7th October 2001
A special meeting of imams (leaders) and ulama (scholars) called by The Muslim Council of Britain restated their absolute condemnation of the atrocities of 11 September in the USA and also warned against any ‘war on terrorism’ leading to loss of life of innocent people. The meeting emphasised that Muslims in Britain must remain faithful to and firm in their adherence to Islamic values. The path of Islam is the balanced and middle path, dealing with others in a spirit of courtesy and rational discourse. Consequently British Muslims uphold justice, honour their ‘social contract’, state differences of opinion with government policy openly and in a measured tone, and do not indulge in any criminal or subversive activity whether against people or property.
The meeting also condemned the use of threats of war and intimidation against a whole people merely on the basis of suspicion of a single individual or a group for complicity in committing atrocities. Evidence must be presented and commonly accepted judicial processes should be followed. An attack on Afghanistan, or the stoking of civil war would be a criminal act against humanity even if it is justified as ‘minimal loss of life’ or as part of ‘unavoidable collateral damage’. Threats of war have already caused hundreds of thousands of innocent people to flee for their lives and be uprooted from their homes, compounding the misery and suffering of the Afghan people.
The meeting stressed that Muslims living in Britain or indeed Muslims living as ‘minorities’ in any state, have rights and obligations like other citizens and must honour their ‘social contract’. They have a duty to work for peace, stability and the common good of all. Any person or group of persons who may be incensed by the unjust actions of their government must not be tempted to indulge in any criminal or subversive activity whether against people or property. They have a duty to discuss, debate and even challenge government to alter their policies to conform to just and ethical principles both at home and abroad. All this is part of the citizen’s social contract with his or her country.
The meeting however recognised that Islamic values are being misrepresented or corrupted by individuals and vocal groups within the Muslim community – groups that adopt positions, methods and tactics that are not in keeping with the teachings of the Qur’an tend to create hatred and animosity towards Islam and Muslims from the wider public. The Muslim community is thus threatened from within and one of its primary duties is to protect the community – in particular the youth – from the activities of such groups. The meeting cautioned that in interaction with and dealing with such groups, there is no substitute for logic and clear argument.
Finally, since there was a lot of confusion and lack of knowledge of Islam, the scholars and imams suggested that the best way to protect the Muslim community is to inform and explain the teachings of Islam and the Qur’an.
- The definition of ‘terrorism’ from an Islamic perspective might well be more wide-ranging than current usage. The meeting cited indiscriminate murder and the shedding of blood, driving people out of their homes and lands, destruction of crops and livestock, and the spreading of fasad (mischief and corruption which encompasses political, economic and moral corruption) on earth as examples of acts or behaviour condemned by the Qur’an.
- Several verses of the Qur’an were cited to show Islam’s uncompromising insistence on justice. A statement issued after the meeting declared that ‘It is a criminal act to take the life of a human being without due process of law. The killing of innocent people whether done by individuals or state institutions is condemned in Islam’.
- The meeting was unanimous in opposing the imposition of any outside will on the choice of government in Afghanistan. It is contradictory to act in the name of democracy and then seek to impose a government by threat of force on any people.
- The meeting also condemned the many acts of ‘state terrorism’ that have been and are being perpetrated by states belonging to the coalition. In this regard, the ongoing Israel military expansion leading to the dispossession of the Palestinian people, resulting in 5 million refugees, is ‘state terrorism’ and gross violation of all justice.
- The meeting was held on Saturday 29th September 2001 at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London