Robert Mcfarlane: A Fatwa Against Violence

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week, I participated in a three day meeting here that included six of the most senior Iraqi Sunni and Shia religious leaders. At the meeting, held at a Marriott hotel in a Cairo suburb, they formally agreed to "end terrorist violence, and to disband militia activity in order to build a civilized country and work within the framework of law."

This gathering was a truly historic event, given the authority of the participants -- including Sheikh Ahmed al Kubaisi, acknowledged by all Iraqis as the senior Sunni religious authority (the weekly audience for his Friday sermons, broadcast from Dubai, number 20 million), and Ayatollah Sayyid Ammar Abu Ragheef, chief of staff for Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, the acknowledged leader of the Shia community in Iraq and beyond. One has only to consider the power of these specific religious leaders, and the instruments at their disposal for getting results, to grasp the gathering's enormous potential importance.

Going well beyond traditional rhetoric in their closing statement late last week, they stated their intention to work for the early issuance of a joint Sunni-Shia fatwa to the Iraqi people. A fatwa such as this will carry the force of law for all followers. Think about that. After more than four years of brutal warfare and untold suffering, the leading religious authorities in Iraq have joined hands and said "Enough," and have committed to use their authority to bring peace to their country.

How does this relate to the Iraqi government and coalition forces? Can these clerics achieve anything concrete? If so how soon? And will it be enforceable?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsIraq War* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

Posted August 26, 2007 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Let us all pray that this fatwah is observed by the Iraqi people and that those continuing in violence in Iraq are marginalized and removed from the scene in Iraq by the Iraqis enforcing the fatwah.

Maybe, just maybe, the Iraqis have not only seen the ‘writing on the wall,’ they have also come to realize what kind of furure the current situation holds in store for them.

August 26, 3:47 pm | [comment link]
2. Katherine wrote:

They have seen the enemy, and it’s not us.  I pray this bears fruit.

August 26, 4:42 pm | [comment link]
3. Chris Taylor wrote:

This is a very significant development—let’s see if more of the mainstream media report it, or if they bury it under their constant drum beat of: “the surge isn’t working” (despite substantial evidence to the contrary), and “remember Vietnam.”  The President didn’t help recently with his own comments drawing parallel to Vietnam, but that’s another issue.  Iraq IS NOT Vietnam and ALL attempts to link the two should be resisted.  Nothing will make the situation in Iraq worse right now than precipitous talk of pulling out.  Whether you are/were in favor of our intervention in the first place or not, I can’t think of a worse strategy right now than a rapid draw down of troops or talk of pull out.  The current govt. there may well be a failure, but that won’t be fixed by our rapid withdrawl.  Unless you really want to see a bloodbath, what we need to do right now is keep the pressure on the insurgents (all of them!) and make it clear that we’re not going to abandon the people of Iraq to even more of a nightmare than they have already been through.  The surge is showing that Sen. McCain was right all along and our major mistake after the fall of Saddam Hussein was not having sufficient forces on the ground to crush various forces who were trying to ignite anarchy to drive us from the scene.  The Administration prepared for war they never had to fight against Saddam, and they didn’t prepare for a long-term occupation they should have seen would be inevitable.  Vietnam is not the model we should be thinking of, Kosovo and Bosnia are much closer to the mark.  The key focus of our policy going forward should be to internationalize the militiary force that will be needed in Iraq for years to come.  They should have done that properly before they went in, but better late than never.  Few others will want to come in until we get things more under control millitarily, but once we’ve completed the task of establishing a modicum of security it will be much easier to build an international coalition to maintain the security.  The greatest danger right now is that our own presidential election campaign will unravel the hard fought progress we’ve made since the Surge began.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle right now are putting their own political ambitions before what our national obligations now are.  Again, whether you were for or against the war, we went in there and once we did we undertook certain moral obligations that we must see through—and the Surge is showing that what is needed to see things through.

August 26, 5:59 pm | [comment link]
4. Bob from Boone wrote:

Fatwas against terrorist violence have been issued by various clerics since 9/11, but because Islam has no central spiritual or administrative authority, their success has been limited, if at all. This may well be different. If the joint fatwa against terrorism and sectarian violence is issued by Iraq’s senior clerics, it will put Al Qaeda in Iraq in a difficult position in the long run, and it may well help to bring about sectarian rapprochment. Wonderful that Canon White has been a major mover in this process. His courage is evident from the fact that he continues to work at this step even though his life has been threatened more than once.

August 26, 8:43 pm | [comment link]
5. Northern Plains Anglicans wrote:

It was good to read of Canon Andrew White’s positive role in this - makes it all the sadder should the Anglican Communion continue to splinter and discredit itself globally.

August 26, 11:59 pm | [comment link]
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