ISLAMABAD -- Suicide attacks, insurgency against the state and any kind of terrorist activity in the name of Sharia are haram (strictly forbidden) in Islam, a group of Pakistani religious scholars declared Saturday (May 27) in Islamabad.
Thirty-one religious scholars from different schools of thought unanimously signed the fatwa during a seminar organised by the Islamic Research Institute of the International Islamic University, Islamabad.
Mufti Rafi Usmani read out the 22-point fatwa, which condemns suicide bombings and all kinds of terrorism as haram and terms those involved in these acts as traitors.
Using violence in the name of "jihad" is not Islamic, according to the fatwa.
It also fully supports the Pakistan army's Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, launched in June 2014 and February 2017 respectively in various parts of the country to target militants and restore peace.
The religious scholars who signed the fatwa include the following: Usmani, Maulana Hamid ul Haq (son of Maulana Sami ul Haq), Mufti Muhammad Muneeb-ur-Rehman, Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari, Maulana Abdul Razzaq, Mufti Muhammad Naeem, Allama Syed Riaz Hussain Rizvi, Maulana Muhammad Yasin Zafar, Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Sialvi, Sahibzada Maulana Zahid Mehmood Qasmi and Mahmood-ul-Hassan Shah Masoodi.
The Islamic scholars also approved a unanimous declaration called the "Paigham-e-Pakistan" (Message of Pakistan).
The declaration, read by International Islamic University Rector Prof. Masoom Yasinzai, asks for action against all forces fanning extremism, for the true implementation of the law for dealing with blasphemy and for discouragement of mob "justice".
Turning youth away from militancy
Addressing the seminar, President Mamnoon Hussain called the declaration a "historic step".
"We had been trying to persuade religious scholars to give the people a narrative against terrorism and extremism, but the good thing is that the International Islamic University took the lead in this regard," he said.
A counter-narrative needs to be built to negate the narratives of extremism, hate and terrorism and to promote peace, harmony and respect for others, he said.
"Being Muslims, we aspire for peace in the whole world and desire progress, prosperity and welfare for all of humanity," Hussain said.
Religious scholars and analysts are hopeful the fatwa will help discourage youth and other vulnerable sectors of society from turning towards militancy.
"Killing anyone is the greatest sin in Islam, and those using the name of religion for violence are damaging our religion," said Maulana Asad Ullah, a seminary teacher in Peshawar.
"The holy Prophet (PBUH) forgave all his enemies when Muslims conquered Makkah," he told Pakistan Forward. "This is what Islam teaches: peace and love for all."
"The Deobandi support base will definitely listen to this decree and will oppose terrorism," Marvi Sirmed, an Islamabad political analyst and civil rights activist, told Pakistan Forward.
Pakistan has been suffering from violence for 17 long years, and the new generation of militants is even more ruthless than its predecessor, she said.
Previous fatwas against terrorism
Several Pakistani religious scholars have issued fatwas against terrorism and acts of violence in the past.
Pakistani Islamic scholar Maulana Hassan Jan Madani, for example, was known for his moderate views of Islam and for his fatwas against suicide bombing.
He was assassinated near Peshawar on September 17, 2007, some suspect, for spreading those views in Peshawar mosques and Islamic universities.
Another religious scholar and politician, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, has consistently vocally opposed terrorism.
In March 2010, he issued a detailed 600-page fatwa in which he termed all kinds of terrorism, including suicide attacks, targeted killings and attacks on local and foreign security forces, haram.
The fatwa demonstrates from the Koran and Sunnah that terrorism and suicide bombings are unjust and evil, and therefore un-Islamic.
"Scores of Qur'anic verses and prophetic traditions prove that terrorism is unlawful in Islam," Qadri wrote in his fatwa.