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."

Voices
Numbers of complaints about unwanted calls have trebled in just six months
voices
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
Picture of innocence: Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington in ‘Derek’
tvReview: The insights of Ricky Gervais's sweet and kind character call to mind Karl Pilkington's faux-naïf podcast observations
Life & Style
Looking familiar: The global biometrics industry is expected to grow to $20bn by 2020
tech
News
Higher expectations: European economies are growing but the recovery remains weak
newsThe eurozone crisis has tipped many into despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues economist Philippe Legrain
Arts & Entertainment
Tangled up in blue: Singer-songwriter Judith Owen
musicAnd how husband Harry Shearer - of Spinal Tap and The Simpsons fame - helped her music flourish
Sport
Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the opening goal
sportReal Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0: Germans will need their legendary self-belief to rescue Champions League tie in second leg
Arts & Entertainment
Paul Weller: 'I am a big supporter of independent record stores but the greedy touts making a fast buck off genuine fans is disgusting'
music
Arts & Entertainment
William Shakespeare's influence on English culture is still strongly felt today, from his plays on stage to words we use everyday
arts
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes has claimed supporters understand the need to look at
sportScot thanks club staff and fans, but gives no specific mention of players
News
Foster and Hedison have reportedly been dating since last summer
peopleOscar-winner said to be 'totally in love' with Alexandra Hedison
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Life & Style
Balancing act: City workers at the launch of Cityfathers
lifeThe organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group boasting more than 3,000 members
Arts & Entertainment
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Migrants in Britain a decade on: The Poles who brought prosperity

Migrants in Britain a decade on

The Poles who brought prosperity
Philippe Legrain: 'The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - we need a European Spring'

Philippe Legrain: 'We need a European Spring'

The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues the economist
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj
Judith Owen reveals how husband Harry Shearer - star of This Is Spinal Tap and The Simpsons - helped her music flourish

Judith Owen: 'How my husband helped my music flourish'

Her mother's suicide and father's cancer also informed the singer-songwriter's new album, says Pierre Perrone
The online lifeline: How a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression

Online lifeline: Housing association's educational initiative

South Yorkshire Housing Association's free training courses gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
Face-recognition software: Is this the end of anonymity for all of us?

Face-recognition software: The end of anonymity?

The software is already used for military surveillance, by police to identify suspects - and on Facebook
Train Kick Selfie Guy is set to scoop up to $250,000 thanks to his viral video - so how can you cash in on your candid moments?

Viral videos: Cashing in on candid moments

Train Kick Selfie Guy Jared Frank could receive anything between $30,000 to $250,000 for his misfortune - and that's just his cut of advertising revenue from being viewed on YouTube
The world's fastest elevators - 20 metres per second - are coming soon to China

World's fastest elevators coming soon to China

Whatever next? Simon Usborne finds out from Britain's highest authority on the subject
Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture that causes men to miss out on seeing their children

Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture

The organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills, a chief operating officer who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group that now boasts more than 3,000 members
Ian Herbert: Manchester United broken so badly they need a big personality to carry out overhaul

United broken so badly they need a big personality to carry out overhaul

The size of the rebuild needed at Old Trafford is a task way beyond Ryan Giggs, says Ian Herbert
Mark Schwarzer: Chelsea keeper aims to seize unlikely final chance

Mark Schwarzer: Chelsea keeper aims to seize unlikely final chance

The 41-year-old calmed his nerves to perform a classic 'Superman act' when he replaced Petr Cech in Madrid. One clean sheet later, he is now determined to become a club hero
Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?