Friday, March 5, 2010

When fatwa should be welcomed

In response to:
Islamic scholar Tahir ul-Qadri issues terrorism fatwa

Some contend that just because someone is a theologian or religious scholar that anything they have to offer is without value. There are all kinds of scholars. Just because they specialize in fiction doesn't mean they are less studied than scholars of non-fiction. There is an argument to be made along the lines of, "That which isn't worth doing, isn't worth doing well." But I'm reluctant to rob experts of the title "scholar" just because their field of expertise might be the works of Jane Austin, Homer or even Gary Gygax. Furthermore, I wouldn't necessarily want Alan Dershowitz defending me if I were on trial in China. When considering things within a particular framework, of which we are not subject, an expert in that field (regardless of the merit of the field itself) should be given due consideration.

But the bigger question is, "Why is this news." Several islamic scholars/leaders have pronounced similar rulings. Why hasn't EVERY islamic scholar/leader pronounced similar rulings? These fatwa may not dissuade many (perhaps ANY) indoctrinated jihadist, but it may make recruiting more difficult. For people who can't think beyond "If you're not with us you're against us," clearly defined and universal exclusion of and opposition to violent extremism would make the path of al qaeda anathema.

Suicide bombers are touted as heroes within their social-religious-political circles. If that does not change then they are almost certain to continue. Religions may be short on fact and merit but still hold influence. I would prefer every cleric and believer to simultaneously realize and confess that their religion is irredeemable fiction. But that's not going to happen. Proponents of supernatural ideologies are essentially intractable. As long as there are believers there will be paragons. If fellow believers regard violent extremists as role models and we can't yet dissipate general belief perhaps we can welcome the reproval of the misguided and misnamed martyrs.

As homo sapiens we may be embarrassed (to whom?) that the majority of our species still clings to superstitious beliefs. As an atheist it is not the fairy tale beliefs of the religious that gall me (well, OK. Maybe a little). It is the social-political impact of their ideology that riles me. As a non-muslim, it is not the minarets or kowtowing that I find offensive. It is the inhumane practices such as violent jihadism and misogyny that cause me to recognize my own ferocity.

So if islamic scholars can (within the framework of their common fictitious superstition) refute and rebuke the unfounded rationale of self-righteous criminals, we should encourage them (the scholars). So the questions remain: Why is this news? Why hasn't EVERY islamic leader/scholar pronounced similar fatwa? Why has it taken this long for this lone fatwa? Why is official islamic condemnation of violent jihadism STILL so sparse and even then spoken softly?

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