Ibn Taymiyyah and his fatwa on terrorism




By Asghar Ali Engineer,

Terrorism has become a worldwide disease which is swallowing the lives of thousands of innocent people in certain intensive conflict areas like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir, North East India, certain other parts of India, South Thailand and so on. There are different reasons for terrorist violence in different conflict areas which vary from political to socio-economic injustices.

However, it must be clearly understood that terrorism does not suddenly drop out of heaven; it originates here on earth in response to acts of omission or commission by the ruling classes. But soon it acquires dynamics of its own and ceases to be mere response. It becomes phenomenon in itself and various vested interests, political, economic and those relating to armament market beginning to support it directly or indirectly. No terrorist movement can survive long without such support and merely as a response.



[Photo by gors1_01]

I would also like to say here that the very terminology ‘Islamic terrorism’ is a media creation and it reflects, besides prejudices and ignorance, hostile attitude towards anything Islamic or to do with the Muslim world. No religion can ever encourage mindless violence as terrorists resort to. Religion in its essence is nothing more than moral and ethical way of life upholding the highest values of life. Everything else is culture, politics or other interests. Any conduct or behaviour which does not reflect this moral and ethical core is anything but religious.

Here in this article we are concerned with the terrorist violence which was unleashed by Al-Qaeda led by Usama bin Laden with his attack on New York Business Towers in 2001. We are not going to analyze here why he did it. We have thrown enough light on this in several other articles. We are concerned here with what legitimation he found to justify this attack.

All analysts and scholars agree that Usama and his followers used Ibn Taymiyya’s famous fatwa on use of violence against unjust rulers. Ibn Taymiyyah was borne few years after the Mongol sack of Baghdad and unimaginable savagery committed by them killing hundreds of thousands of people in most barbarous ways. Taymiyyah, himself a great jurist, was follower of Imam Hanbal. Imam Hanbal prohibits rebellion against unjust authority as it would result in anarchy and more bloodshed.

However, Ibn Taymiyyah, as against teachings of his own school issued a fatwa justifying violence against unjust and authoritarian rulers so as to re-establish the Islamic rule and rule of Shari’ah. This fatwa is being used by the terrorists to justify their attacks as ‘Islamic’ and many young Muslims who do not even know who Ibn Taymiyyah was and in what circumstances hr issued this fatwa, get misled and find ‘Islamic legitimation” in his fatwa.

Initially the Ulama, though did not necessarily approve of use of this fatwa, kept mum or just whispered heir opposition not to be loud enough to be heard. But when violence intensified and became uncontrollable, their conscience revolted and many of them decided to call al-Qaeda’s bluff by opposing the fatwa. Now many of them are coming forward condemning use and misuse of Ibn Taymiyya.

Ibn Taymiyya, undoubtedly a great scholar and eminent jurist, had issued a set of four fatwas known as Mardin fatwas. Mardin was a Turkish fortress in South East Turkey with mixed population. And Osama had quoted this Mardin fatwa repeatedly in his calls for Muslims to overthrow the Saudi monarchy and wage jihad against the United States. Some prominent Ulama from the Islam world decided to meet in Mardin to discuss Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa towards the end of March 2010

This historic document was referred to by these Islamic scholars and took decisive stand against it. They said, “Anyone who seeks support from this fatwa for killing Muslims or non-Muslims has erred in his interpretation.” They further said, “It is not for a Muslim individual or a group to announce and declare war or engage in combative jihad…on their own.”

Those who use Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa totally ignore the circumstances in which the fatwa was issued. Nothing can be valid unless seen in historically concrete circumstances. Ibn Taymiyyah himself, as pointed out above, had gone against his own Hanbali School in issuing the fatwa. Even then all Islamic scholars had not unanimously endorsed it. Moreover, as pointed out by an Islamic scholar from Belgium Prof. Yahya Michot, Mardin fatwa has some ambiguity which has been ignored both by terrorists as well as many western scholars and commentators.

It is important to note that the Mardin conference gathered 15 leading scholars from countries including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, Senegal, Kuwait, Iran, Morocco and Indonesia. Among them were Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah of Mauritania and Yemeni Sheikh Habib Ali al-Jifri.

It would be seen that while Ibn Taymiyyah was alone in issuing the fatwa here a galaxy of prominent Ulama and Muftis from across the Islamic world from Indonesia in South East to Algeria in the West Africa gathered and rejected the fatwa. It is representative statement of the Islamic world rejecting terrorism. Not that those terrorists are going to stop violence and come on table for negotiations for peace.

There are too powerful interests to care for any such rejection from across the Islamic world but it certainly sets norms and indicates what the Islamic world stands for. For sure even then anti-Islamic tirade is not going to stop and many western commentators and anti-Islamic forces will continue to hold Usama bin laden as real representative rather than this galaxy of Ulama from across the Islamic world.

It is not only these Ulama who met at Mardin who have condemned terrorism but several other conferences and congregations have been taking place in several Islamic countries condemning terrorist violence. Several books are also being written and discussed. One of the remarkable works in this respect is that of Maulana Tahirul Qadri of Pakistan who has compiled a six hundred page volume quoting authorities from beginning of Islam through medieval ages to the present day opposing terrorism and senseless killing of innocent people and non-combatants which is strictly prohibited in Islam.

Another seminar took place at Oxford when some Islamic scholars met to discuss a book written by Prof. Yahya Michot, an Islamic scholar from Belgium who teaches Islamic history and culture in Belgium University. This book, Muslims Under non-Muslim Rule, has been written on four fatwas issued by Ibn Taymiyyah known as Mardin fatwas. The book, besides discussing life and work of Ibn Taymiyyah, analyses the four fatwas issued by Ibn Taymiyyah.

Yahya Michot maintains that Taymiyyah issued these fatwas in certain historical context and hence it is imperative to study and explore his writings in the existential circumstances in which they were produced otherwise one is not only likely to misunderstand but also misinterpret them. His Mardin fatwa is a good example. Mardin “occupies a strikingly strategic location. It is dominated by a fortress reputed to be unassailable, from which the view reaches deep into the vast plain of upper Mesopotamia.”

Though the precise date of the fatwa is not known, Ibn Taymiyyah issued it in response to a request to clarify whether Mardin was a domain of peace (dar al-salam) or domain of war (dar al-harb). According to Prof. Yahya there is sort of ambiguity in this fatwa and there is no clear answer coming from the fatwa.

In his own words, “Is (Mardin) a domain of war or of peace? It is a (city of a status) composite (murakkab) in which both the things signified (by those terms are to be found). It is not in the situation of a domain of peace in which the institutions (ahkam) of Islam are implemented because its army (jund) is (composed of Muslims. Nor is it in the situation of domain of war, whose inhabitants are unbelievers. Rather, it constitutes a third type of (domain), in which the Muslim shall be treated as he merits, and in which the one who departs from the Way/law of Islam shall be combated as he merits.”.

Thus it is important to note that Ibn Taymiyyah refused to say whether Mardin was a domain of war or peace and it is most significant aspect of the Mardin fatwa which has been ignored by Usama as well as western scholars who demonize Ibn Taymiyyah. Today’s world is almost entirely composite in nature. There are either significant Muslim majorities or minorities.

The Ulama opposing terrorism are repeatedly emphasizing this fact of religious plurality of world today and no medieval opinions expressed by jurists can be valid. Any fatwa, like the Mardin one, can be issued without taking concrete conditions into account and there is unanimity among Islamic scholars that if Muslims are allowed to leave in peace and have guaranteed religious freedom such a region cannot be but dar al-saqlam i.e. abode of peace, in Taymiyya’s own words. No violence can be justified in such region. Thus terrorism has no place for modern world.

Comments

Selective denentia of Muslim theologians!

While umpty positive actions prescribed by Islam go uncared for,the half-baked Mullahs are misleading the youth about jihad!
Osama bin Ladin's obsession with American imperialism has made him the great hero of jihad,armed with an out of date Fatwa of Ibn Tymmyyah!
Asghar ali Engineer has once again pin-pointed the hollowness of jihad in modern world.
In another article :"Islam" - a "State or civilization", he has established that we,Muslims, the "best community
that has been raised up for mankind", have signally failed to do good and exhort others to do good and not only avoid evil for ourselves but also prevent others from evil to establish peace on the planet of earth!(3:110).

A PLEA TO THE WRITER

It is my sincere plea to the writer of the Article that please open up your eyes regarding the 9/11 Attacks. They had no connection whatsoever with Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. And this is no 'Conspiracy Theory' I'm advocating here. This is a fact. If he has any doubt whatsoever, please refer to 'The Loose Change' by Dylan Avery and the scientific enquiry about the Collapse of the Twin Towers and the WTC 7 by Professor Steven E Jones.

Let me tell you a very popular conspiracy theory. And it states that a handful of men living in the caves of Afghanistan were able to Sabotage the Air Defense system of the SUPERPOWER of the world for almost 2 hours and left no traces of plane crashes at the PENTAGON and the WHITE HOUSE.

The American Govt needed a Casus Belli and they carefully engineered these attacks.

And I know that my voice is least likely to be heard, but still out of great hope I am making this comment so that you as a REPOTER realize the IMPACT you have on the masses and by such massive misleading generalization of such pivotal instances of history you are serving as an ACCOMPLICE to such a crime.

Waiting to hear from you soon.

FATWAH IN FAVOUR OF RESISTANCE AGAINST INJUSTICE

THE SUM AND SUBSTANCE OF ENGINERS SAHEB'S WRITE-UP IS THAT IBN TAYMIYYAH IS IN THE MINORITY WHILST A GOOD MAJOTITY OF ULAMA-E-DEEN DO NOT SEE EYE TO EYE WITH IBN TAYMIYYAH AND SO IBN TAYMIYYAH'S DOCTRINE IS WRONG.
MY SUBMISSION IS THAT TO FIGHT AGAINST INJUSTICE IS THE ISLAMIC DUTY OF EVERY MUSLIM AND IF HE OR SHE FAILS TO DO IT, SHE WILL BE ANSWERABLE TO ALLAH

Brother SM Pasha cannot be more right

Brother SM Pasha,
One cannot be more right than what you said. In fact I have written to Mr Engineer about things which actually forms a majority view but in the zeal of getting brownie points from the 'others' people like Mr Engineer ignore what common man thinks and feel. It would be foolhardy to conclude that majority is always right. If we are not potent enough to stop injustice, we need to think about injustice. This is the least of Emaan!!

MAJORITY OR MINORITY OF VIEWS IRRELEVANT IN RELIGIOUS MATTERS

THANK YOU BROTHER FOR ENDORSING MY VIEW. HOW BEAUTIFUL AND HOW CORRECT ARE THE WORDS OF A FANOUS WRITER WHO EMPHATICALLY DECLARES THAT THEY ARE COWARDS WHO DARE NOT BE ON THE RIGHT WITH ONE OR TWO.
AS FAR AS Mr. ENGINEER IS CONCERNED, HE HAS NOT EVEN ONCE ADMITTED HIS MISTAKE IF AND WHEN HE IT IS POINTED OUT TO HIM AND AS FAR AS HIS 'islamic scholrship" IS CONCERNED, ASK ABOUT IT TO THE FOLLOWERS OF SAYEEDINA BURHANUDDIN, THEY WILL TELL YOU WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE IS. MY IMPRESSION ABOUT HIM IS THAT HE IS ONE OF THOSE WHO RUN WITH THE HARES AND HUNT WITH THE HOUNDS. MAY ALLAH SAVE THE UMMAH FROM SUCH SO-CALLED ISLAMIC SCHOLARS
S.M.PASHA

Two things to be answered by Mr Engineer & one by Nyamatullah

1. There is no conclusive proof that Al Qaidah did demolish the twin towers. This has nothing with defending the organisation but will you people write on similar numerous organisations on the other side of the fence. Mere assumption of the involvment of Al Qaidah, if negated will collapse Mr Engineer's contention.
2. The use of words like terrorists and West in one breath proves that Mr Engineer too is guilty of associating terror with Islam. Why accept the act of Usamah bin ladin being Islamic and right a wrong article.

Niyamatullah:

Where is the fullt baked Mullahs (mulla) you are talking about. How you expect the world to behave when you are not calling names to the wrongdoers? The style of excluding oneself from the group and then just being critical is a pass. Hosh ke nakhoon len. Did not the people who loved peace at the advent of last Prophet take up arms when the treaties were violated. If people like you are allowed to speak, you'd even call the Prophet a terrorist. Why you think people like you are not followed? The folly is with your type of people. You do not posses any qualities of being leader and expect people to follow you. The fatwa of ibne Taimiyyah has been boiled down to one thing by Mr Engineer, which is if we do not follow the deeds of our ancestors, we are wrong. This is what the Hindus did and lost the message of their book. Now, they coolly follow the dictats of the ruling class and are at it for past thousands of years.

To say the least, your last two sentences show where you stand. If you faulter people who do no killing or demolition but complain of injustice which majority of Muslims do, you call out their 'failure'. Where do you stand in this scheme of things is not answered by you. Those who do not allow simple complains are impotent, why not to show similar impotence when you call names to Muslims? What is your contribution by the way?

9/11

President Obama during the start of his talk at Al-Azhar, says that some people doubt the veracity of the official version of 9/11. Then he conveniently sidesteps this issue and talks on everything else.
When will people open their eyes?

See these

1.http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/911q.html?q=911q.html
2.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9/11_conspiracy_theories#Engineering_public...
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm73wOuPL60
4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_SDGb-TJcU&feature=related
5. http://www.sott.net/articles/show/206083-Al-Qaeda-Doesn-t-Exist
I think these few r more worthy to know the fact that 9/11 wasnt done by muslims after hearing Ibn Taymiyyah's "wrong" fatwa!!!! That is a part of their "hate policy", initiation of the "clash of civilization" and the "modern crusade" as told by Bush, etc.. People like us r still believing in the theories made by them by blaming some muslims/clerics/fatwas, etc. Be aware!!

Fatwa on Terrorism

It is strange to see people still doubting if Al Qaeda is responsible for 9/11 in spite of the fact that Osama bin Laden himself has boasted on videotape as well as audiotape that he had planned it.

While Muslims are required to fight for justice, killing hundreds of innocent civilians including women and children is hardly just. If Muslims want to fight against injustice, there is more than enough injustice in Muslim societies that they can fight. As Maulana Mazhari points out in an article on this subject, Muslims can take on an enemy even if they are outnumbered 2 to 1. But Al Qaeda in relation to the U.S. military is outnumbered 100,000 to 1. In terms of equipment, they are at a disadvantage of 500,000 to 1. With their attack on the World Trade Center, they killed 3000 Americans, but in turn this has brought about the deaths of 100,000 innocent Iraqis and 100,000 innocent Afghans. Since 9/11 Muslims in America and Europe are shunned and have difficulty finding jobs and housing.

I very much doubt that even Ibn Taymiyyah's fatwa called for such a course of action. The 15 Islamic scholars from around the world who met in Mardin, Turkey, last month have issued a strong fatwa against terrorism. They have rightly said, "It is not for a Muslim individual or a group to announce and declare war or engage in combative jihad ....on their own."

fact of fiction

Come on Ghulam sahab,
in this age of media manipulation and digital techniques, you are relying on a video to prove who did 9/11.
Tomorrow x/y/z can come out with a video saying he was Jesus Christ, or that a/b/c killed Mahatma Gandhi..
The incredulous question is if all these videos are true, why cant the US with its advanced surveillance methods capture these militants- how come they can easily post such videos on the Net, or send them to Al-Jazeera/Al-Arabiya, etc?
Please think logically, and do a simple Google search or refer the websites quoted by brother Basheer below.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories

By believing loony conspiracy theories about 9/11, Muslims are making laughing stocks of themselves. After major atrocious events there are always some professors or other fringe experts who propund elaborate pseudo-scientific semi-plausible alternative theories to explain those events. There were plenty of bizarre theories about the assassinations of both President Lincoln and President Kennedy, and there were always some people ready to believe such theories. Even now many Hindus believe that the Godhra train fire was the result of a pre-planned conspiracy involving the Pakistani government and some local residents of Gujarat. Bin Laden and al Zawahiri have sent some 25 audio-tapes to Al Jazeera Televsion which have been broadcast by networks all over the world after being authenticated by experts. In none of those tapes have either of them ever denied responsibility for 9/11.

Pl dont sidestep- face the facts

Ghulam bhai,
Not only fringe professors/experts, but also mainstream ones have questioned the official version so much that even Pres. Obama had to record the same during his talk at Al-Azhar.

Instead of side-stepping the question, and accepting any view as a gullible person, please answer this simple question - why is the US with all its surveillance equipment and satellite imagery unable to capture these hi-tech militants who live in remote mountains yet smuggle out video cassettes to media houses, in the presence of imperial forces?

Kindly proceed in a logical manner, then maybe you will get to know more on the same InshaAllah. What Basheer sahab has pointed out above is right, why should we point fingers at anyone without SOLID and CONCLUSIVE proof? In any court of law, presumption of innocence exists unless proven guilty.

I hope better counsel will prevail and you will not get emotional but will take recourse to rationality.

Laughable

You quoted many videos of Usama etc on Aljazeerah but are you sure who sent these videos. You are telling as if you're at Aljazeerah and received them. Even if you had received them at Aljazeerah, how to believe that those were sent by Usama? In warfare, information is most important and it would be naive on anybody's part to beileve simple claims without independent verifications. If the conspiracy theories are laughable so should be your rejoinding comments. Let us know who these expert are who announce that the tapes are genuine? Why only Americans certify the authenticity of the tapes. Even if we agree that the people involved are expert, has not the demon-cracky of the West made mess of itself by theories like WMDs and dirty bombs. Mr Ghulam, you have been writing like the Arab Think Tanks who do nothing, not even fearing the Jewish bomb and American military might (even if we accept cowardice a virtue) but talk of the geographical size of Iran to be threat. People who have sold out their soul always argued that Saddam was wrong. This is a partial truth. Had the peaceloving Arabs, those who ganged up against Saddam shown some self respect to the Palestinian problem, Saddam could not have had any excuses. In fact the Gulf Arabs have been more american than the Americans well before Saddam did his misadventure.
The mentality of exluding oneself and then just commenting is not enough. People like you say why the Iraqi's did not behave the way the Germans did after WW2. Poeple are blind enough not to see that only Japan was nuked and not USSR because the commonality of the Cross. Many think that Farsi speaking Iranians would be better than what we have in Arab lands. Atleast most of them are fed on the Palestinian cause and swear by the Qur'an. In our 'modern Quraish' mentality, being a Sunni (whatever that means to you) people conveniently forget that being Shia too is not being a Crusader etc. If is better if we are not asked to renounce the Prophet and God. So, stop commenting coming out of the Muslim Sphere and then claim you are one. This is sycophancy at its best and even the Prophet identified them.
PS: If you cant influence the events, do not sermonise only one party. Laughable.

Note from Moderator: Slightly edited. No personal attacks please.

Mr G Mohidinn,

You firmly believe in the broadcast of the western media and western expert. By same logic you should accept other media and expert. It is mockery if you are the police, prosecutor, adjudicator and executioner. Why to have the facade of fairness. The meek acceptance by people like you or me is in fact aiding the tormentor. It is like asking the raped to enjoy it because it is unavoidable. The better way is to keep mum and regard the wrong as being wrong. Calling the Conspiracy Theorists being 'Loony' is bad mouthing. If you cant call the tormentor's bluff, atleast keep quite. How come one criticises the same group we claim to be from. The mentality of being moderate has been proved to be party to the problem and at best be called 'sell out'.

Ooooops!!! I dont knw

Ooooops!!!
I dont knw whether people r looking around whats going on around.
Even there r several Quranic verses which says about outnumbering several times more than 2:1.
Let me agree for d sake of agreement. Even a layman think about some logical simple Questions apart from saying "Even Osama & Zawahiri" boastly!! accepted their great jihad(???).
Try this...
1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_q6j6BZkHQ&feature=related
2. http://www.answering-christianity.com/911_is_the_biggest_lie.htm
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E3oIbO0AWE
Several americans r sayin that their' own admin's involvement is highly suspected. Several people throughout the world did/doing researches about the truth.
We people r saying Muslims did it! by sitting elsewhere.
Even after these proofs, we dont know whether muslims participitated in this organised crime. But I am afraid (as several others do) that in the "Day of Resurrection", i wil be Questioned about spreading false allegations without valid proof.....