Demanding More than Condemnation


On the month of the wiladah (birth) of Prophet Muhammad – Rabi‘ al-Awwal – the third month in the Islamic lunar calendar, it’s quite appalling to hear the news of the Charlie Hebdo incident that resulted in the death of 12 people and wounding of 10 others.

For me, two issues are mainly involved here, viz. (1) the horrendous crimes committed and (2) freedom of expression. In this space, let me just deal with the first issue.

According to a news feed, one suspect allegedly declared that what he was doing was a reaction to the said Paris-based satirical magazine’s persistent practice of making cartoons lampooning Muhammad.

Be that as it may, the question is: Is the alleged punishment undertaken commensurate to the alleged crimes committed? In other words, does it warrant a death sentence? Does it call for sheer vigilantism without any regard to the due process of law?

Condemnation, yes, it must be in the strongest terms possible. But, is condemnation just enough? Of course, something must be done more than this.

Of a surety, similar awful incidents will happen again and again unless the wrong notion that almost every Muslim has the blanket authority to issue a religious edict (fatwa), justifying a particular punishment for a particular alleged crime.

The Amman Message or Amman Accord, which started as a detailed statement released by King Abdullah of Jordan in Ramadan 1425 AH (November 2004) and followed by convening in July 2005 of an international conference of 200 of the world’s leading Muslim scholars (‘ulama) from 50 countries, is worthy of our attention.

A relevant point highlighted in Amman Message is that acknowledgement of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhahib) within Islam means adhering to a fundamental methodology in the issuance of fatwas. In other words, only a high-ranking scholar worth his title has the authority to issue religious edict. As such, not any Abu Bakr, ‘Umar or ‘Uthman is religiously qualified to do so.

The said document is reportedly the largest contemporary ijma (consensus) in the Muslim world. From July 2005 to July 2006, it has already earned 552 endorsements from 84 countries including those of King Abdullah al-Saud and 14 other personalities from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Tantawi of Egypt, Sheikh Qaradawi of Qatar, Ayatullah Sistani of Iraq, and Ayatullah Khamene’i of Iran.

Can you guess the number of prominent Muslim entities from the Philippines that have endorsed the document? Zero, unfortunately.

Is it not high time now for entities such as NCMF, ARMM, MILF, MNLF, and the like to consider endorsing the Amman Message?

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