Have Muslims remained silent on terrorism?

The Silence of the Muslims?
Where are the Muslim voices against terrorism?

A person living today has to be extremely and chronically deaf, dumb or blind to not see the overwhelming litany of condemnations and refutations against terrorism by the highest of authorities in Islam. Since the so called 9/11 terrorist attack, Muslims have, in concert, throughout the world, consistently and ubiquitously condemned any and all forms of terrorist atrocity that targets civilians and non-combatants as heinous crimes against the religion and humanity in general. The Muslims have never remained ‘silent’. Shying away from speaking out against terrorism is a patently false charge against 1.7 billion strong Muslims worldwide that certain irresponsible groups (typically Christian missionary evangelists) shamelessly peddle.

The exquisite and illuminating juristic edict against terrorism perpetrated on civilians written by the eminent Sunni jurist, philologist, philosopher and theologian based in Oxford University Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti titled ‘Defending the Transgressed by Censuring the Reckless against the Killing of Civilians’, the 600-page ‘Fatwa on Terrorism’ by Sheikh Dr. Tahirul Qadri, the ‘Open Letter to Baghdadi’ by more than 100 of the most distinguished Islamic jurists and scholars of the day are only some of the numerous public ‘fatawa’ (religious edicts) unabashedly forwarded by Islam’s authoritative scholars condemning terrorism in all its horrendous forms.

Western academia explicitly refutes the allegation of Muslims’ silence made by those conniving evangelists like Jay Smith’s lieutenant Lizzie Schofield, who frequents Hyde Park to propagate her brand of Christianity. Commenting on the situation in Sweden, the Swedish theologian and ordained minister in the Church of Sweden Professor Göran Larsson writes:

“A large majority of Muslim leaders have condemned all forms of violence and threats as un-Islamic. The Swedish government has also been engaged in a dialogue with various Muslim groups to try and prevent further conflicts.” [1]

Juan Carlos Antunez and Dr. Ioannis Tellidis of the Department of International Studies, Kyung Hee University write:

“Many Muslim scholars have attributed Islam’s association with terrorism to ignorance among Muslims (al-Atharee, in Silber and Bhatt 2007, 13), misunderstanding (DeLong Bas 2004, 278-279) and sometimes insincere research and even deliberate misleading (al-Jazaa’iree, in Spechard 2011, 9-2) by different Western interests and agendas. They have made statements that affirm terrorism is in violation of Sharia law and aids the enemies of Islam (Silber and Bhatt 2007; Salafipublications 2003). Numerous fatwas (an Islamic scholar’s authoritative legal opinion) condemning suicide bombing as haram (legal term for what is forbidden or inviolable under Islamic Law) have been published by Islamic scholars worldwide. According to them, terrorism must be condemned without any excuses or pretexts: “They [terrorists] can’t claim that their suicide bombings are martyrdom operations and that they become heroes of the Muslim Umma. No, they become heroes of hellfire, and they are leading towards hellfire.” (Casciani 2010).” [2]

Even the war criminal, former president of the United States George W. Bush recognises the fact that Muslim scholars have publicly condemned terrorism:

“Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism ,often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. After the attacks in London on July the 7th, an imam in the United Aram Emirates declared, “Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person.” [3]

Deputy Director of the Oxford Changing Character of War research programme and Lecturer in the History of War at Oxford University Dr. Rob Johnson writes:

“Muslim scholars have frequently condemned attempts by al-Qaeda and other militant movements to justify terrorist attacks, or to claim a spurious authority to wage war on alleged apostate regimes or the West… They argue there are strong ethical grounds for criticising ‘maryrdom operations’ and the other distortions of Islam by extremists. Scholars illustrate how the Jihadists’ claim to champion the repurification of Islam is, in fact, un-Islamic.” [4]

William Cooper of The Red McCombs School of Business and The IC2 Institute in the University of Texas at Austin and his colleague Piyu Yue write:

“Many eminent Islamic scholars and theologians have consistently condemned the actions of the Islamist* terror network. Two historians from Iran, Laden Boroumand and her sister Roya Boroumand, wrote: “The truth is the contemporary Islamist terror is an eminently modern practice thoroughly at odds with Islamic traditions and ethics”.” [5]

Cambridge scholar Dr. Tim Winter (Sheikh Dr. Abdal Hakam Murad) writes:

“Despite the current polarity, with Al-Qa’ida and the American ‘theocons’ determined to counter each other’s violence through a preemptive violence of their own, most Muslims clearly abhor the escalation of global hatreds caused by the terror and the war-on-terror rhetoric and practice which have been deployed by zealots on both sides. The scholarly mainstream has consistently and strongly condemned terrorism. One reason is that most casualties, both of Islamist terrorism and of Western ‘shock and awe’, are Muslims.” [6]

Winter hits the nail on the head as he identifies the fatal flaw in the charge that Muslims have remained silent on terrorism: Muslims have typically felt the brunt of terrorism as they are the ones that are usually victimised by terrorist groups.** As the main victims of terrorism, it is quite absurd to suggest that Muslims have been silent, which is really an implicit charge that Muslims tacitly approve terrorism. There is absolutely no doubt that Islam absolutely condemns the act of harming non-combatants or civilians. And the consistent message against such acts by Islamic authorities the world over has been unified: terrorism is unIslamic and must be condemned without ifs or buts.


[1] Göran, L. (2009). Sweden. In Goran Larsson (ed), Islam in the Nordic and Baltic Countries. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. p. 65

[2] Antunez, J. C. & Tellidis, I. (2014). The power of words: the deficient terminology surrounding Islam-related terrorism. In Harmonie Toros & Ioannis Tellidis (eds), Terrorism, Peace and Conflict Studies. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. p. 123

[3] Bush, G. W. (2008). President George W. Bush Discusses the Global War on Terror, Military Officers Association, Washington, D.C., September 5, 2006. In Yonah Alexander & Michael B. Kraft (eds), Evolution of U.S. Counterterrorism Policy, Volume 1. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Security International. p. 314

[4] Johnson, R. (2011). Jihad and the ‘war on terror’: intelligence, ethics and justice in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Annika Bergman-Rosamond & Mark Phythian (eds), War, Ethics and Justice: New perspectives on a post-9/11 world. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, p. 177

* Terms like ‘Islamist’, ‘Islamism’ or ‘Islamic terrorism’ are misnomers because they give the impression to the unwary that those groups labelled with such epithets have some legitimacy in Islam, which is completely wrong. We should not afford terror groups with any sense of justification for their criminal activities and awarding them with such terms unnecessarily clouds the issue and may even give impetus to would-be terrorists to join the terrorist dastardly agenda, thinking that the terrorism of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qa’ida and other such groups legitimate.

[5] Cooper, W. W. & Piyu Yue (2008). Challenge of the Muslim World: Present, Future and Past. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. p. 277

[6] Winter, T. (2010). Terrorism and Islamic Theologies of Religiously-Sanctioned War. In David Fisher & Brian Wicker, Just War on Terror?: A Christian and Muslim Response. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. p. 22

** Top Jesuit Catholic priest and scholar, Father Mitch Pacwa recognises that Muslims are the primary victims of the terrorist organisation, ISIS/ISIL/IS/Da’esh:

“And Da’esh or ISIS has declared war on everybody who’s not Muslim as they understand it. One of the other realities you must pay attention to is that most of the victims of al-Qa’eda and Da’esh are themselves Muslims. It’s very common, especially on Fridays, which is the primary day of prayer, for a mosque or more than one mosque to be attacked and blown up with the worshippers inside by other Muslims… And this is a horrific experience for Muslims. In fact, the terror that we see on trains that has been going on, in Paris, there’s so many people killed… This is part of regular experience in places like Baghdad, the capital of Iraq and many other places around the Muslim world. It’s a horrible situation because they include those Muslims who disagree with them…”

[Our Sunday Visitor]. (2016, August 18). Mitch Pacwa “Islam and Christianity In These Trying Times with Fr. Mitch Pacwa”. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy1ynJv_uBM