November 8th 2014

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL Gough Whitlam's tainted legacy

VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION Three minor parties pledge to defend Judeo-Christian values

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Same-sex 'marriage' being forced upon U.S. ministers of religion

CYBER-ESPIONAGE Massive cyber-attacks on human rights website

RURAL AFFAIRS What future is there for Australian farming?

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS Small business the casualty of misguided 'competition' policy

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM The bizarre North American campaign against Christianity

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Africa's Ebola tragedy: the straight facts

MIDDLE EAST Israel, Jordan: islands of stability in the Middle East

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Muslim religious leaders denounce 'Islamic State'

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Russian ambitions go far beyond Ukraine


CINEMA Fighting in the shadows with honour

BOOK REVIEW On the art of governing

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Muslim religious leaders denounce 'Islamic State'

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, November 8, 2014

In response to the barbarous conduct of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and its online recruitment of Islamists in the West, a large group of Muslim clerics have issued a joint statement which repudiates the religious basis on which IS operates.

The 126 Islamic scholars and community leaders come from the Sunni branch of Islam, the same branch as IS. They come from an extensive range of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, India, Kosovo and various Western countries.

Their Open Letter, written in both Arabic and English, is addressed to the self-styled head of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and to IS fighters and supporters.

It quotes extensively from the Quran and the Hadith, the latter being scholarly interpretations of the teachings and deeds of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.

The 17-page document says, “Everything said here below relies completely upon the statements and actions of followers of the ‘Islamic State’ as they themselves have promulgated [them] in social media — or upon Muslim eyewitness accounts — and not upon other media.”

It adds, “Every effort has been made to avoid fabrications and misunderstandings [of IS]. Moreover, everything said here consists of synopses written in a simple style that reflect the opinions of the overwhelming majority of Sunni scholars over the course of Islamic history.”

The authors accuse al-Baghdadi in particular, and IS in general, of selectively and wrongly quoting the Quran and Hadiths to support their own political and ideological agenda.

They suggest that IS has either deliberately or through ignorance misrepresented the teachings of the prophet Mohammed, and set out to correct these erroneous interpretations. Their analysis will be of importance not only in the Middle East, but also in the West where IS has been actively recruiting.

Their summary is set out below. Some of the statements will be offensive to Western eyes, but all of them represent a total repudiation of the ideology of IS.

1) It is forbidden in Islam to issue fatwas without all the necessary learning requirements. Even then fatwas must follow Islamic legal theory as defined in the classical texts. It is also forbidden to cite a portion of a verse from the Quran or part of a verse to derive a ruling without looking at everything that the Quran and Hadith teach related to that matter. In other words, there are strict subjective and objective prerequisites for fatwas, and one cannot “cherry-pick” Quranic verses for legal arguments without considering the entire Quran and Hadith.

2) It is forbidden in Islam to issue legal rulings about anything without mastery of the Arabic language.

3) It is forbidden in Islam to oversimplify Sharia matters and ignore established Islamic sciences.

4) It is permissible in Islam [for scholars] to differ on any matter, except those fundamentals of religion that all Muslims must know.

5) It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings.

6) It is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent.

7) It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers.

8) Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.

9) It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslim unless he (or she) openly declares disbelief.

10) It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat — in any way — Christians or any “People of the Scripture”.

11) It is obligatory to consider Yazidis as People of the Scripture.

12) The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus.

13) It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert.

14) It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights.

15) It is forbidden in Islam to deny children their rights.

16) It is forbidden in Islam to enact legal punishments (hudud) without following the correct procedures that ensure justice and mercy.

17) It is forbidden in Islam to torture people.

18) It is forbidden in Islam to disfigure the dead.

19) It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God.

20) It is forbidden in Islam to destroy the graves and shrines of Prophets and Companions.

21) Armed insurrection is forbidden in Islam for any reason other than clear disbelief by the ruler and not allowing people to pray.

22) It is forbidden in Islam to declare a caliphate without consensus from all Muslims.

23) Loyalty to one’s nation is permissible in Islam.

24) After the death of the Prophet, Islam does not require anyone to emigrate anywhere.

The statement of the Islamic scholars will not, of itself, end the challenge by IS extremists. But it represents an articulate and coherent response to IS ideology, based on Islamic texts.

As such, it may have the effect of empowering Muslim communities around the world to forcefully engage the Islamist ideology which has caused such terrible suffering — particularly in the Islamic world.

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