Thursday, December 18, 2014


Gandhara

Haram Superpower

Pakistani Islamic scholars have issued a fatwa saying it is illegitimate to refer to the United States as a "superpower."
Pakistani Islamic scholars have issued a fatwa saying it is illegitimate to refer to the United States as a "superpower."
A clerical alliance in Pakistan has issued a religious decree (fatwa) saying that it is illegitimate (haram) to call the United States a "superpower" because "only Allah Almighty deserved the title."

Some of the same clerics once cherished Islamabad's friendship with Washington because the Americans (Jews and Christians) were “people of the book” and an alliance with them in fighting the godless communists in Afghanistan was halal (the Islamic equivalent of kosher or legitimate).

This fatwa was issued by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) on September 25 in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. The council is an alliance of the political parties of the moderate Sufi Barelvi clerics, who are often targeted by the Taliban. The Taliban are followers of the hard-line puritanical rival Deobandi sect. Some hard-line clerics in both sects regularly declare each other kafir, Arabic for infidel.

The alliance called for a "jihad against the U.S., in defense of the homeland." They also suggested a grandiose scheme for Pakistan's future foreign policy:

"The scholars called upon the government to end the country’s role as a front-line state in the so-called U.S. war on terror and try to establish a new bloc comprising China, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. They also urged the government to start preaching jihad in the way of God with the armed forces making preparations to counter any foreign aggression."

The mullahs probably don't know that China is a majority non-Muslim country. They are also seemingly unaware that one of Beijing's major security nightmares is the rising appeal of jihad among its minority Turkic Uyghur Muslims.

Beijing often traces extremism in the group back to Pakistan. Somebody in Islamabad needs to educate these Sunni clerics, who often condemn Turkey's secularism and Iran’s Shi'a theocracy in their Friday sermons.

Worse, their sermons and fatwas often encourage and motivate the killing of Shi'as, which are carried out with impunity.

Do these clerics really expect Ankara to break away from NATO and fight a jihad against the Americans?

And how exactly do they want to form an alliance with Afghanistan when the Afghans blame the Pakistani military for everything wrong in their country -- including the recent murder of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani?

The clerical alliance has called for a U.S. Condemnation Day on September 30. It’s too bad they didn’t call for a Let's Get Rational Day instead.

-- the author of this blog post wishes to remain anonymous
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About Gandhara

Gandhara is a blog dedicated to Afghanistan and Pakistan written by RFE/RL journalists from Radio Mashaal (Pakistan), Radio Azadi (Afghanistan), our Central Newsroom, and other services. Here, our people on the ground will provide context, analysis, and some opinions on news from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Send comments or questions to gandhara [at] rferl.org.