John Kerry has hailed this as a sign of the emergence of the “real Islam” he wants to fight against the Islamic State. Over at Atlas Shrugs I discuss what is really behind this fatwa:
It is a popular aspect of media mythmaking about the Islamic State that it is so extreme that even other “extremists” such as al-Qaeda shun and repudiate it. But this claim, like the many declarations by both Muslim and non-Muslim leaders that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam, is always left unexplained and unsupported.
This Saudi fatwa against terrorism is yet another example of this. The credulous and ignorant will wax enthusiastic over this display of Saudi “moderation,” but in reality — yet again — the closer one looks, the less there is to see. Comments interspersed below:
“In anti-terror edict, top Saudi clerics say perpetrators should be punished under Islamic law,” Associated Press, September 17, 2014:
Saudi Arabia’s highest body of religious scholars issued a stern ruling on Wednesday calling terrorism a “heinous crime” and saying perpetrators including Islamic State militants deserve punishment in line with Islamic law.
The Council of Senior Religious Scholars said in its fatwa, or religious edict, that it backs the kingdom’s efforts to track down and punish followers of the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.
The House of Saud is in trouble. They’ve spent billions to propagate worldwide the view of Islam held by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. They perhaps never envisioned the prospect of a caliphate practically on their doorstep, and challenging their own legitimacy: the monster they created is returning to haunt them, and they know that if they join any military action against the Islamic State, they could face an uprising at home from young Muslims who have imbibed the understanding of Islam that they have so energetically taught. Hence this fatwa: they hope to delegitimize now what they have spent billions to legitimize, and convince their own people that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam and must be rejected.
AP, as biased as it is, seems aware that this is the point of this fatwa: to preserve the Saudi monarchy.
The clerics are appointed by the government and are seen as guardians of the kingdom’s ultraconservative Wahhabi school of Islam. The statement by the group of 21 scholars underpins the kingdom’s broader efforts to deter citizens from joining extremist groups that want to bring down the Western-allied monarchy.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Saudi Arabia last week and won support from the kingdom and other Arab allies to help fight the Islamic State militants who have seized large parts of Iraq and Syria. A State Department official told reporters ahead of the visit that Kerry planned to ask Mideast countries to encourage government-controlled media and members of the religious establishment to speak out against extremism.
How ironic: the understanding of Islam that Saudis have worked so hard to spread throughout the world is now “extremism.”
The edict highlights the historically close relationship between the Wahhabi establishment in Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s rulers, and gives religious backing to the Saudi king’s efforts to fight the Islamic State as part of an international coalition. The council is the only official authority in Saudi Arabia allowed to issue religious edicts concerning questions about how citizens should live their lives
The council’s condemnations extended to others the Saudi government opposes as well, including the Shiite Hawthi rebel group in Yemen and Saudi Hezbollah, a Shiite militant movement that was engaged in attacks in the kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s. It also criticized what it called “crimes of terrorism practiced by the Israeli occupation.”
It sounds as if this is the Saudi Islamic scholars’ version of the hit on the Five Families. But note the hypocrisy: the Saudis are against the jihad terrorism of the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Hizballah, but also against the foremost target of the global jihad, Israel — which shows that they’re not really against jihad terror at all.
The scholars said authorities have to track down instigators of conflict and financiers of terrorism because they commit “one of the greatest sins” which is “disobeying the ruler”. They said they support the government’s decision to prohibit citizens from fighting in conflicts abroad.
“One of the greatest sins…disobeying the ruler.” This essentially makes it explicit: this is all about preserving the House of Saud, not about genuinely rejecting terrorism.
Though the council did not recommend specific punishments, it is considered a religious sin and a criminal act in Saudi Arabia to rebel against the king, who oversees Islam’s two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina.
To help back up its religious ruling, the council referred to words of the Prophet Muhammad, who warned against following those who want to divide the nation.
But the Islamic State doesn’t want to “divide” Saudi Arabia. It wants to incorporate all of it into the Islamic State.
“This is a warning to the advocates of division, strife and sedition, and a warning to those who followed them from going too far in order to avoid the punishment of torment in this world and the hereafter,” the statement said.
The scholars added that any Muslim who thinks jihad — or striving in the path of God — means joining a terrorist group “is ignorant and has gone astray”.
These scholars, remember, are in the country that for years has been the chief financier of jihad terrorism worldwide.
The Saudi king earlier this year called on scholars to speak out more aggressively against terrorism. Shortly afterward, the head of the council and grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik, described the Islamic State and al-Qaida as Islam’s top enemies.
“Islam” in that case means “Saudi Arabia.”
All of the groups mentioned in the clerical statement were branded “terrorist” organizations by the Saudi government this year. Notably absent from the council’s list is the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi authorities have outlawed and also branded as terrorist.
Interesting omission. The Brotherhood also has significant support in Saudi Arabia, but it doesn’t pose a threat to the Saudi state at the moment. Thus there is no need to mention it and risk angering even more of the population than this present declaration will rile up.
This story gives more detail: “Wrong to equate terrorism with jihad – Scholars,” Saudi Gazette:
RIYADH – Terrorism is a heinous crime and its perpetrators deserve deterrent punishment, said the Saudi Scholars Commission and Ifta Council in a statement here on Wednesday.
It said terrorism, which is rejected by Shariah, is contradictory to the principles and purpose of Islam, which came as a mercy to the world and for the goodness of mankind.
Saudi Arabia is, of course, a Sharia state. It regularly practices beheadings, amputations, and the like. It subjugates and oppresses women. This is what the Saudi Scholars Commission and Ifta Council means by a “mercy to the world.” When they condemn “terrorism,” they don’t mean by the word what most Americans think of. They mean “anything that threatens the Saudi state.”
Tolerance is the essence of Islam, which came to maintain coexistence and peace on earth, the senior Ulema (Islamic scholars) said at the conclusion of the Council’s 80th session.
Tolerance? Remember: these apostles of Islamic tolerance believe that someone who has a Bible or a crucifix deserves arrest, imprisonment, and deportation or death.
They said that those who equate terrorism with jihad are misled and ignorant.
“Terrorism has nothing to do with jihad, and Islam rejects the deviant thought which causes bloodshed,” the statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency said.
Except, that is, for the blood of apostates, heretics, adulterers, and all the others whose blood is called for under Sharia.
It described terrorism as any crime aimed at corrupting and undermining security, offenses against lives or property, homes, schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, state facilities or oil and gas pipelines, or blowing up or hijacking aeroplanes.
And yet they condemn Israel, even though Hamas jihadists target Israeli lives and property, homes, schools, etc. What they really mean here is that terrorism involves offenses against Muslim lives and property.
The statement said that groups like ‘Daash’ (the self-proclaimed Islamic State), Al-Qaeda, the so-called Ahl Al-Haq groups, Hezbollah and the Houthis are forbidden and criminalized as are the acts of terror perpetrated by the Israeli occupation.
The scholars supported the measures taken by the authorities against those belonging to the above mentioned terrorist groups or those having foreign political allegiance.
Signed by all 21 members of the council and quoting extensively from the Holy Qur’an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the statement also prohibits militant financing or encouraging young people to engage in militant acts.
Again: these are the people who have spent decades “encouraging young people to engage in militant acts.”
It said people who issued fatwas or views that “justify terrorism” were not permissable in any way and were “the order of Satan.”
The council urged everyone to utilize all means to strengthen unity and cohesion.
That is, utilize all means to strengthen the House of Saud.
It warned against deviant intellectual trends and prohibited citizens from going abroad to areas of conflict and strife since that would amount to disobedience to the pledge of allegiance to the ruler.
The scholars advised everyone to adhere to the right path based on the Holy Qur’an and Prophet’s Sunnah according to the understanding of the righteous ancestors and whoever follows them. They emphasized the need to support the leadership of the Kingdom and its scholars.
That is what this is all about: supporting the leadership of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom’s Grand Mufti, who heads the Scholars Commission and Ifta Council, has already described militants of the so-called Islamic State and Al-Qaeda as Islam’s foremost enemy in a series of public comments in recent weeks.
That is, the House of Saud’s foremost enemy.