When it comes to Muslim participation in the U.S. war against terror, some prominent Islamic scholars sound ambivalent or downright hostile. In recent years, rulings on the issue have been posted on the website of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), which offers online responses to public questions about Islamic law.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that Khatem al-Hajj, an Egyptian cleric living in Minnesota, recently answered a question from a man wanting to know whether it was permissible for a Muslim to enlist in the U.S. Navy. The questioner asked if enlistment might be considered "loyalty to the infidels and leaving the fold [of Islam.]"
Al-Hajj responded by referring the questioner to a detailed document he drew up for the fifth annual AMJA convention held in Bahrain in November 2007. The document outlined arguments for and against Muslims serving on the police force. Problems included the fact that serving on the police force constitutes "aid to perpetrators of crimes and aggression." Most who seek to join Western police forces "do not stand up for truth or help the oppressed," al-Hajj added.
MEMRI noted that permanent members of the AMJA website's fatwa committee "avoided giving a clear-cut answer to a question posed by a Muslim living in the U.S. regarding cooperating with the U.S. war effort."
The Muslim questioner asked if a Muslim who owns a moving company "permitted to transport supplies from the distributor's warehouse to the port, knowing that the supplies are to be sent to soldiers operating in Islamic countries as part of NATO forces?"
Fatwa committee members avoided giving a direct answer, offering only general guidelines about what to do. The response included wording like this:
"If someone commits a crime and conspires against [Muslims], you must not abet him anywhere on earth, whether he is a civilian or belongs to the military, and regardless of his national or religious affiliation. In the days of the Prophet , the Muslims who emigrated to Ethiopia helped the Ethiopian king and fought by his side against his [non-Muslim] enemies. On the basis of this principle and its implementation in the days of the Prophet, one may glean the answer."
MEMRI sums up al-Hajj's conclusions about Muslim participation in American law enforcement and and security services this wa:y "It is forbidden to work for the FBI or for U.S. security services because these harm Muslims; furthermore, working for these bodies involves spying on Muslims."
Muslims are permitted to work in agencies charged with fighting drugs, alcohol and guns and preserving the public order. Regarding city and state police, Al-Hajj stated that "there is some fear that a Muslim who works for these bodies could be forced to arrest a Muslim because of false complaints, and thus each situation must be examined individually and carefully."