I have been compelled to issue a fatwa - a comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism - because of what has been happening in Pakistan over the past year. Terrorists are bombing mosques during Friday prayers, they are burning schools, killing women. They are digging bodies out of graves, cutting off their heads and hanging the bodies from trees.
My 600-page fatwa is based on all four schools of jurisprudence: Hanafi, Shafii, Hanbali and Maliki, and the Shia school of Jafari. I have consulted hundreds of classical Islamic texts, the scholars, fiqh and the Hadith. The main theme is this: any act of terrorism such as suicide bombing cannot be justified in any way. There are no conditions, no pretexts or exemptions. It is condemned by the Quran and the Sunna.
Killing Muslims and non-Muslims through terrorist activities and using violent aggression to impose their mistaken and misplaced ideology is a fundamental rejection of faith. Such acts make the people carrying out the attacks unbelievers, or kufr. Some scholars have said to me that we know suicide bombing is forbidden but to say that this is an act of an unbeliever is going far. I am not saying anyone who kills is an unbeliever. I say one who is committing acts of terrorism on the basis that it is sanctioned and lawful by Islam is an unbeliever.
The Quran says those who kill in mosques, burn people, blow them up, they will suffer the torments of hellfire. This is one aspect. A second aspect I have examined is the justification that Muslim rulers in Arab countries or non-Muslims are not enforcing Islamic law so there is an obligation to fight against them. This is absolutely wrong. In no context is any organisation allowed to take up arms on their own and say we are defending Muslim land or we are avenging the aggression of non-Muslim powers. This is a matter for a state and its government.
The holy Prophet Mohammed told his companions that bad rulers would come and the people would curse them and the rulers would curse their people. The companions asked should they not fight them with swords if this time comes? And the holy Prophet said that no, they were not allowed as far as they were Muslims. As for adopting the defence that the attacks are against foreign aggression, this is the privilege and responsibility of the state to stand up and to fight according to international law. If groups and individuals start taking revenge it will create global anarchy and there will be no rule of law, there will be just killing of mankind.
There is a prophecy of the Prophet Mohammed. He mentioned that the Kharijites would emerge continuously in Islamic history. The Kharijites believed that whoever did not agree with their philosophy was an unbeliever and should be killed. They wanted to resolve everything through the sword and through power. They rose up in the time of the rightly guided Caliphs, Usman and Ali, and fought against them.
This hadith, which appears in dozens of books, says the holy Prophet Mohammed said they would emerge again and again in different centuries until the final time of the anti-Christ. They would arrive more than 20 times. They would keep changing names and appear for the last time as part of the anti-Christ's army. They would slaughter people. Al Qa'eda is an old evil with a new name. They are the Kharijites with a new name. They are misguided today like the Khawarij youth were misguided at that time. They were brainwashed although they were religious people who prayed and fasted.
Those who have already decided to become suicide bombers are totally brainwashed. I exclude them from this discussion because they are blind. I am trying to reach the majority who have not reached that stage but have extremist tendencies and are proceeding in that direction. There are thousands of extremists running websites and applying misguided ideas. The radicals who have no access to classical authorities are misguided and give the wrong concept of jihad. This religious ruling is particularly important for Britain and the western world, where the majority of Muslims are of south Asian origin. We have seen examples of extremist groups targeting vulnerable young people from these communities to carry out their acts of violence - from training them as suicide bombers to brainwashing students across British universities. I am sure that the hundreds of authorities I have quoted will allow them to rethink, to see that whatever they were taught was wrong.
The fatwa has appeared in Urdu, and English and Arabic translations have been started. It will be translated into many other languages and distributed through the internet accompanied by videos, summaries and talks. We will do whatever is possible to reach the youth with the Almighty Allah's help and grace. Already it is happening. We have been contacted by the Afghan president Hamid Karzai's office and they want a copy to translate into Persian and Pashto. And so it will go.
There have been many other fatwas that condemn suicide bombings and there have been verbal resolutions against it. They were very brief, maybe one or two pages signed by hundreds of scholars and they did not contain many references. These brief declarations were not able to answer the questions or address all the concerns. I thought there was a need to address every major concern, every major and minor aspect which has already been planted in people's minds.
In Pakistan, some religious scholars have condemned the military action in the Swat valley and North-West Frontier Province, or they have said they already have condemned suicide bombings and acts of terrorism. Some have felt they have fulfilled their duty. But by simply condemning the Pakistani military action or staying silent they are creating doubt in the minds of the common people and youth. While Muslims resist and fight terrorism and are not ready to accept its remotest possible link with Islam, there are some who are also seen supporting it. Instead of opposing and condemning it openly they confuse the issue.
After this fatwa more scholars will become courageous and stand up. A few are scared. A friend of mine who recently condemned suicide bombing in Pakistan was assassinated. This grand fatwa, when it is in the hands of everybody, will give people courage, clarity and motivation. Dr Tahir ul Qadri is the founding leader of Minhaj ul Quran, established in 1981 with headquarters in Lahore. www.minhaj.org