This article was originally
published in the Norwegian daily
By Jens Tomas Anfindsen, editor, HonestThinking
Ghozlan’s position on suicide bombers is in agreement with that of a majority of Sunni-Muslim leaders world wide. The position is a result of theological-political deliberations, not just emotions and rage, and it is well worth having a closer look at its ideological foundation.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi is
widely considered to be the single most powerful Islamic ideologist in the
world, and at any rate he is the most influential person in Sunni-Islam when it
comes to questions of Islamic jurisdiction. He was born in
The Director of the Institute of Islamic
Political Thought in
When you talk about Sheikh Qaradawi, you talk about an audience of hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world, someone who really creates public opinion. … Whenever Mr. Qaradawi issues a Fatwa, that Fatwa is recognized in hundreds of places around the world the next day.
Qaradawi has issued something in the order of 150 Fatwas, and some of these are particularly relevant to suicide bombers.
Suicide is really strictly forbidden within Islam. The Quran promises eternal hell for the person committing suicide. Killing innocent civilians is also forbidden within Islam. In Islamic theories of just war, we can find detailed instructions on just when civilian casualties are acceptable. This is restricted to situations where loss of civilian lives is an undesirable but unavoidable consequence of hitting military targets (e.g. civilians inside a military compound which is being stormed). It is, therefore, puzzling that organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizes and executes suicide operations against civilian Jews and, in addition, claim that the suicide bombers will reap particularly pleasant rewards for their deeds. To highlight the paradox in this situation it is worth stressing that these organizations are not run by rabid illiterates, but by well educated Islamists with an ideological basis in traditional, Islamic law. One of the main architects behind the ideology of suicide bombings is even a highly learned scholar with a doctor’s degree of Islamic law from the Al Azhar University of Cairo, namely Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Qaradawi has issued several Fatwas which
define all adult Jews living in
The rationale for considering all adult
Concerning the meaning of his saying that
Qaradawi’s Fatwas have had a pivotal role in furnishing world wide Muslim opinion
with a sense of theological justification for the Palestinian suicide bombings.
Two important Fatwas in this regard are: “Amalyat
Hamas Jihad Waqatalaha Shuhada”
(Hamas Operations are Jihad and those who die [in carrying them out] are
martyrs) and “El-amalijat al-istishadiya
a’zam suwar al-jihad”
(Martyr operations are the highest form of Jihad). A comprehensive explanation
of Qaradawi’s theological legitimization of suicide
bombings can also be found in a report in the London-based newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat of July 19th
2003, as well as in the Conference Report from the European Council of Fatwa
and Research’s meeting in
to the local arena in
At any rate, it is quite thought provoking (to use a careful expression) that a Norwegian Muslim leader close ranks with Muslim leaders world wide in giving moral support and religious legitimacy to Palestinians blowing up Jewish civilians as well as themselves, all for the purpose of liberating Jerusalem and Israel from “Zionist occupation”. Simultaneously it is extremely frustrating that Islamsk Råd Norge (The Islamic Council of Norway), an umbrella organization for 25 Norwegian, Muslim member organizations, refuses to distance itself from Ghozlan’s public statements on the issue. This causes a rather troubled situation in which Norwegian politicians face some tough dilemmas concerning the limits of the freedoms of religion and expression. Our Secretary of Justice, Odd Einar Dørum, carries a heavy responsibility here.
Ghozlan’s support of suicide bombers is a warning as well as a forceful reminder of some extremely difficult problems related to Norway’s impoverished means of coping with radical Islamist elements in a rapidly growing Muslim population. Until further these problems can be freely debated and handled democratically. Yet we see that the debate over these issues is consistently choked for fear that it might stigmatize Muslims and obstruct integration, and a clammy hand of self-censorship and political correctness is still largely suppressing an open discussion about Islam in our society(*). Consequently, the most fundamental of democratic processes, a free and truth-seeking debate, is severely obstructed with regard to an issue which is commonly recognized as the single greatest challenge to our society, nation and civilization as a whole. It is a fair assumption that such a debate, if it ever comes, will not present us with quick and easy answers. But we can be certain that suppressing problems will not take us anywhere.
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* This was largely true in January of 2005. No longer so. Not only did the year 2005 see HonestThinking achieve some groundbreaking results with respect to tearing down the “wall of silence” surrounding the entire immigration/integration/Islam-issue (for which we received the predictable garbage pail of verbal abuse). But the Muhammed cartoon-crisis at the break of 2006, however unfortunate, brought about the positive result of opening the Norwegian media to an hitherto unseen degree of public debating over Islam. Nowadays there hardly passes a day without an op. ed., feature article, reader’s letter, or the equivalent, delivering thought provoking news and analysis with respect to Islam-related topics. The times they are indeed a-changing!