Malaysia Clerics: 'Muslims Obliged To Defend Afghans'

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:10 PM EDT

Pacific Rim Bureau ( - Clerics in Malaysia have urged the country's Muslims to wage jihad (holy war) to defend their fellow Muslims in Afghanistan or anywhere else where Muslims are under attack from the enemies of Islam.

All Muslims were obliged to participate in the jihad physically or by contributing financially, Abdul Ghani Samsudin, head of the Ulema Association of Malaysia, said Sunday at the end of a conference to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

"Jihad in the form of sacrificing one's life or material is required of all Muslims," he said.

The special one-day conference to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan came as U.S. Marines and Afghan opposition groups prepared for a possible assault on Kandahar, the remaining stronghold of the Taliban militia.

The government in predominantly Muslim Malaysia has taken a firm stance against the U.S. war against the Taliban and its allies in al-Qaida, the terror network blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks.

While condemning the attacks on New York and Washington, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the retaliatory military action was counter-productive and would harm innocent Afghans.

At their meeting, the Malaysian clerics also declared that any support for the U.S., whether direct or indirect, was forbidden ("haram") for Muslims, and said the Malaysian government must not prevent anti-U.S. protests.

Other resolutions taken by the association called for an end to the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan and withdrawal of foreign troops, and a boycott of American products.

Abdul Ghani said the scholars also voiced sorrow about the loss of life, both in the terror attacks on the U.S. as well as in Afghanistan.

The clerics said they wanted the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to condemn the U.S. attacks and to provide aid to the Afghans. Malaysia is a member of both bodies.

The OIC should hold a special session on Afghanistan, and protest against American threats to attack other Muslim countries "'in the guise [of] combating terrorism," they added.

There has been growing speculation in recent weeks that the U.S. may target Iraq next in its campaign against international terrorism. Other countries understood to concern Washington, according to numerous U.S. media reports, include Somalia, Yemen and the southern Philippines.

Egypt and Jordan, which have given nominal support for the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, have both expressed concern about any plan to attack Iraq.

Syria said that an attack on Iraq or any other Arab country would spell the end of Arab backing for the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism. The Arab League gave a similar warning last week.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow