What The Fatwa Is Going On: What Scholars Are Saying Against Extremists

Extremist ideologues have ignored hundreds of fatwas against violence, arbitrary killing, and senseless war. Instead, they honor fatwas to legalize their right to kill; their right to enslave innocent women; and their right to govern and take land with force. Undoubtedly, this is dangerous to the Muslim youth and damaging to Islamic scholarship. 

To counter the extremists, moderate muftis have released rulings to denounce violence. In a recent fatwa titled “This Is Not The Path To Paradise,” world-renowned Mauritanian Muslim scholar and professor of Islamic law Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayah believes in fighting the idea of violence by cultivating the culture of peace in the Islamic heritage.

If you don’t defeat the ideas intellectually, then the ideas will remerge,” Bin Bayyah said.

In the same spirit, American scholar and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf refuted ISIS and their idea of establishing a Caliphate in a recorded Friday sermon that is both powerful and evocative–his khutbah is based on textual evidence from the Quran and hadith literature. (As I said in my last post, extremists do not have knowledge of the classical sources which is why their fatwas are illegitimate and illegal.) 

Increasingly, Muslim countries and councils are coming together to dishonor violent fatwas with new rulings to promote peace, mercy and coexistence.

Consider the following: in 2016, speakers at the Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies Forum in Abu Dhabi dismissed the Caliphate system and debased the extremists’ call to the Caliphate as a scam to lure the youth; the scholars agreed that correcting misconceptions about Islam is the only way to debunk extremists’ policies and practices aimed to divide Muslims.

In 2015, Morocco’s Council of Scholars issued a fatwa against terrorism after the Paris attacks—the fatwa stated that violence and coercion is alien to Islam. The same year, the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada issued a historic fatwa on joining ISIS/ISIL—their fatwa became the first formal document to use Islamic law to debase the extremists’ arguments for waging war.

Earlier, in November 2009, Jordan’s King Abdullah II convened an international Islamic conference with 200 of the world’s leading scholars to draft three key points in a document called The Amman Message; their fatwa abased the declarations of apostasy or takfir, a common concept used by extremist groups to declare war on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Thankfully, fatwas against violence continue to be issued by moderate scholars around the world to challenge extremist ideology.

As more Muslim scholars speak up, the extremists’ logic for so-called legitimate warfare and mass killing will be reduced. These same scholars have a responsibility to educate the Muslim youth, providing answers and an awareness of the faith to restore a strong sense of self, identity and purpose in life.

The hope is that when Muslims, young or old, learn and understand religious scripture, they will have the opportunity to uplift themselves and discourage others from joining violent extremism.

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