Islamic leaders will issue 'fatwa' on terrorists

It is expected that the religious ruling, which will be drafted this week, will effectively outlaw the bombers among Muslims by stating the attacks were a breach of the most basic tenets of Islam.

Senior community leaders believe they must try to deflect another wave of revenge attacks by undermining the religious basis of the terrorists' alleged Islamist ideology and, significantly, by questioning their right to describe themselves as Muslims.

The move follows a decision taken late on Friday night at an emergency summit attended by about 100 of the country's most prominent Muslim leaders, held in private at East London Mosque.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said: "Those behind this atrocity aren't just enemies of humanity but enemies of Islam and Muslims. The people at the receiving end of this, both as some of the victims of the bombing and victims of the backlash, are Muslims."

The proposal was thrashed out amid growing fears that British Muslims face violent reprisals for the bombings which have killed more than 50 people and wounded another 700 people.

Several religious centres, including a Sikh temple and a mosque in Leeds, have already been attacked, and several Muslims have reportedly been assaulted in southern England and north London.

Muslim leaders have also been sent hundreds of threatening emails, thought to have been orchestrated by neo-Nazi groups. In the aftermath of the 11 September attacks on New York and the Pentagon, hundreds of British Muslims were assaulted, one fatally, with mosques firebombed and desecrated.

The statements - the first of their kind issued by British Muslim leaders - mark a turning point for the UK's Islamic scholars. Under Islamic law, it is impossible to strip someone of their right to call themselves Muslim. Unlike the right of Catholic popes to excommunicate, in Islam that power is reserved to God.

Senior clerics and scholars are, however, able to repudiate a Muslim's actions and to discredit the Islamic basis of their behaviour. This approach has been highly controversial, however, after Islamic scholars ruled the Ahmadi sect were not Muslims because they believe Mohamed was not the final prophet and that their founder was the messiah.

The MCB's official spokesman said: "If these bombers are found to be Muslims, we will make it clear we utterly dissociate ourselves from them - even if they claim to be Muslims or are acting under the mantle of the Islamic faith. We reject that utterly."

Within hours of the bombings on Thursday, senior Islamic scholars abroad condemned the attacks in Egypt and Saudi Arabia condemned the bombing as un-Islamic.

One of the first was Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the controversial Egyptian cleric who met Ken Livingstone last year and who was accused earlier this year of supporting suicide bombing and the killing of homosexuals.

Sheikh al-Qaradawi said that Islam "denounces in the strongest possible terms the shedding of the sanctified blood of innocent and protected people."

He said the bombings were "evil acts characterised by barbarity and savagery, which are condemned by Islam in the strongest of terms, for Islam is extremely clear about the prohibition of taking human life".

Signed by dozens of prominent Muslim bodies, mosques, Islamic scholars and community groups, the MCB will also state that Muslims have a moral duty to help the police catch the perpetrators.

Community leaders are also under intensifying political pressure to take these steps.

Murad Qureshi, the only Muslim member of the Greater London Assembly and a former Labour councillor in Westminster, said: "If there was a fatwa issued, I would welcome it.

"It's about time we put clear distance between ourselves and so-called Muslim leaders like Osama bin Laden, who has been able to dictate the whole agenda with his video nasties."

Mr Qureshi, who was brought up close to Edgware Road, scene of the third of Thursday's Tube bombings, said the Arab-dominated area was now extremely tense.

"It is undoubtedly subdued," he said.

Lined by Lebanese, Moroccan and Arab restaurants, the road is also close to Britain's "senior" mosque, at Regent's Park.

In common with mosques across the country, the mosque was unusually quiet during Friday prayers, with little to be seen of the politically-active radical groups that usually leaflet worshippers there.

Many community leaders reacted last week by urging Muslims to stay indoors, travel in groups and avoid areas around pubs at closing time - advice which is now being rejected as too defensive.

Mr Qureshi and Sir Iqbal Sacranie said they plan to resist efforts to demonise Muslims - a theme picked up last week by Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Mr Phillips said: "There's not a dividing line between Muslims and Londoners. The dividing line is between those who commit these acts and those who don't."

Mr Qureshi said: "It's important we don't feel we have to apologise for Thursday's attacks. We're not talking about Muslims here. We're talking about a bunch of nutters. The time has come to debunk the idea they are sanctioned by Islam."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen