Monday, 29 January 2007

Whats in A Fatwa?

Thomas Friedman another 'New York Times Best-selling author' and much admired columnist has made a lucrative career out of being an "expert" on the Middle-East. But for someone who is supposed to be a pundit on matters Islamic, he seems to display a curious ignorance of newsworthy middle-eastern goings-on. In an article in the New York Times, back in July 2005 he fumed "To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden."

This is an often-heard theme, repeated time and time again. From atop his marvellously hypocritical high-horse Dan Simmons thundered on this very same theme when calling for religious genocide:
Most of the world, especially since 9/11, has been waiting for a rousing and unqualified renouncement of suicide bombings, jihad, persecution of infidels, fatwas, honor killings, and other Muslim atrocities from the silent majority of Muslim clerics and devout Muslims.

Now Dan Simmons' fulminations may be, well if not excused, at least absolved of the expectation of intelligence given that his understanding of life, the universe and everything is based primarily on the neo-librel or neo-fascist writings of chest-thumping, arm-chair, poli-sci majors who know neither history, nor journalism, nor indeed reality outside the confines of their dens. However, Thomas Friedman's bald lies really should be seen in a much more serious light. After all, as the most renowned writer in the best-selling AND most respected newspaper in the United States he has a duty to at least know what he is writing about. Alas this proves not to be the case.

Juan Cole provided a very good round-up of some of the major Muslim clerics who have issued rulings about Osama bin Laden. I suppose its difficult for many people to figure out the value or importance of these fatwas. But some of them are from some very major figures. What was interesting was the statement declaring that all 8 schools of Islamic jurisprudence are equally 'Islamic' and that none have the right to declare adherents to any other as unIslamic. That's a major step in the right direction. The only problem is that it doesn't go far enough in my opinion... what about Qadiyanis or others who might not fall inside the 8 schools?


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