American Muslim Group Condemns Terrorism

By Monisha Bansal | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which one frequent critic alleges is "radical to the core," Thursday announced a fatwa, or Islamic religious law, condemning terrorism. The edict was actually issued by the North American Fiqh Council.

"For years we have been explaining the reasons that Islam opposes violence against civilians and bemoaning the lack of coverage of the official denunciations of such acts of violence as the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, issued by countless Muslim organizations," said Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute and a participant at Thursday's news conference sponsored by CAIR.

"We can only pray that this fatwa issued by a body of recognized scholars in the West will make it clear that Islam is opposed to terrorism," he added.

"Having our religious fathers stand side by side with community leaders leaves no room for anybody to suggest that Islam and Muslims condone or support any act of terrorism," said Esam Omeish, president of the Muslim American Society.

The fatwa follows similar declarations by Muslims in Great Britain and Canada and is endorsed by 130 Muslim organizations.

The fatwa states that all acts of terrorism targeting civilians are forbidden in Islam, as is cooperating with an individual or group involved in terrorism. It also stipulates that it is the "civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians."

Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said extremists create cults, and that the fatwa represents "the mainstream, moderate voice of Muslim Americans and Muslims worldwide, as opposed to extremist forgery of Islam by radicals."

Muzammil H. Siddiqi, a member of the Fiqh Council of North America, added that "there is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting a civilian life through a suicide bomber, or any other method, is haram -- forbidden in Islam. Those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals not martyrs."

The Council for American-Islamic Relations has frequently been at odds with Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, who has dismissed the notion that CAIR advocates moderation and non-violence.

"CAIR is particularly worrisome because it claims to be nothing but a mild public affairs organization promoting 'interest and understanding among the general public with regards to Islam and Muslims in North America,' and is widely seen as such. In fact, it is radical to the core," Pipes has previously written on his website.

In his commentary, Pipes added that "CAIR represents not the great civilization of Islam but a radical utopian movement originating in the Middle East that seeks to impose its ways on the United States.

"Americans should consider themselves warned," Pipes wrote. "[A] new danger exists in their midst."

Thursday, in response to the fatwa issued by the North American Fiqh Council, Pipes said it "doesn't improve things. It just provides more obfuscations, distractions and abstractions."

See Related Story:
Group Authoring Fatwa Has Links to Bin Laden Ally (July 29, 2005)

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