Islamic scholars to rethink jihad in Turkey's Mardin
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 3/22/2010 12:00:00 AM |
A radical 'fatwa,' or religious opinion, decreed by a scholar in Mardin seven centuries ago will be questioned next weekend in the same city by an international team of top Islamic scholars.
A radical “fatwa,” or religious opinion, decreed by a scholar in Mardin seven centuries ago will be questioned next weekend in the same city by an international team of top Islamic scholars.
More than 20 authoritative clerics from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other predominantly Muslim countries will discuss why “jihad,” or holy war, should be understood in a more peaceful perspective.
The story goes back to the 13th Century, when much of the Muslim Middle East was occupied by Mongols. The latter destroyed many Muslim cities and massacred whole populations, but over time, some of the ruling Mongols converted to Islam. Yet they continued to implement their pre-Islamic “yasa,” or law, rather than the Shariah devised by Islamic scholars. It was Ibn Taymiyyah of Harran, a scholar from the strict Hanbali school, who condemned this “half Islam” and renounced the Mongols as hypocrites rather than real Muslims. He also argued it was a religious obligation for “real Muslims” to wage jihad on these “apostates.”
In the modern age, radical Islamist groups such as the Takfir wal-Hijra (Excommunication and Exodus) of Egypt have referred to this fatwa by Ibn Taymiyyah in order to denounce and attack Muslims who disagree with their interpretation of the Shariah. Terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda have also used the same source of justification.
“This justification for violence, known as the Mardin fatwa, has become a tool for radical terrorist groups,” said Aftab Malik, head of an Islamic Institute in Britain and one of the organizers of next weekend’s meeting. “That’s why we have chosen Mardin.” The Artuklu University of Mardin, which will host the event, made the purpose even clearer by naming the event: “Mardin, the Land of Peace.”
An influential name who has helped organize the event is Ibrahim Kalın. Kalın replaced Turkey’s current foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, last year as the top advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “This is an important opportunity to show the world that Islam is in fact a religion of peace and tolerance,” Kalın said.