SOME of Britain’s most influential imams have condemned British Muslims fighting alongside Isis extremists in Iraq and Syria.
The fatwa ”religiously prohibits” would-be British jihadists from joining “oppressive and tyrannical” Isis, also known as Islamic State. The imams order all Muslims to oppose Isis’s “poisonous ideology” , especially when it is promoted within Britain.
The fatwa, the first of its kind issued by British Muslim scholars, follows the elevation of Britain’s terror threat from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely”.
Senior officials revealed last night that the prime minister would announce plans tomorrow for laws to prevent British jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria from re-entering Britain. Passports of UK citizens suspected of terrorist activity will be cancelled.
The fatwa has been issued after criticism that British Muslim leaders have not done enough to condemn aspiring jihadists who have travelled to fight for Isis, or those supporting its ideology in the UK.
It says Muslims have a “moral obligation” to help the Syrian and Iraqi people but “without betraying their own societies”.
It says: “British and other EU citizens are bound by their duties to their home countries according to Islamic theology and jurisprudence: it is therefore prohibited (haram) to travel to fight with any side in Syria.” The fatwa was written by Sheik Usama Hasan, a former imam at the Masjid Al-Tawhid Mosque in east London.
Six senior Islamic scholars from Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester and London have endorsed it.
They include Sheik Qamaruzzaman Azmi, secretary general of the World Islamic Mission, and Sheik Muhammad Shahid Raza, executive secretary of the UK Muslim Law Shariah Council and head imam at Leicester Central Mosque.
Raza said the fatwa was “very important. Many scholars from diverse theological backgrounds and schools are supporting it so it carries a lot of weight. I hope that our young people will listen to what we are saying in this statement. The fatwa will work to provide a better environment for safety and security.”
Mufti Abdul Kadir Barakatullah, a member of the UK Shariah Council, supported the fatwa but said it was important to allow young British Muslims to travel to Syria to work safely on humanitarian missions.
“We oppose Isis, and anybody who is supporting Isis will see our position,” he said. “Fighting is only exacerbating and prolonging the suffering.”
Jack Straw, the former Labour home secretary whose Blackburn seat has a large Muslim population, welcomed the statement.
He said: “ The medieval barbarity of Isis and its ilk is completely contrary to Islam. It’s crucial that members of the faith find their voice to condemn their apostasy.”
Baroness Warsi, the former Foreign Office minister, said: “These are substantial figures and I welcome this announcement. The Islamic State is neither a state nor Islamic. I echo the words of these religious leaders.”
The list of senior Muslim clerics who have endorsed the fatwa so far:
Sheikh Mohammad Shahid Raza OBE
Executive secretary of the Muslim Law (Shariah) Council of UK
Head Imam at Leicester Central Mosque
Sheikh Qamaruzzaman Azmi
Secretary general of the World Islamic Mission
Head Imam at Manchester Central Mosque
Sheikh Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Co-director of The Association of British Muslims
Sheikh Dr Qari Mohammad Asim MBE
Head Imam at Makkah Masjif, Leeds
Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan
Author of the Isis fatwa
Former Imam at Masjid Al-Tawhid Mosque, Leyton
Head theologian at the Quilliam Foundation
Mufti Abu Layth
Founder of The Islamic Council UK