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Issue Date:  December 14, 2007

North American Muslims issue fatwa against terrorism

WASHINGTON -- North American Muslim clerics issued a fatwa against Islamic terrorism here Nov. 30, hoping to build on the just-completed Mideast peace talks and a Vatican invitation to meet with Muslim leaders.

The Fiqh Council of North America, an affiliate of the Islamic Society of North America, counts support from some 500 Muslim leaders and organizations for its condemnation of violence, chairman Muzammil H. Siddiqi said.

“Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is prohibited in Islam -- haram -- and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not ‘martyrs,’ ” the fatwa reads.

The fatwa also says Muslims have a duty to alert law enforcement about any threats to human life and must not cooperate with any group or individual involved in terrorism.

The Nov. 30 fatwa follows similar attempts by moderate Muslims, including the Fiqh Council, to denounce violence, Siddiqi said. But both Siddiqi and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, on hand Nov. 30 to promote the fatwa, said previous calls were “widely ignored.”

Recent events worldwide, however, including Mideast peace talks in Annapolis, Md., and a flurry of correspondence between Muslim scholars and Pope Benedict XVI (see related story) make this an opportune time to gain momentum in the United States, leaders said.

“We’ve reached a good plateau,” said McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington and a leader in interfaith peace efforts. “Now we have a good foundation to build on.”

McCarrick gently chided Americans for not heeding previous attempts by moderate Muslims to be heard.

The fatwa, he said, “is a monumental step. ... We’ve never taken notice before. Now we’re taking notice of the clear statements they’ve made.”

A number of Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, as well as prominent Washington insiders, attended the fatwa announcement and offered a “Thanksgiving Proclamation” of their own to welcome it.

“We are all children of Abraham,” said McCarrick, “so we’re all family. And we really need to love each other, understand each other and work together.”

-- Religion News Service

National Catholic Reporter, December 14, 2007

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