A Fatwa Against Muslim Extremists

Finally, a fatwa I can actually get behind!

The 20 imams associated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada said this marked the first fatwa by the Muslim clergy declaring attacks on Canada and the U.S. to be attacks on Muslims.

“In our view, these attacks are evil, and Islam requires Muslims to stand up against this evil,” the imams said in their fatwa.

They *would* be Canadian… :) Good for them. I’ll take this anytime. I wanted to call the imams “voices of reason,” but… well… I have no doubt we atheists would find many of their other beliefs pretty absurd.

All this said, what matters is how seriously this fatwa will be taken. If it’s just noise in the air, it does no good. Despite the fact this story is being covered in the media, it’ll be even better once we know this message is making its way into mosques. Still, we need more brave religious leaders like these to take a stand against the extremists.

It would be great if we could do away with religious influences completely… but that’s unrealistic and this is a positive step forward.

Is there any reason not to support them?

On a similar note, a new report (PDF) from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scholars says that moderate Muslims in America have helped prevent radicalization:

The research shows that denunciations of terrorism, internal self-policing, community building, government-funded support services and political engagement can all reduce risks of radicalization…

“Our research suggests that initiatives that treat Muslim-Americans as part of the solution to this problem are far more likely to be successful,” said [co-author David H.] Schanzer.

(Thanks to Richard for the link!)

  • muggle

    Good for them! Exactly what they should be doing.

    And it is good news that moderates are speaking up.

  • monkeymind

    This is good, but it’s not that new or isolated, as some might think:

    Islamic Statements Against Terrorism

    Yeh Hum Naheen (Say No To Terrorism) Music Video

  • Heidi

    This is exactly what the world needs to hear from religious leaders. Extremism is not ok. Color me amazed and impressed.

  • Aaron K

    Minor correction — as any good style guide will tell you, whenever the two schools are listed together, UNC comes before Dook.

  • Joffan

    One imam is actually from the US, from Houston no less. The rest are Canadian, including 10 from Calgary.

  • Aj

    I’ve heard leading Muslims frequently denouncing terrorism since 9/11 (not as actively as they denounce Israel or Denmark though). Polls are clear, and have been for over a decade that Muslims don’t support terrorist groups in great numbers, as much as 10% support them in a few Muslim majority countries, but that’s the extreme end.

    The report from Duke doesn’t even outline the evidence for their claims. Governments have reached out to Muslim communities in Europe, but that hasn’t turned out so well.

  • monkeymind

    The report from Duke doesn’t even outline the evidence for their claims. Governments have reached out to Muslim communities in Europe, but that hasn’t turned out so well.

    p. 1 of the Executive Summary

  • http://fundie-watch.blogspot.com The Watcher

    I’m happy that they’re doing this, but I’m not convinced that they ever had an obligation to do so in the first place. They certainly SHOULDN’T have it. The only obligation that moderate imams have to condemn terrorism was given to them by those on the far right who equate all Muslims with terrorists.

    I didn’t hear them screaming for Catholic priests to condemn Tim McVeigh, or for Koreans to condemn Seung-Hui Cho. Nor should they, since the worst people of any given ethnicity are neither the responsibility nor the representatives of that entire ethnicity. If they were, wouldn’t it be past time for us to apologize for Stalin and Mao?

  • gmcfly

    I didn’t hear them screaming for Catholic priests to condemn Tim McVeigh, or for Koreans to condemn Seung-Hui Cho. Nor should they, since the worst people of any given ethnicity are neither the responsibility nor the representatives of that entire ethnicity. If they were, wouldn’t it be past time for us to apologize for Stalin and Mao?

    Not really. These are not simply terrorists who *happen* to be Muslim. They are terrorists who are *motivated* by Islam (or their interpretation of it).

    It’s the same fallacy religious people make when they blame the deaths under Stalin and Mao on atheism. Those individuals were not doing what they did for the great cause of Atheism. They were doing it for another worldview, communism.

    When someone uses religion as the motive for murder, leaders of that religion do have a responsibility, as experts and authorities on their religion, to clarify its actual views.

  • Twin-Skies

    @The_Watcher

    Just clarifying, were you seriously trying to connect atheists with Stalin and Mao just now?

  • Aj

    monkeymind,

    p. 1 of the Executive Summary

    That’s just not true, and explains a lot.

  • monkeymind

    p. 1 of the Executive Summary is p. 4 of the pdf. Para 2 under Purpose of the Project explains the methodology.

  • NewEnglandBob

    No, sorry but a fatwa can mean anything from irrelevance to a death sentence.

    It is whatever the issuer feels it to be, so it is not acceptable.

  • monkeymind

    The methodology was:

    -interviews
    -literature review, both of academic studies and publications of Muslim-American organizations
    -compilation of data on prosecutions for terrorism

  • http://fundie-watch.blogspot.com The Watcher

    When someone uses religion as the motive for murder, leaders of that religion do have a responsibility, as experts and authorities on their religion, to clarify its actual views.

    Fair enough, but how many terrorists are really motivated by religion? Al Qaeda seems far less motivated to spread Islam than it does to further the political interests of Afghanistan and the Mid East. While Middle Eastern Muslims certainly feel a kinship with Muslims the world over, it’s really more of a political alliance against the US and, somewhat, Europe. They haven’t been active at all in East Asia.

    It may also be motivated by what they perceive as our assault on all things Islamic. I can’t even begin to explain the beginnings of the conflict between us and the Middle East, but a lot of it has more to do with political power than religion.

    Just clarifying, were you seriously trying to connect atheists with Stalin and Mao just now?

    No. I’m trying to disconnect them (us). I don’t care what Mao and Stalin did because they’re not my responsibility. I’m an atheist, but I’m neither a Maoist nor a Stalinist. I don’t care what they think was acceptable behavior and I don’t take my cues from them. Anyone who thinks I need to apologize for them will be met with laughter and derision.

  • Aj

    monkeymind,

    I’m not interested in 120 interviews, selective, asking opinions about what should be done.

    You might expect the review of the literature included studies that support the conclusions. Negative. Out of the few case studies found they do not support or confirm the recommendations, and are not represented as if they do. Comprehensive? Check out the reference section.

    Publications from political advocacy groups show what Muslims have attempted to do, not whether it’s actually working. Doesn’t provide evidence for the recommendations, only the things that are referred to in the conclusions exist.

    Statistics on prosecutions show that there’s a problem. It doesn’t provide evidence for the recommendations. No statement made about the data justified the efficacy of recommendations.

    If you take this seriously I recommend reading past the first few pages, and attempt to address the question of how they’re justifying their recommendations with evidence.

  • http://Myspace.com/rican_zombie Andres

    Well then, looks like Sam Harris was wrong, the moderates aren’t as bad as the fundies. Wonder if he’ll change his tune now.

  • PSP

    Whenever I hear of devout Muslims denouncing attacks it is because they may kill other Muslims. It is always put into the framework of “killing other Muslims” not “killing other people”. I’ve heard this multiple times, and no one really calls them on it. This may be because it is hard to really find justifications in the quran and hadith for not killing “unbelievers” (in times of war or whatever).
    From personal conversations, sometimes Christians and Jews are actually considered believers depending on the Islamic scholar you ask. But if you are an atheist, it is quite clear, you are burning in hell ;).

  • Jeff B

    the moderates are dangerous because they live amongst us…spreading the fallacy of an actual co-existence of faith and reason.

    Not possible…as has been proven over millenia

  • Hugh Kramer

    Hemant asked if there’s any reason not to support these Canadian imams. Not in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to criticize about:

    this is a large step in the right direction for the North American Islamic community. There are a few things about it though that bother me (aside from the tardiness of its issuance, I mean… or the very small number of North American Islamic clerics endorsing it). One of the most salient of these things is the idea of conflating the wrongness of extremist attacks with the fact that Muslims live in these countries. If there were no Muslims in Canada or the US, would that mean these attacks would not be worth condemning, much less fighting against? Tangental to this point is another question: Why aren’t there more of this kind of fatwa being issued in Muslim countries? Shouldn’t they be exposing extremists there too? After all, by far the largest proportion of victims of extremist attacks are other Muslims.

    from an article of mine.

  • http://liberatedskeptic.blogspot.com/ SoonerHumanist

    @HughKramer:

    I completely agree with you, in fact I was just getting ready to post about that.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds it offensive. Basically their argument is that extremists shouldn’t attack Canada or the U.S. (how did we get lucky enough to be included anyway) because they might hit fellow Muslims. This is based on the abominable Qu’ranic teaching that non-Muslims are second-class citizens, and agnostics (me), humanists (me), atheists, Buddhists, deists, Hindus, Pastafarians, and Conan O’Brian-worshippers (me) need not even apply.

    @Andres: No, Sam Harris was right, for the reason I just stated above. Using a contemptible belief system to justify a good thing doesn’t make it a good deed, it just means that you’ve arrived at a religiously-based argument for what non-theists already know: killing people in the name of religion is unjustified. They don’t even go that far, though, because they’re basically making the Argument from Collateral Damage.

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  • http://friendlyhumanist.net/ Timothy Mills

    Here's the ISCC's own announcement of the fatwa. Well done to them, and well done to you, Hemant (and Richard) for bringing this to the awareness of the atheosphere.

    Another Canadian group, the Muslim Canadian Congress seems to be similarly enlightened regarding a wide range of social issues.

    I've even read about brave anti-terrorism work done by a fundamentalist Muslim, Mubin Shaikh. People (all of us) can exhibit amazing combinations of compassion, reason, superstition, and rancor.


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