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November 17, 2005


Robert Stevens

Marc, the Emirates News Agency quotes Sheikh bin Zayed thusly:

“There should be a firm stand by Islamic scholars against terrorists. If they cannot declare them apostate, the least they can do is to drive them out of the faith.”

Zayed's "If they cannot declare them apostate" seems to recognize the moderate scholars' reluctance to play the takfiri card.

The question then, short of the takfir brand, how does the orthodoxy "drive them out of the faith?"

the aardvark

Robert - thanks for the clarification about Zayed, I feel better about that formulation. Al-Hayat must have paraphrased him in the more inflammatory way, which set off my alarm bells.

The last question is a really big one, and a good one... I'll think about it.



The report in al-Hayat is very disturbing. Abdullah 2 has a special reason not to indulge bin Zayd, et. al., bad behavior here as it will undo all the good work achieved at the ‘True Islam and its Role in Modern Society' conference that Jordan hosted earlier this year.

At that conference for the first time in Islamic history leading clerics from eight major schools of Islamic jurisprudence issued a fatwa forbidding the labelling of apostasy. Please find the link to the conference declaration here:


Article 1 of the declaration is unequivocal:

"Whosoever is an adherent of one of the four Sunni Schools of Jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali), the Ja‘fari (Shi‘i) School of Jurisprudence, the Zaydi School of Jurisprudence, the Ibadi School of Jurisprudence, or the Thahiri School of Jurisprudence is a Muslim. Declaring that person an apostate is impossible."

This was truly a revolutionary moment in Islamic thought and has not received proper coverage in the West. Even the of Saudi Arabia now agree that Shi'ites are, in fact, Muslims!

To go back on this declaration for the ploy of further lambasting violent extremists, as perhaps bin Zayd and some non-Muslims wish, undermines all hope of intellectual and political progress in the region.

It is, in fact, an easy call. Say that bin Ladin & Co. are badly behaving Muslims, yes, but don't take off the table the good, difficult work of interfaith dialog for expediency's sake. Self-described "liberals" should be ashamed for even considering it.

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