Recently I read in the press that over 1000 Muslim scholars and imams of India have issued a fatwa against the leader, fighters and followers of the self-declared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State (ISIS). In the fatwa the religious scholars “strongly condemned the actions of the IS”. They censured ISIS of “guilty of committing heinous murders of innocent human beings, clicking images of their horrific misdeeds and showing them to the world through live videos and Internet posts, and at the same time, wrongly claiming these to be “Islamic Acts done lawfully as per the Shariah (Islamic Law)”. The scholars emphatically stated that the IS or ISIS actions were “absolutely inhuman and added that Islam never permits such unlawful acts under any circumstances” http://www.aninews.in//newsdetail2/story232476/over-1000-indian-islamic-scholars-issue-world-039-s-biggest-fatwa-against-isis.html).
These Indian scholars deserve our appreciation for pronouncing their total condemnation for all that ISIS stands for. I spoke to Dr Abdur Rahman Anjaria who took the initiative to get a fatwa from a Mufti and get that certified by 1000 Muslim religious scholars . He informed me of the ecumenical, if we use a Christian term, dimension of this initiative. They certified that the fatwa came from diverse Muslim schools of thought. Considering the tension between different theological schools among Muslims, such is a welcome step. This ecumenical dimension adds to the weight of the document.
The worst consequence of the extreme form of intolerance practiced by ISIS is the great exodus of thousands and thousands of refugees streaming towards European Union countries. Many nations in EU, especially Germany, have welcomed refugees. It is important to appreciate such humanitarian gesture. The European hosts who receive refugees and give them shelter have shown that anyone who is in need is their neighbor. This welcoming of refugees is the real expression of the culture that is rooted in the Gospel; a Christian culture in its beautiful form.
What strikes our mind: One, a large number of Muslims began to raise their voices against the atrocities done by fellow Muslims in the name of Islam. They disapprove and condemn inhumanity done in the name of Islam. Often this segment of Muslims either remained silent or condemned atrocities done by extremists in the name of Islam, in whispers and not aloud. This is changing. More and more Muslims are speaking out for peace and harmony. Second, the Christian character of Europe shines in the way in which many Europeans attend to the bruised and tired refugees who reach European borders. These efforts of both Christians and Muslims give hope for the future.
Victor Edwin SJ
Lecturer – Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Vidyajyoti College of Theology), Director – VIDIS (Vidyajyoti Institute of Islamic Studies)