MAKKAH, 11 January -- Muslim scholars from around the world yesterday spelled out their definition of terrorism saying "it covers all acts of aggression unjustly committed by individuals, groups or states against human beings including attacks on their religion, life, intellect, property or honor".
They also said "any act of violence or threat ... designed to terrorize people or endanger their lives or security" also amounts to terrorism. "Damaging the environment and public or private facilities, and endangering natural resources" is equally an act of terror, as are "murder and banditry."
They, however, described acts by the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation as a form of jihad and legitimate self-defense and called for a joint effort to counter anti-Islamic campaigns.
The ulema said anti-Muslim media campaigns, which have risen following the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States, are being orchestrated by Zionist organizations and designed to "stir up prejudice, animosity, hatred and discrimination against Islam and Muslims by associating them with terrorism."
At the end of a six-day conference here of the Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence) Academy of the Muslim World League (MWL), the scholars called for distinguishing between acts of violence and legitimate self-defense by people under occupation. They said the best example of state terrorism is the "heinous terrorism currently perpetrated by Jews in Palestine" and the one exercised by the Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina. "This is the most dangerous (type of) terrorism to world peace and security and its confrontation is a just self-defense and jihad in the way of Allah."
The scholars called on nations and people of the world to distinguish between legitimate jihad against oppression and acts of aggression and violence. "Jihad is meant for upholding right, ending injustice, ensuring peace and security and establishing mercy. Terrorism and violence committed by the aggressor who usurp the land, desecrate holy sanctuaries and loot wealth cannot be compared to the practice the right of legitimate defense as used by the oppressed seeking to gain their legitimate rights to self-determination."
"Failure to apply justice in solving human conflicts while pursuing a policy of arrogance and force in international relations is one of the causes behind many wars and conflicts. Indifference toward solving the Palestinian problem on just principles has created a focus for conflict and violence," the scholars said in a communiqu issued at the end of their conference.
The definition of terrorism also includes destruction of the environment and private or public facilities as well as endangering national resources. All these acts are types of mischief on earth which Allah the Almighty commanded Muslims against committing, said the statement. "Allah has promulgated severe and deterrent punishment for terrorism, aggression and mischief including execution, crucifixion, the cutting off of hands and feet and exile from the land."
The delegates discussed and issued judgments on a number of issues facing modern day Muslims that relate to medicine, cosmology, economics and finance. The conference said the anti-Islamic campaigns seek to convince Western communities that Islam is the new enemy that replaced communism. They intend to stir up crusade-like sentiments in the minds of Western nations and encourage them to adopt policies projecting Western domination over Islam, incite prejudices and racial discrimination against Muslims communities and minorities and promote the clash of civilization theory. The scholars also urged Muslim minorities in non-Islamic countries to "abide by the rules of residence and citizenship and uphold public order in these countries."
The call for a clear definition of terrorism to ward off the malicious campaign against Islam and Muslims came from MWL Secretary-General Dr. Abdullah Al-Turki, who said it was the duty of Muslim scholars to work out a comprehensive and objective definition for terrorism and clarify this concept for Muslims. The definition will be distributed to governments and Islamic and international establishments concerned with world peace and security.
The conference was opened by Makkah Governor Prince Abdul Majeed, on behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd with a call for Muslim unity. Scholars were urged to explain to the world the tolerant and accommodating nature of Islam.
The Kingdom's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Al-Sheikh, described the campaign against Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries as criminal. Muslim scholars, and intellectuals as well as the leagues and councils they belong to are duty bound to defend Islam and Muslims and enlighten both Muslims and non-Muslims on the reality of matters, said the statement.