One of Great Britain's leading Muslim scholars announced Tuesday that he is issuing a religious ruling (fatwa) condemning terrorism and suicide bombings. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a leading scholar of Sufism (an Islamic tradition focused on peace and tolerance) unequivocally denounced violence before an audience that included British Muslims, members of Parliament, clergy, police and other security officials.
Qadri, author of more than 300 books on Islam, said suicide bombings can never be considered genuine "martyrdom operations" and their perpetrators are not "heroes of the Muslim Umma (nation)."
"No, they become heroes of hellfire and their act is never, ever to be considered jihad," Qadri said. "Whatever those terrorists are doing, it's not martyrdom."
Qadri said his fatwa outlaws suicide bombings "without any excuses, any pretexts, or exceptions." The Quilliam Foundation, the British research organization that sponsored Qadri's speech, called his fatwa "arguably the most comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism to date."
Qadri, a native of Pakistan, said he decided to issue the fatwa in response to reports on the radicalization of British Muslims - many of Pakistani descent - on university campuses. He said he was also troubled by the failure of Muslim clerics and scholars to condemn radicalism.
American Islamist organizations have issued their own fatwa, yet they cannot bring themselves to condemn those who orchestrate violence Qadri calls unjustifiable. If their fatwa is sincere, they should have no difficulty embracing the more sweeping repudiation unveiled Tuesday.