Chicago-area Muslims are adding their support to an edict issued Thursday by national Islamic scholars denouncing terrorism.
The formal Islamic ruling, called a fatwa, was announced by the 18-member Fiqh Council of North America, a group charged with interpreting Muslim religious law. The scholars wrote that those who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam were "criminals, not martyrs."
"There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism," the fatwa stated. "Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram — or forbidden."
The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, an umbrella organization for 54 area Mosques and organizations, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Chicago Chapter, are holding a news conference today in Chicago to officially announce their position.
"It says that Muslims all across the nation stand in solidarity in condemnation of terrorism and religious extremism," Ahmed Rehab, director of communications for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Chicago Chapter, said in a phone interview Thursday. "We don't want it in our communities. We don't want it as a solution to fighting injustice. We believe, as Muslims, that the only way to fight injustice is to pursue justice and not partake in further acts of injustice."
Ahmed Qadeer, former president of the Naperville Islamic Center and the secretary for the Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association, said such a statement is necessary in light of recent world events.
"The thing is, people are trying to link the misbehavior of some Muslims with Islam itself, and that's totally uncalled for," Qadeer said, adding that some people mistakenly operate on the "guilty by association" assumption. "So, the (Muslim) community says there was a need to tell the world what Islam stands for, and I completely agree with the fatwa."
Every time there is an act of violence carried out by extremists, the entire Islamic faith is undermined and mainstream Muslims — who are by far the majority — suffer, Rehab said.
"With one single act of violence in London and elsewhere, we are set back many steps, and we have to reclimb the ladder," he said. "It's frustrating. It's difficult. It's agonizing, but we do it and we will continue to do it."