Call for Input in Drafting a Fatwa Calling for Justice and Condemning Terrorism

Robert D. Crane and Sheila Musaji

Posted Jul 11, 2005      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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July 12, 2005

We are beginning to get a lot of emails with input about how to improve this Call.  We request that if you have input for this discussion, please enter it as a comment to the article.  In that way we can all have access to the various positions, and use the ideas to draft a more widely accepted call.

July 11, 2005

Call for Input in Drafting a Fatwa Calling for Justice and Condemning Terrorism

    The growing crescendo of extremism in all religions and within and among all civilizations has led to a deadly dialogue of symbolic messages between terrorists and counter-terrorists, represented at two year intervals most strikingly by 9/11, by the response of “shock and awe” in Bagdad, and by the subway bombings in London.  The vicious circle of global injustice and of global terrorism in response to it can be broken only by the adoption of justice as the basic framework for human affairs.

  Since people calling themselves Muslims commit acts of terrorism, known in classical Islamic thought as hiraba, the Muslim community, and especially the scholars of Islam, have a special responsibility to expose these terrorists as frauds.  The responsibility to do so is both for the sake of truth in representing Islam as a religion of peace through justice, and for the sake of the Muslims of the world, who are the major victims of both terrorism and terroristic counter-terrorism.  Terror has no religion.

  Muslim scholars have a prime responsibility to teach the basic principles of the maqasid al shari’ah, which constitute a code of human responsibilities and rights developed over many centuries by some of the best legal minds in the world.  All of these universal principles or purposes of human society serve to promote order, justice, and freedom as the common law of humanity.

  The most important of these Islamic juristic principles in overcoming injustice and terrorism is haqq al haya, the duty to respect life.  This includes the second-order set of principles or hajjiyat known collectively as the doctrine of just war.  These include the original three such principles known in Christianity since the thirteenth century as the requirements of “sovereign authority” in calling for war, “just cause,” and “right intention.”  These Islamic principles also include the three principles, adopted later in the the seventeenth century by European jurisprudents, known as “last resort,” “proportionality” (that is, more good than harm in result), and “reasonable hope of success.”

  Both terrorism and terroristic counter-terrorism constitute violations of all six of these requirements for the use of force in human affairs.  The role of scholars in the current era of escalating violence is not to apply these principles but to guide the policymakers in understanding and following them as the most effective means to counter such terrorism.

  A collective statement condemning hiraba by whomever committed should identify specific persons and organizations as examples of what violates the rule of law according to Islamic principles, starting with Osama bin Laden and Al Qa’ida, in order to expose as fraudulent the frequent claims that no authoritative Muslims have ever condemned them or any similar persons and groups.  Perhaps it should also provide a list of the most egregious examples of terroristic counter-terrorism over the past half century or so. (possible examples: Bosnia, Hiroshima

  This collective statement should also define the specific characteristics of Muslim muharibun or Islamically defined terrorists, especially their principal heresy, which is their belief that the use of force is fard ‘ain rather than fard kifaya.  This means that each individual person is entitled to declare jihad, in contrast to classical Islamic law as articulated by the statements of scholars in Amman on July 6, 2005, that only a single legitimate authority has this right.  This heresy is dangerous because it means that jihad is no longer a means that must be legitimated but is a goal in itself, so that violence no longer needs justification. 

  Anther specific characteristic of modern Muslim terrorists, and of some non-Muslim counter-terrorists, is an apocalyptic mentality and blind discipline in movements to impose utopias on humankind, including the pursuit of order for its own sake as a false god.  This is accompanied by the characteristic of declaring takfir against all of their opponents, so that all those who do not support them, whether Muslims or not, are fair game for murder.

  In order to maintain balance between negative condemnations and positive exhortations, an equal proportion of emphasis should be given to each.  Thus, the statement by a thousand leading Muslim scholars should address ways to perfect the universal system of money and credit so that it will narrow the growing wealth gap both within and among countries and thereby strengthen the viability and effectiveness of an economy based on capital ownership and free trade as the engine of economic prosperity.  The statement should also explain how improving the institutions of economic democracy to broaden the ownership of future wealth can promote the necessary environment for truly representative governance.

  In conclusion, the statement should address the universal belief in all religions that truth is absolute and is not created by human beings, so that it is our task to seek higher understanding and try to apply it in the form of justice.  All parts of this statement should reference pertinent parts of the Qur’an, including the Qur’anic verse, wa tama’at kalimatu Rabbika sidqan wa ‘adlan, “The Word of your Lord is fulfilled and perfected in truth and in justice.”

This is a request to any who can help us prepare this fatwa, solicit signatures of scholars from around the Muslim world for this fatwa, and Insh’Allah, if we can make this happen, we will ask for help to run full page ads with the fatwa and the names of all the signatories in major newspapers in the country.

If anyone is interested in participating in this effort, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 

Dr. Robert D. Crane
Sheila Musaji

see the collection of articles, statements, and fatwas by Muslims against terrorism at