Three so-called fatwas (even a novice in Islam knows they do not fulfill the definition of a fatwa, which has to be written by a Islamic jurisprudent in response to a specific query) came out in July condemning the 7/7 attacks in London.
- British Muslim Forum: "Islam strictly, strongly and severely condemns the use of violence and the destruction of innocent lives." (July 18, 2005)
- 120 Canadian imams: "Any one who claims to be a Muslim and participates in any way in the taking of innocent life is betraying the very spirit and letter of Islam." (July 21, 2005)
- Fiqh Council of North America: "Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives." (July 28, 2005)
Non-Muslims can be forgiven if they assume the reference to "innocent lives" includes those traveling on the Underground and bus lines in London earlier in the month. But the term "innocent lives" can be much more restricted in application, as a fascinating article in today's Sunday Times (London) makes clear.
Titled "Undercover in the academy of hatred," it is based on the covert research by Ali Hussain of the newspaper's Insight team. Ali joined the Saviour Sect in June, a few weeks before the 7/7 bombings and took along his tape recorder. What he heard is hair-raising – it is imperative for Muslims to "instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar," "I am a terrorist. As a Muslim, of course I am a terrorist," "They will build tall buildings and we will bring them down," the bombings were "a good start" and Allah should "bless those involved"
Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of the Saviour Sect.
- Zachariah, referring to the London passengers: "They're kuffar [infidels, kafirs]. They're not people who are innocent. The people who are innocent are the people who are with us or those who are living under the Islamic state."
- Omar Bakri Mohammed, the sect's leader, who on July 20 publicly condemned the deaths of "innocents," but at the Selby Centre in Wood Green, north London, on July 22 referred to the 7/7 bombers as the "fantastic four" and explained that his grief for the "innocent" applied only to Muslims. "Yes I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar."
Comments: (1) Muslim statements condemning the killing of "innocents" cannot be taken at face value but must be probed to find out who exactly are considered innocent and who not. In brief, Can infidels be innocents?
(2) For other assessments of the U.S. "fatwa," see the critiques of Abul Kasem, Yehudit Barsky, Steven Emerson, Christopher Orlet, Steven Stalinsky, and the United American Committee, as well as the interesting quotations in an Associated Press report. See the fine analysis of the Canadian statement by David Ouellette.
(3) These documents fit a pattern of dissembling by Islamist organizations; for another example, see "CAIR's Phony Petition." (August 7, 2005)
Anjum Chaudri (a.k.a. Anjem Choudhury)
Anjum Chaudri (a.k.a. Anjem Choudhury)
Sackur: I just wonder why you won't condemn it when your own leader, Omar Bakri, said quite simply, "I condemn the killing of innocent people," on the 20th of July. Why won't you say what he said?
Chaudri: No, at the end of the day innocent people - when we say innocent people we mean Muslims. As far as non-Muslims are concerned, they have not accepted Islam, and as far as we are concerned, that is a crime against God.
Sackur: I want to be clear about what you are saying – this is very important – you are saying that only Muslims can count as innocent people?
Chaudri: As far as far as Muslims are concerned, you are innocent if you are a Muslim – then you are innocent in the eyes of God. If you are a non-Muslim, then you are guilty of not believing in God.
Comment: "When we say innocent people we mean Muslims" – one cannot put it more clearly or starkly than that.
Aug. 30, 2005 update: In a bellicose interview in Lebanon (where he may feel he has nothing to lose in being more candid), Omar Bakri Mohammed implicitly confirmed the above sentiments about non-Muslims not being innocent. He was questioned by Sanaa al Jack of Ash-Sharq al-Awsat:
(Q) you said that you are against killing innocent people and have nothing to do with the Al-Qaeda Organization. Now you are calling for jihad. How do you explain your position?
(A) I have often repeated that I am against the killing of innocent people anywhere in the world but who are the innocent? I keep the answer to myself.
Q) Who do you define as innocent?
(A) The innocent people are specified by Islam. I denounce killing innocent people regardless of who kills them. However, who are the innocent? I do not have to explain this issue.
(Q) Does this mean that you support killing those whom you consider guilty and those whom Islam as you understand it describes as not innocent?
(A) I support what the Sunni Muslim youths in Lebanon believe in.
(Q) What about killing in general?
(A) Sister, I do not say that I support killing in general. You said that.
(Q) But you alluded to a classification of innocent people. Does this mean that you support jihad in certain areas because of things that are being done against Islam?
(A) Do you think that the Palestinian resistance is not right?
(Q) I am not giving an opinion, I am asking about your point of view.
(A) I am against killing innocent people and I repeat this everywhere. This is my personal position.
Sep. 15, 2005 update: A Pakistani veteran of the jihad, Khalid Khawaja, explains his understanding of "innocents" this way to Steward Bell (as quoted in Bell's new book, The Martyr's Oath, p. 81): "We don't believe in killing innocent people but we would certainly like to send you into the Stone Age the same way you have sent us into the Stone Age."
Salah Sultan on Al-Risala TV
Salah Sultan on Al-Risala TV
Mar. 15, 2008 update: Two Saudi writers, Abdullah bin Bejad al-Otaibi and Yousef Aba al-Khail, have each called for a reconsideration of the Wahhabi notion that all non-Muslims are kafirs, prompting a top religious figure, Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, to call for their deaths in a fatwa published on his website yesterday.
Anyone who claims this has refuted Islam and should be tried in order to take it back. If not, he should be killed as an apostate from the religion of Islam. It is disgraceful that articles containing this kind of apostasy should be published in some papers of Saudi Arabia, the land of the two holy shrines [i.e., Mecca and Medina]. The rulers should hold these papers to account ... and all those who took part in the publication should know they were involved in the sin of heretical articles.
Al-Otaibi said he feared for his life and called on government to act. Aba al-Khail decried the fatwa: "If this is allowed to pass, this country will be transformed into an arena of bloodshed. It will be chaos."
Jan. 11, 2009 update: For a benign reference to "unbelievers" by a New Mexico Girl Scout troop, see "Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Promote Radical Islam."