A fatwa against militancy, which collected signatures from over 100,000 Islamic scholars, will be published on Saturday, declaring terrorism and suicide attacks as haram – or forbidden under Islamic law.
The 30 volumes of document consisting signatures from muftis and ulema – both male and female – across Bangladesh will aim to reduce radicalism and militancy, and discourage sympathisers and patrons of militants from pursuing violent ways.
The process for the fatwa, which is a scholars' ruling or learned interpretation on Islamic law, was initiated last December by Farid Uddin Masuud, chairman of Jamiatul Ulama and imam of Bangladesh's largest Eid congregation at Sholakia.
Signature collection for the “Anti-crime and anti-militancy peace fatwa for human well-being” began on January 3 this year and continued until May 31, amassing a total of 101,850 signatures. Of the signatories, 9,320 are female ulema and muftis.
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The fatwa booklet[/caption]
Some of the key signatories include Hefazat-e-Islam General Secretary Allama Junaid Babunagari, Shaikhul Hadis Allama Ashraf Ali, Mufti Abdul Halim Bokhari, Mufti Mansurul Haque, Allama Sulan Jawak Nadvee and Allama Abdur Rahman Hafezzi.
Of the 30 volumes, 26 have been categorised under divisional cities and the other four only contain signatures of the female scholars.
Each volume describes the main fatwa – which analyses the Qur'an and Hadith and declares terrorism and militancy absolutely forbidden in Islam's eyes.
All of the volumes also include similar anti-militancy fatwas issued by Darul Ulum Deoband, Moinul Islam Hathazari Madrasa, Islamic Research Centre, Chormonai Jamia Rashidia Islamia, Shaykh Zakaria Research Centre and Jamiatul Asad Madrasa.
An 11-member committee, led by Farid Uddin Masuud, has worked relentlessly since January to collect the signatures. The others in the committee are Member Secretary Abdur Rahim Kashemi, Joint Member Secretary Sadruddin Makunun, and members Allama Aleem Uddin Durlabhpur, Hossain Ahmad, Delwar Hossain Saifee, Imdadullah Kashemi, Aiyub Ansari, Ibrahim Shilasthanee, Abdul Quayum Khan and Zakaria Noman Foyzi.
Contents of the fatwa
The fatwa is 32 pages long and mentions the index and the names of associate ulema. The main chapter on the fatwa presents 10 questions in the light of several verses from Surah at-Taubah and a Hadith mentioned in Bukhari Sharif and Muslim Sharif.
The questions addressed by the fatwa are:
1. Does Islam support crime and terrorism?
2. Did prophets, particularly Muhammad (SM), take the barbaric path to establish Islam?
3. Are Jihad and terrorism the same thing in Islam?
4. Does terrorism create a path to heaven or hell?
5. Will a suicidal terrorist’s death be counted as martyrdom?
6. Is genocide allowed in the view of Islam?
7. Does Islam support the indiscriminate killing of people including women, children, and the elderly?
8. What sort of crime is it to kill a person while they are offering prayer?
9. Is it allowed to attack worship places of non-Muslims such as churches, pagodas and temples?
10. Is it not the responsibility of all – in the view of Islam – to create social resistance against criminals and terrorists?
The main fatwa answers all these questions in light of the Qur’an and the Hadith.
In answer to the third question, the fatwa reads: “Jihad and terrorism are not the same. Jihad is a key teaching of Islam, while terrorism is haram and illegal.
The fatwa answers the fifth question, saying: “Suicide and suicidal killings are haram in the eyes of Islam.”
The answer to the sixth question is: “It is not legal in Islam to mass murder innocent people. Even killing someone on suspicion is forbidden.”
Answering to the ninth question, the fatwa reads: “Anyone killing a non-Muslim who lives within a Muslim society would never even get to smell heaven. Attacking worship places of non-Muslims such as churches, pagodas and temples is haram and illegal in the eyes of Islam. It is a sternly punishable offence.”
Hopes of defeating terrorism
Asked how much impact the fatwa might play in defeating terrorism, Farid Uddin Masuud said: “I can say with strong conviction that a fatwa is much stronger, much sharper than 100,000 weapons. A correct fatwa purifies the psychological ideals, inspires people and makes them humanitarians.”
In the preface to the fatwa, Masuud writes: “Even if the fatwa for peace and human well-being fails to stop terrorism completely, there is no doubt that it will help reduce terrorism. It can surely be said that patrons of terrorism will be deterred.”
How the idea originated
At a joint meeting of law enforcers and clerics on December 17 last year, Masuud first proposed that a fatwa by 100,000 ulema signatories be prepared to tackle terrorism.
“Those who kill and terrorise in the name of religion are not doing the right thing. Islam never supports murder. So, a common fatwa with 100,000 signatures would be distributed to create awareness,” the Sholakia imam said at the time.
Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque asked Masuud to form a committee to plan how so many signatures can be collected.
Later on January 2, Masuud’s madrasa hosted an ulema conference, following which Rampura’s Taqwa Madrasa’s Muhtamim Maulana Mufti Abdur Rahim asked several major fatwa organisations of Bangladesh to explain militancy in light of the Sharia.
Responding to the call, Hathazari Madrasa, Islamic Research Centre, Chormonai Jamia Rashidia Islamia, Shaykh Zakaria Research Centre and Jamiatul Asad Madrasa issued their fatwas on the matter.
However, a source in a state intelligence agency told this correspondent that the main plan of the fatwa had been hatched by that particular agency, while the questions of the fatwa were prepared by Masuud following discussion with the agency high-ups.
Masuud, however, denied the claim, saying such rumours were being spread to smear the fatwa. The questions were prepared at the ulema conference, he added.
Copies of the fatwa will be sent to the president, the prime minister, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the United Nations. Work, however, has yet to be completed on the English and Arabic versions of the fatwa.
An aleem who is involved with the project said the printing of each volume of document is costing around Tk1,500. With plans to print a total of 600 volumes, the overall cost would be almost Tk100,000, he said.
Other major costs included the expenses of the coordination committees that had been collecting the signatures across the country.
Maulana Abdullah Shakir, who was involved in collecting signatures, said Masuud and his followers had provided the necessary funds.
Maulana Masuud said the work has been possible because of the generosity of well-wishers, adding that he also contributed as per his ability.