Egypt’s grand mufti: No justification for terror in any religion

April 1, 2015
A view of the Mosque of Mohammed Ali in the Citadel, the Sultan Hasan Mosque and the Al-Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo

The Mosque of Mohammed Ali in the Citadel (top), the Sultan Hasan Mosque and the Al-Rifa’i Mosque (bottom right) in Cairo, May 20, 2008, REUTERS/Nasser Nuri

There is no true religion that does not regard the sanctity of human life as one of its highest values, and Islam is no exception. Indeed, Allah made this unequivocal in the Qur’an. He emphasized the gravity of the universal prohibition against murder, stating that when a person takes even one life, “it is as if he has killed all mankind.”

Egyptians are still torn by grief for the 21 countrymen who were horrifically beheaded in Libya. It was an exceptionally sad day for the Egyptian nation to have to watch a video of its citizens massacred by a group of thugs. The scenes of bloodbath are heart-wrenching in their severity.

This grisly crime finds no justification in any reasonable understanding of any religion. Only extremists who have perverted the essence of Islamic teaching could countenance the idea that our religion of mercy and reason might allow the killing of innocent workers  earning money so their families can live dignified lives.

A child looks on as Muslims conduct taraweeh prayers after gathering specially for Lailat al-Qadr in Cairo

A child looks on as Muslims conduct taraweeh prayers after gathering for Lailat al-Qadr, at Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, July 24, 2014. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

It took place just days after the so-called Islamic State extremists burned alive Jordanian pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh. It was one more high-profile example of the growing global threat that violent extremist ideologies pose to international peace and security, to the image of Islam and to the future of intercultural and interreligious relations.

These thugs are invoking religious texts to justify their inhumane crimes. Their ill- conceived linking of sacred texts to violence and aggression has led to much misinterpretation of Islam’s lofty ideals. We must make clear that the terrorists’ justification is nothing more than a hallucination of sick minds. It is a flagrant misreading of both the letter and spirit of the Islamic tradition and an aberration from the long history of Islamic civilization.

Murder and terror can never be the outcome of any proper understanding of religion. Rather, they are a manifestation of the immorality of people with cruel hearts, arrogant souls and warped logic.

The corruption and instability sown by their actions are a source of great sadness and outrage for Muslims — and all humanity. These terrorists are not Muslim activists but criminals who have been fed a mistaken interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the teachings and practices of the Prophet Mohammed.

To defeat the terrorists and defend our peaceful, tolerant religion, their ideologies must be challenged and rooted out at the physical level and, even more so, the intellectual level. We must persist with a correct presentation of Islam’s true teachings, as passed down for centuries through the collective wisdom of sages and scholars.

A boy wounded in one of Friday's suicide bomb attacks lies in a hospital bed in Sanaa

A boy wounded in a suicide bomb attacks lies in a hospital bed in Sanaa, March 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Beyond a military war on terror, we are in an ideological battle — one we must win — against radical extremists who use terror as a weapon to achieve their goals of disrupting global stability and the conscience of the peaceful world. Winning this war requires not just victory on the ground but, more important, in the successful exchange of ideas and information that refutes the dogma of radical clerics.

Let me be clear: Islam is utterly against extremism and terrorism. Unless we dismantle and deconstruct all ideas of extremism propagated by these groups, however, we will never eradicate this scourge. All terror groups essentially carry the same intellectual poison. This must be understood in order to build a better future that can bring an end to this grave situation that is destroying the world.

Egypt is in dire need of the world’s support as it fights against the terrorist cancer. In this battle, Egypt is defending not only itself but also humanity against the encroaching danger of extremism. This is progress that the international community has expressed a genuine desire to understand the perils that radical ideology poses.

Radical movements must be opposed in every way possible — not given moral support to stoke more tensions. The international community must take measures to shut off terror groups’ financial resources, deny them safe haven and prevent them from further growth.

The time is upon us to take up the challenge of ridding the world of radicalization to save our future from further bloodshed and victims’ families from further sorrow.

12 comments

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The writer is entitled to his interpretation of Islamic writings. But apparently, enough of the Islamic world including many of their clergy have participated in or funded what outside world sees as terrorist type Jihad. A still larger number do not actively support killing those responsible or defrocking such clergy.

Therefore is can be said terror has a place in a large part of the Islamic population of the world.

Posted by SamuelReich | Report as abusive

People and things are what they do (effects) not what people say about them. Islam is what the Islamic populations do.

Posted by SamuelReich | Report as abusive

Islam is a dead end. There is no innovation or progress coming from Islamic nations. When is the last time you heard of a medical breakthrough coming from a university in an Islamic country? What are their innovations in alternative energy? Civil engineering? Anything?

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Please note that a “Grand Mufti” is a public official charged with interpreting Islam for the Muslims of a particular country (in this case, Egypt):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Mufti

Therefore, the comments in this piece are more than philosophizing by an individual Islamic scholar.

The world needs respected Muslim authorities to take strong positions against radical jihadism. Invoking the religion of Islam in order to justify heinous acts of violence is the main tool of radical jihadists. That tool can be taken away only by those who can teach Muslims that the way of radical jihadists is not the way of Islam, and that can be done only by defining what is and what is not Islam. Non-Muslims certainly cannot define Islam in any meaningful way. Only respected religious authorities like the Grand Mufti of Egypt can do so. Therefore, respected authorities of Islam can take away the principal tool of radical jihadists – their ideology.

God bless him.

Posted by Bob9999 | Report as abusive

The article start with “There is no true religion that…”

Is the author, being a Muslim, asserting that there exists ANY other true religion besides Islam? Notwithstanding word games whereby Jesus, Abraham, etc.. are classified as ‘Muslims’.

Therein lies the real issue. Islam clearly treats most other religions as idolatrous, to be eliminated or at best 2nd class as in the case of Christianity and Judaism, to be openly subjugated and humiliated and taxed.

If deceiving ‘infidels’ is a commonly accepted Muslim stratagem of ‘war’ and especially Holy War, how can one even accept the words of the author at face value.

Non-Muslims will no longer be assuaged with mere subjective, candy-coated, handwaving but require real answers to real questions arising from the very Quran and Sunnah themselves. Author neither deals with the contradictions in the Quran and the abrogation of the ‘peaceful’ verses.

The author also seems to not have an objective view of Islam’s violent heritage and history (and present and hopefully not future) which discredits the article completely. Even several of the early caliphs were murdered/assassinated. The country of India is another example of brutal Islamic history.

Posted by skepto | Report as abusive

Heat makes people crazy. Muslims are in mostly hot areas of the world. Therefore, they are mostly crazy. The Muslims who leave, are no longer crazy. Alabama and Texas… crazy Christians. Cambodia and Thailand…. crazy Buddhists. Rwanda…. crazy tribes. Global warming will only amplify this problem. People need to chill funk out, and quit chopping arms off.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

This is the first time of which I am aware that a muslim authority has publicly rejected terrorists and terrorism. If this example is accepted and followed by muslims the world over they may eventually take back regain control of the public relations of Islam.

Only in this manner can they once again live in peace with the rest of the world.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Its funny how the Grand Mufti of Egypt only mourns the deaths of other Sunni’s. He makes no mention of the slaughter of Shiites, Christians, Yazidis, and so many other minorities.

The problem lies within the Sunni world. They need to get there religions house in order and get rid of all of the terrorists among them…….

Posted by No_apartheid | Report as abusive

It’s exactly like with the Nazi’s and with any other powerful organization that already has power- you cannot stand up to them or you and/or your family will disappear. All of you who say “Muslims should stand up and be against their religion being used as justification of terrorism.” have never spent a year in the shoes of an Iranian or Syrian or Iraqi who knows that if they speak up their very life and their family are in danger. It is why outside forces such and USA need to fight.

Posted by LetBalanceCome | Report as abusive

Islam is bad news. Just quit.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

If the Grand Mufti of Egypt is a true reformer, he will lift the fatwa placed on Seattle Cartoonist (Molly Norris), and place one instead on the pedophile rapists down at Boko Haram, ISIS, and Al Shabab.

We shall see.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Step one Mr Mofti is to remove all clauses related to hate and killing Jews and Christians from the Quran. Than we can believe what are you saying.
Quran breed terrors

Posted by AAA12323pixton | Report as abusive