The legal case in Sharia against terrorism
January 9, 2015 7:41 AM   Subscribe

What are the specific arguments from the perspective of mainstream or traditional Islamic jurisprudence that forbid or sanction terrorist attacks?

In light of recent events, it occurs to me that there aren't many resources to counter the opinions of those who think that Islam or Sharia advocates or condones terrorism (which well define here as non-state actors inflicting violence on non-combatants for political purposes, broadly understood). I'm especially interested in arguments that would make sense to people "on the fence" about whether such acts were permissible, as it were, but who want to act in accord with Sharia. (Disclaimer: I am not one of those people.)
posted by skoosh to Law & Government (6 answers total)
I was always taught (both in super conservative environments where genders are segregated to more liberal ones) that "shariah" includes that a Muslim never attacks someone else, with the exception of if in defense if they are physically being attacked. This was a lesson taught in conjunction with one of the battles that take place in Islamic history where this rule was followed.
posted by cacao at 8:27 AM on January 9, 2015

There is a Wikipedia article Islamic military jurisprudence with attendant citations that might be of interest.

It would appear that, just like Western secular and religious law, Islamic jurisprudence includes a concept of "just war" and a variety of related principles and conditions which I'd presume would be relevant to this question.
posted by XMLicious at 10:09 AM on January 9, 2015

Best answer: No, there are tons of resources countering terrorists' justifications. This is a big issue that's been debated for a long time by religious leaders, scholars, politicians—everyone. Maybe start with this letter condemning the Islamic State signed by 120 Muslim scholars and Prof. Alan Godlas' guide to jihad and Islam.
posted by JackBurden at 10:34 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Suicide is specifically forbidden in the Koran. The person committing suicide is said to relive the event for eternity. (I have this from The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:45 PM on January 9, 2015

Response by poster: These are all good starts, but scholarly legal arguments, especially those that cite their sources, are what I was getting at. I like the Juan Cole link ("scholars") from JackBurden because of its citations; something more along those lines would be nice.
posted by skoosh at 5:25 AM on January 17, 2015

Plugging a couple of the names and titles from the Wikipedia article citations into a casual Google search brought up this brief 2001 article in the LA Times:
Terrorism Is at Odds With Islamic Tradition
August 22, 2001|KHALED ABOU EL FADL | Khaled Abou El Fadl is an acting professor at the UCLA School of Law and author of "Rebellion and Political Violence in Islamic Law" (Cambridge University Press, 2001)
Here's a pertinent excerpt:
Modern Muslim terrorist groups are more rooted in national liberation ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries than they are in the Islamic tradition. Although these terrorist groups adopt various theological justifications for their behavior, their ideologies, symbolism, language and organizational structure reflect the influence of the anti-colonial struggle of the developing world. For instance, the groups often use expressions such as hizb (party), tahrir (liberation), taqrir al-masir (self-determination), harakah (movement), al-kawadir al-fa'alah (the active cadres) or harb muqaddasa (holy struggle). These expressions are imported from national liberation struggles against colonialism and did not emerge from the Islamic heritage.
Further up he also says that there's a "category of crimes of terror", so if you can find out what the word for that is I'd assume it could be helpful in your search.
posted by XMLicious at 12:01 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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