking and ethnocentrism), but it should be appalling to most with a conscience. The reason the attacks are wrong is because they’re against innocent human beings. It doesn’t matter whether there’s 0 or a billion Muslims living in North America; the attacks are every bit as unjust no matter the Muslim body count.