The most prestigious group of Sunni Islamic scholars and jurists in the world called on American Muslims to “immediately start legal action to prosecute those who offend Islam” and called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to wage lawfare against those who insult Islam and its prophet.
The statement—issued in Arabic this past weekend on the website of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), and signed by the Arab world’s leading shariah authority, Yusuf al-Qaradawi—sheds light on the cause of riots around the Muslim world, and illustrates the importance of mainstream Islamic law as a cause of the rancor generated by the YouTube video "Innocence of Muslims."
The IUMS’s statement, as well as Qaradawi’s influential imprimatur, is a significant escalation in the Islamic world’s offensive to institute shariah globally and criminalize criticism of Islam.
The Islamic governments of Egypt, and Iran—as well as Muslim clerics both abroad and in the United States—have since echoed the essence of the IUMS statement, and called for legal action against those responsible for the video which, “should be considered a violation of the rights of Muslims and an attack on Islamic symbols and holy sites.”
Understanding the Islamic legal reasoning on which this statement is based is essential. In the context of Islamic law, Innocence of Muslims constitutes an encroachment on shariah’s clear prohibition against blasphemy or slander against Islam, its prophet or on shariah itself. Furthermore, the phrase “violation of the rights of Muslims” is a 20th Century Islamic legal convention; according to the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (served at the UN in 1990), “human rights” is understood as shariah only. According to that definition, the video is a violation of “human rights.”
The statement also urges the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation—which has already taken steps to implement a Ten Year Programme to curtail speech considered blasphemous toward Islam through international law—to “adopt lawsuits” aimed at circumscribing free speech rights in non-Muslim countries. Alarmingly, the Obama State Department has already indicated its willingness to participate in discussions along these lines, in a series of high-level meetings called the “Istanbul Process.”
Wednesday, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the OIC, pressed again for what would, in effect, be shariah anti-blasphemy laws, calling on the international community to “come out of hiding from behind the excuse of freedom of expression” and adopt “an international code of conduct for media and social media to disallow the dissemination of incitement material.”
The 86-year-old Qaradawi, whose notorious exhortations to jihadist violence against Jews and Americans are widely available on YouTube, is an international Islamic phenomenon; he is known as the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief jurist and, as the host of al Jazeera’s “Shariah and Life,” his sermons reach an estimated 60 million viewers worldwide.
The full text of the IUMS statement is below.
The International Union of Muslim Scholars condemns the film that offends the prophet and also of Christian missionary actifities and warns that such missionary work ignites acts of sedition “fitna” throughout the world.
Praise Allah, prayer and peace be upon Muhammad, Prophet of Allah, his family, companions and allies... furthermore;
The International Federation of Muslim Scholars has been following strange and wicked calls by some immigrant Copts who are collaborating with the extremist American pastor Terry Jones, who tried to burn the Koran.
In response, the World Federation of Muslim Scholars, to such an offensive attempt declares and affirms the following:
First: Such calls will never obstruct or reduce the greatness of Prophet, peace be upon him, whom God himself is witness to his great character and of his being “mercy to the humanity” and candle light. Wise men from around the world have witnessed to Muhammed’s greatness. Even some American authors placed Mohammed, peace be upon him, as number one in their list of the top one hundred great men throughout world history. Such calls will also not hinder Muhammed’s dawaa (call) from spreading far and wide in the horizon or block its righteous light.
Second: World Federation of Muslim Scholars wishes to express its deep objections and strong condemnation to such calls. The Union considers actions of immigrant Coptic individuals in making this movie which offends the Prophet, peace be upon him, to be a horrific and enticing action, fueling intolerance and hatred between nations and an insult and mockery to the feelings of Muslims around world.
Third: The Union calls on Muslims in America and throughout the world to take action and make claims against all those responsible and who contributed in the production of this work, and to immediately start legal action to prosecute all those who offend Islam, because such an ugly deed should never be allowed under the banner of freedom of expression, but should be considered a violation of the rights of Muslims and an attack on Islamic symbols and holy sites.
Fourth: The Union calls on international and Islamic organizations and Arab and Islamic governments to take the appropriate and positive action equivalent to the seriousness of such dreadful actions. The Union also calls on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to adopt lawsuits against those who abusing humanity as a whole personalized in offending the Messenger of mercy to the world.
Fifth: The Union calls on Muslims everywhere be sensitive to the ethics of Islam in dealing with such cases, where “no bearer of burdens can bear another” since generalization and punishment of the innocent, is not not proper, and transform “Putting the Prophet on Trial Day” into “A Day to inform the world about the Prophet”. The Union also appreciates the moderate calls of the Copts and Christians who condemned this action which has no connection to the ethics of Jesus, peace be upon him.
And God help.
Doha: November 1433 Higrah (Islamic Calendar)
A. Dr. Ali Al Qara Daghi, Secretary General
Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Secretary General
Head of the Union