December 4, 2001 Special Dispatch No. 307

Dean of Islamic Law, Qatar University: The fight against terrorism must begin with curricular, educational, and media reform in the Arab world

December 4, 2001
Qatar, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 307

Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, dean of the Faculty of Islamic Law at the University of Qatar, wrote in the London basedArabic-language daily Al-Hayat:

"[Arab] ideological, political, and religious positions on current events remind us of a crucial incident in Islamic history that is connected to the present. I refer to the Khawarij, the 'first terrorist organization,' that rose up against the imam Ali,[1] claiming that his rule was man-chosen, and that no [Muslim] rule should be obeyed unless it was the rule of Allah. [The Khawarij demanded] that Ali either mend his ways or face war. From this, they moved on to accusing the entire society of heresy. They saw anyone with an opinion different from theirs, and anyone who was silent and refrained from joining them, as a heretic; as a result, they permitted the blood of Muslims…"

"The imam Ali and his friends did not hesitate to meet them head-on… He did not clarify his ideas with false explanations, and did not invent deceitful formulas, but fought the Khawarij and thoroughly routed them at Al-Naharwan, in the 37th year of the Hijra [659]."

"But today, we are facing the modern Khawarij, and behold, fortune has smiled on them. They have satellite channels that espouse their ideas, reiterating them tirelessly day and night, and that makes them into popular stars. Host commentators justify and shape their ideas. Religious leaders volunteer to issue religious rulings demanding [that believers] stand by them, and determine that remaining silent or refraining from supporting them is a sin."

"[These religious leaders] call for Jihad against the crusade against Islam, and aspire to incite the Arab public against its governments, who stand by America, the enemy of Islam. Most unfortunately, there are those who believe in this deception, hold demonstrations, and become involved in acts of stupidity against [those] whom they call the enemies of Islam. As a result, they are destroyed, and their families are tragedy-stricken. Afterwards, we allow the imams, who pushed them to the edge of the precipice, to continue to live a life of ease, without being held accountable in any way!!"

"The religious and logical question is: Jihad against whom? For whose sake? Who has the right [to declare a Jihad]? Will we leave the Jihad to the hysterical preachers and politicians, who are declaring a war that will destroy everything, or is this a right reserved for the ruler?"

"Do they have the right to incite the public to become involved in acts of sabotage, that victimize innocents and damage state interests? Or should this right be restricted, so that the public interest is unharmed?"

"Who gave the religious parties the right to declare a Jihad and jeopardize the supreme interests of the nation? The Saudi clerics fulfilled their duty by declaring that no one had the right to issue a religious ruling calling for Jihad except the ruler. This is what they taught us, and thus we teach. The clerics must act accordingly…"

"Do the satellite channels have the right to broadcast terrorist opinions and incitement on the pretext of the 'principle of freedom for all,' disseminating hatred in the [hearts of] the viewers, who then [carry out] harmful acts of stupidity? Or must the regime intervene and set limits on irresponsible freedoms?"

"There is a big difference between granting freedom of speech for people who have opposing political opinions [and express them] peacefully… and between leaving the microphones to [be used by] armed groups that commit murder to advance their ideas… The essential question is: Do they have the right, in the name of freedom, to lead us and their societies over the edge of the precipice?"

"As a result of this false incitement, 83% of the participants in a survey on the Internet site of the Al-Jazeera satellite channel think that bin Laden is a Jihad fighter, not a terrorist, and that his incitement against Western and American interests constitutes a Jihad…"

"What is the meaning of all this sympathy for, and defense of, our modern-day Khawarij? Is blind anti-American sentiment… enough to account for making terrorists into heroes?"

"Unfortunately for the Khawarij of the past, they had no satellite channels… even though they were more merciful than the Khawarij of our generation, as they permitted the blood of Muslims but not of the 'dhimmis' [Jews and Christians], because they wanted to preserve the protection pact given to them. In contrast to them, (the Khawarij of our time – meaning the militant Islamists) have permitted the blood of everyone…"

"The platforms of the various Jihad organizations, and of Al-Qa'ida, do not include fighting Israel. The ideology of all these organizations establishes a single goal: accusing society and the state of heresy, with the aim of reaching power to set up their false state. When they despaired of their series of criminal acts on Arab land, which have claimed hundreds of victims, Satan told them that the Arab regimes were a product of the West. America, they claimed, was the defender of these regimes. They decided to fight America on its home turf, so America would leave Arab lands, thus enabling them to disseminate their corruption."

"What are the reasons for the phenomenon of terrorism? In my opinion, the human soul, and primarily the Muslim soul, is repelled by terrorism. But terrorist ideas fall on fertile ground when societies are ruled by a fanatic culture that the people absorb in doses. Opponents are blamed of religious heresy; opposition is blamed of political treason. This is a culture of terrorism, which is [easily] absorbed by those who have been exposed to inappropriate education. This culture is rooted in the minds of those who suffered from a closed education that leaves no room for pluralism."

"We must examine our curriculum, and evaluate our educational methods. We must reexamine our education and our media. This will be the right beginning for the fight against the culture of terrorism."[2]

[1]Ali Ibn Abu Talib was the fourth of the "replacements" (Khulafaa) who followed the Prophet Muhammad.

[2] Al-Hayat (London), November 29, 2001.

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