A New Tactic For Iraq? Perhaps a Muslim Scholar Has the Answer

Writing in Time Magazine for the October 23, 2006 issue, Leslie H. Gelb lamented “To me the relentless mud slide of insurgency and civil war in Iraq is leading to unacceptable strategic disaster for the U.S. There appear to be no viable paths to avoid it.”

This is a common theme used throughout both the print and electronic media today. If the American press were commanding the war in Iraq, we would already have bowed our heads in defeat.

Since that attitude is so prevalent among news outlets and publications, it was refreshing to hear a relatively simple, but thought-provoking suggestion offered on Fox News Live, October 20, 2006. Ghazal Omid, a Muslim scholar was a member of a panel that fielded questions about the war. When asked about the impossible insurgency situation, she suggested we put resolution to that element of the conflict in the hands of Iraq’s religious leaders.

Omid suggested the government should bring together the religious leaders from across Iraq, making sure both Sunni and Shiite factions were represented. Further, she argued, our leadership should use whatever persuasive measures they could command to have these Islamic religious leaders issue fatwa’s against insurgency. She said, “If they issued a fatwa that said you can’t go to heaven if you kill other people, that would put a stop to it at once.”

In the western world we still know very little about Islam and the issuing of judgments on Sharia (Islamic) law. Usually a fatwa is a request of a person in authority to settle a question where “fiqh” or Islamic jurisprudence does not define an issue.

For example, religious leaders in Iran have declared that the use of nuclear weapons is opposed to shria or against Islamic law. However, Mohen Gharavian issued an Iranian fatwa permitting the use of nuclear weapons. It stated that nuclear weapons as a counter-measure is acceptable in terms of shria, depending upon why the weapons were used. Such a fatwa makes nuclear weaponry acceptable to those of a strong religious persuasion.

In those countries where Islamic law is the foundation for civil law the religious leadership nationally debates any meaningful fatwa before it is issued. Because of this, fatwa are rarely contradictory. However, the individual is free to accept or reject the fatwa. Thus, a Sunni might reject a fatwa issued by a Shiite cleric and vise versa. For this reason, clerics of both religious factions in Iraq would need to agree on issuance of fatwas that delivered identical messages.

Our governmental leadership is always telling us they wish the Muslim community would become more actively involved in this conflict. Here is one Muslim that is trying to do just as they have requested. Perhaps our government should now act on the suggestion of Ghazal Omid. It would certainly do no harm.

Iraq Time

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