Islamic scholars tired of conservative charges that Muslims in the United States constitute a radical fifth column bent on subverting American values and obligated by their religion to launch jihadist terror attacks are fighting back by issuing a fatwa.
The Islamic religious ruling, a "Resolution On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans," is a response to what its authors call "erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda" that has built up for a decade following the 9/11 attacks and subsequent terrorist plots by adherents of al-Qaida and other extremist groups. It was issued in Virginia late last month by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), a group of Islamic scholars who meet several times a year to draft opinions on issues of concern to American Muslims.
"As a body of Islamic scholars, we the members of FCNA believe that it is false and misleading to suggest that there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens," the fatwa declared.
"Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so long as there is no conflict with Muslims’ obligation for obedience to God. We do not see any such conflict with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The primacy of obedience to God is a commonly held position of many practicing Jews and Christians as well."
Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the nation, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, yet the fast-growing community has been a constant target of right-wing groups. From protests against the so-called "ground zero mosque," to efforts in more than a dozen states to ban Sharia law in courts, to recent Capitol Hill hearings on Islamic radicalization that brought comparisons to McCarthyism, Muslims have had to assert their loyalty.
And that troubles members of the Los Angeles Police Department, who in recent years have been at the forefront in building bridges to the Muslims in order to combat radicalization and enlist the community in the fight against terrorism.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and other law enforcement officials will attend a meeting Thursday at the Islamic Center of Reseda to talk about the new fatwa as part of his department's Muslim Community Forum. Muzammil Siddiqi, director of religious affairs of The Islamic Society of Orange County and the president of the Fiqh Council of North America, will be on hand to discuss the origins of the fatwa.
For many non-Muslims, perhaps the best-known fatwa was the one against author Salman Rushdie for his book "The Satanic Verses." Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared it blasphemous and called for Rushdie's death.
This new decree might face a warmer welcome.
"We’re always fighting two sides of extremism. There's the violent ideological side and the neo-conservative side that is creating hate campaigns against American Muslims ...which is a bunch of BS," said Michael Downing, commander of the LAPD's Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau. "The majority of American Muslims are as patriotic as you and I. This declaration says it is not a conflict to be a faithful Muslim and loyal American."