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U.S. Religious Leaders Condemn Terrorist Acts

Religious Leaders Condemn Terrorist Acts

Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders in the United States have joined together in an interfaith peace-building effort to condemn terrorism and the violence it causes. In supporting this initiative, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa, or religious edict, saying "there is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism."

Christian and Jewish leaders also issued a companion prayer that supports the message of the Fiqh Council fatwa, by asking for the security and safety of all people from the violence caused by terrorists.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, joining other religious leaders at the National Press Club recently, said an important means for eradicating extremism and terrorism is condemnation of the destruction and violence committed against innocent men and women. "Our friends in the Fiqh Council have seen that and have accepted it very beautifully and very courageously," he said.

The Fiqh Council, the highest judicial body in the Muslim community in the United States, advises North American Muslims on matters of Islamic law. It had issued a similar edict two years ago, and renewed it November 30.

"It's a courageous statement, and it's something which will touch all of us in the United States and beyond," McCarrick said at the Press Club.

McCarrick joined Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in launching the "Uniting to Protect" national movement to bring Americans of all religious faiths together in the struggle against terrorism. Movement leaders are concerned that religion has become subverted to justify terrorist acts and the murder of innocent people. Terrorism experts generally believe that religion is used in contemporary terrorism as a means of communication.

"It really shows how religion is being twisted. [Osama] bin Laden [of the terrorist group al-Qaida], himself does not have any theological credentials, yet he issues fatwas because he knows people will listen to them, that it is an enormously helpful means to enhance his message to attract new support," says Georgetown University professor Bruce Hoffman, who has written of the relationship of religion to modern terrorism.

The direct linkage of religion and terrorist groups began to emerge in the 1980s following the 1979 revolution in Iran, he says, as terrorist groups increasingly sought to emulate the success of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.

McCarrick said there is no question that in the past religion has been misused. He cited a previous statement on religion and violence, saying that "the greatest crime against religion is to use religion to hurt other people."

Fiqh Council Chairman Muzammil Siddiqi, a former president of the Islamic Society of North America, presented the fatwa, saying that "since peace is the rule, not the exception, in our faith, it follows that any act of violence in humanity and injustice by any party against any party must be condemned as contrary to God's teachings."

Islam emphasizes a peaceful and just coexistence between Muslims and all other people, he said. "This position has been stated and reiterated in an earlier fatwa of the Fiqh Council of North America and by many Islamic scholars in various parts of the world."

The fatwa calls for the defeat of extremism and terrorism and the safety and security of the United States and its people and all of the people of the world.

Siddiqi said the fatwa has been endorsed by 500 Muslim leaders in the United States and major Islamic organizations across the country.


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