Guardian blogger picks up on “takfir” where we left off
Thanks to Haroon Siddique over at the Guardian newsblog for doing some work I left unfinished last week. On Feb. 26, I wrote a post about a leading Muslim seminary in India declaring terrorism to be un-Islamic and noted that the news got almost no coverage in western media. “So the statement, which was backed by several thousand Islamic scholars, looks like it will end up like the tree that falls in the forest with nobody around to hear it,” the post added. The next day, our Beirut bureau reported that Lebanon’s Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah — one of the most respected clerics in Shi’ite Islam — had denounced the practice of Muslims charging others with non-belief as “one of the most dangerous issues” faced by the Muslim world. This practice, called takfir in Arabic, is used by radical Islamists as a justification for killing other Muslims.
As soon as I saw the report, I thought this would probably be another tree falling in the forest unheard and bookmarked it to wait to see if it would be picked up. Other demands got in the way and then other blog subjects came up, so the takfir post didn’t even make it to the falling tree stage in the blogosphere. This happens more frequently than I like, but we can’t cover everything.
Now Siddique has come to the rescue with his post “Who’s listening to the Muslim moderates?” A few excerpts:
“How many times have we read or heard calls for moderate Muslims to speak out about wrongs supposedly carried out in the name of Islam?
Last week, one of the most respected clerics in Shia Islam, Lebanon’s grand ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, condemned the perpetrators of an attack against pilgrims in Iraq as “murderers and animals” and called for the repudiation of a school of thought that it was permissible to spill the blood of Muslims “who embrace another doctrine, or believe in alternative political views”…
…If you do not remember reading or hearing about his comments that is probably because you did not. His words, reported by Reuters, might have been expected to be picked up by the same media which regularly feature writers bemoaning a lack of moderate Muslims. But there was no mention of his strong words in the British papers, their websites or that of the BBC.“
Do you think news items like these don’t get media play because they don’t fit certain stereotypes? Of because editors don’t understand the role that the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary or Grand Ayathollah Fadlallah play? Or for some other reason?