Suicide bombers in Afghanistan have shown little restraint:
Wedding parties and even mosques and children have witnessed
gruesome targeting by the Taliban against civilians.
But as attacks soared in the summer and fall, killing scores of
civilians every week including at least 40 Muslim devotees at a
mosque in late October public revulsion has turned into
For the first time in late January, Muslim scholars and clerics
from around the world will come to Kabul specifically to condemn
suicide bombings as un-Islamic. The conference will be the first to
focus on suicide bombing, and its framers hope the result will
reverberate beyond Afghanistan.
"Many times, scholars in Pakistan and Afghanistan have made
statements but had no influence," says Mufti Shamsur Rahman Firotan,
a religious scholar in Kabul. "This one will have influence, and
will give the idea to the people that suicide attacks are forbidden.
The message is for all: in Iraq, in Pakistan, all these [militant
Senior United Nations officials have challenged religious
officials to speak more loudly against attacks carried out in the
name of Islam, while Afghan religious scholars have long decried
suicide attacks, with little response by the ultra-conservative
Taliban. An official gathering this summer resolved that suicide
attacks "have no legitimate foundation in Islam."
It had little effect at the time. But those declarations have now
been further bolstered. Saudi Arabias Grand Mufti, the highest
religious authority in the birthplace of Islam and respected by the
Taliban, explicitly condemned suicide bombing.
Yet since Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh issued such
a high-profile public statement in late October, Taliban suicide
attacks have continued, some with multiple bombers. But Afghan
religious scholars say momentum is building against them.
One reason is because Mr. Abdulaziz does have influence on the
Taliban," says Mr. Firotan, who is a member of Afghanistan's Ulema
Council of Islamic scholars, which has long campaigned against
"The Taliban think we are their enemies, so they don't respect
our declarations," says Mr. Firotan. "But Mufti Aziz is respected by
them, and all around the Islamic world. It has influence."
The newsletter of Afghanistans religious scholars, called Al-
Islam, publicized the Grand Muftis high-profile pronouncement
against suicide bombing.
Invoking the Muslim prophet Mohammed, Abdulaziz noted that
killing innocents has been forbidden for 14 centuries. He said
justifying suicide attacks in the name of religion was a "misuse" of
"Attacks, suicide attacks, and killing of the innocent have no
place in Islam, and whoever conducts these are not just deprived of
Paradise, but they will go to hell," Abdulaziz said according to Al-
Islam. "There is jihad in Islam, but it is very different from
killing of the innocent and suicide attacks [which does] not benefit
the people and humanity."
The Taliban claims it has not "officially" received Abdulaziz's
fatwa (or religious decree), says Firotan, but only heard about it.
'This is not the way'
The Quran makes clear that self-defense is acceptable, says
Firotan, providing "there is no other way to live, but that is not
the situation now."
For those who want to fight US forces, says Firotan, there are
methods. "But this is not the way to go to mosques, banks, bazaars,
or shops. There, are 100 percent, some Taliban who are [also]
against these actions."
As the Taliban has waged its insurgency in recent years, it has
also increasingly targeted civilians, along with US and NATO
military forces, Afghan security, and the government. …