Islam, Terror and the Second Nuclear Age

Large well informed and researched article from the NYTimes, concerning the theological debates within Islam concerning the future use of Nuclear Weapons (Islamic ones).

The Islamic discussion of nuclear weapons is profoundly intertwined with a parallel discussion of suicide bombing that is also taking place in the Muslim world. Suicide bombing and nuclear weapons typically kill without discrimination, murdering soldiers or civilians, men or women or children. And using nuclear force against another nuclear power can be suicidal, in the broad sense that retaliation may destroy the nation that attacked first. Beyond these commonalities is the fact that the rise of suicide bombing is driving a historic reconsideration of what might be called the Islamic ethics of violence. To consider Islam and the bomb today must thus inevitably draw us into the complex legal and political thinking of those Muslim authorities who justify the use of force.

The last two decades have seen a challenge to this Islamic tradition of warfare under law, a challenge driven mostly by the attempt to justify suicide bombing despite its evident inconsistency with Islamic tradition. On the subject of suicide, the Koran could hardly be clearer: “Do not kill yourselves; for surely God has been merciful to you.” Faced with this explicit text, the solution of the militant Islamist ideologues has been to avoid the category of suicide altogether and to treat the bomber as a martyr rather than as one who has taken his own life. This interpretation is not very convincing in historical terms: martyrdom classically meant that another person killed the Muslim warrior, not that he pushed the button himself. Nevertheless, many Muslims now seem to find the argument convincing. Even among rather secular Muslims, it has become standard to refer to suicide bombers as martyrs.

The killing of women, children and Muslim men, however, has proved harder to explain away as a permissible exercise of jihad. The reaction to 9/11, which has (so far) been the high-water mark of suicide bombing, illustrates the nature of the difficulty of reconciling suicide bombing with Islamic law. One problem concerns the offensive nature of the attack at a time when the United States was not at war with any Muslim entity. Offensive jihad requires the authorization of a legitimate Muslim leader, absent on 9/11. A more serious concern was the obvious reality that the 9/11 attacks were certain to kill — and did kill — women, children and Muslims, all in direct contravention of classical jihad principles. Since the whole point of 9/11 was to announce and embody jihad on the international stage, the attacks quickly became the centerpiece of a high-stakes debate about whether they did or did not qualify as legitimate acts of jihad.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it was sometimes asserted in the West that there were no Muslim voices condemning the attacks. This was never true. Prominent Muslim scholars expressed their disapprobation in public arenas like television and the Internet. These included senior Sunni scholars like the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia and the head of Al-Azhar, in Egypt, nominally the flagship institution of Sunni higher learning — who gave a news conference. More popular figures, like Al Jazeera’s resident cleric, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, explained that Islam “considers the attack on innocent human beings a grave sin.” Shiite scholars also spoke out, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran.

The position of the Muslim scholars and observers who condemned the 9/11 attacks was simple and consistent across the Sunni-Shiite divide: this was not jihad but an unlawful use of violence.

At the same time, it is important to note that in 2001 few prominent Muslim scholars — the Saudi grand mufti was the main exception — condemned the use of suicide bombings in all circumstances.

in full
Its all very nice, but why doesn't the Islamic society as one condemn the whole show.

Why are the Imam, mullahs and maulavis shy to issue fatwas against the AQ?

I find it difficult to buy the theory that there have been condemnation over 9/11 by the Islamic 'scholars' since they were so lukewarm that it would not have even made a decent cup of tea!

At the same time, I would say there have been few lone voices in the wilderness that have been drowned in the din of unabated glee each time a bomb explodes killing innocents or when flags are burnt and demonstrators wreck property.

If indeed the Islamic countries were serious, then they would not have banned terrorist organisations and then looked the other way when the same terrorist organisations, with the same leaders and organisational structure, resurfaced to wreak havoc with business as usual. Devious duplicity seems to be the watchword.

Further, they should have condemned and ridiculed the clerics who felt that the tsunami, the hurricanes off the US coast, were acts organised by the wrath of Allah. These same stupid clerics somehow forgot to mention that the earthquake in Kashmir and Pakistan thus should have also been the wrath of Allah.

The Islamic doublespeak is reprehensible, if you don't mind my saying so.

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