Special Dispatch No.2944
May 10, 2010
On March 23, 2010, Saudi King ‘Abdallah instructed the Senior Clerics Council, the kingdom’s highest jurisprudential authority, to issue a fatwa (religious edict) on the funding of terrorism. In compliance with his order, the council held a secret three-day session April 10-12, 2010. The full text of the fatwa was published a month later, along with a letter from the king to Saudi Mufti Aal Al-Sheikh thanking him for drawing up the fatwa. In the letter, the king stated that funding terrorism is tantamount to engaging in terrorist activity, and expressed his appreciation for the scholars’ contribution to the struggle against “the deviant sect” (the common Saudi term for Al-Qaeda and for groups of similar religious and ideological orientation).
Citing evidence from the Koran and the Hadith, the fatwa stipulates that funding terrorism is forbidden not only in Muslim countries but everywhere, and that those who aid terrorism are just as culpable as those who actually carry it out. The fatwa sets a precedent by setting out a legal definition of terrorism, calling it a crime aimed at harming property and lives by targeting buildings and facilities, hijacking airplanes, etc. However, the fatwa does not specify the penalty for perpetrating these crimes.
According to the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia intends to use the fatwa as a legal basis for fighting domestic terrorism, and also intends to promote international laws against the funding of terrorism and to submit initiatives on the matter at international forums.
There have been numerous reactions to the fatwa in the Saudi press. In an article in the London daily Al-Hayat, Daoud Al-Shiryan, deputy secretary-general of Al-Arabiya TV, praised the Senior Clerics Council for taking a firm stand on terrorism and for clearly defining the concept – especially when so many clerics have refrained from doing so due to the difficult distinctions among the concepts of terrorism, jihad, and resistance. Some columnists stated that such a fatwa should have been issued long since; liberal intellectual Shaker Al-Nabulsi called it “an historical fatwa for which we have long been waiting,” and added that in recent years terrorism has spread in many Arab countries and that clerics must therefore condemn Muslim terrorists for killing their innocent Muslim brothers.
Saudi Mufti Aal Al-Sheikh rejected criticism that it had taken too long to issue the fatwa, saying that the issue was weighty and required careful consideration. He said that the Senior Clerics Council would forward its conclusions to other jurisprudential authorities around the Arab and Muslim world.
Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, applauded the Senior Clerics Council for examining the issue from every angle, for protecting Islam from those who exploit it for purposes of terror, and for promoting their country’s stability and security. He added that Muslim scholars around the world concurred with the fatwa.
The following is a translation of the letter of thanks by the Saudi king to Mufti Aal Al-Sheikh, and of the fatwa itself.
King ‘Abdallah in Letter to Mufti: Funding Terrorism Is a Heinous Crime
“Your Honor’s letter of April 13, 2010, which was accompanied by [the text of] Ruling No. 329 of the Senior Clerics Council, of April 12, 2010, has been brought to our attention. [This Ruling] prohibits the funding of terror in light of the corruption and insecurity it causes, and the harm [it causes] to lives, capital and property, both public and private. We thank Your Honor and the honorable members of the Senior Clerics Council for [issuing] a religious ruling, supported by citations and explanations, about this heinous crime [of funding terrorism], which goes hand in glove with the depraved crime of terrorism [itself], and which feeds [this crime] in attempt to sow destruction in the land, undermine security, threaten our resources, and harm our policy of moderation. Thanks be to Allah who gave us [triumph over this crime] and exposed its deception, allowed us to reach a consensus, and guided us in the right path – a clear path without uncertainty, which none may abandon lest they perish.
“The Almighty said: ‘This [Koran] is insight from your Lord, and a guidance and a mercy for a people that believe [Koran 7:203].’ We all crave the truth of Allah’s guidance, and may we excel in our words as we excel in our deeds. Allah bless you and your knowledge, and help you to stand up against the ideas of the deviant sect, and reveal the truth regarding it and regarding those who support it. We beseech Allah to protect our faith and our security, and to show us the truth and allow us to cleave to it, [just as He shows us] falsehood and allows us to avoid it – for His is the guardianship [of the truth] and the power [to divine it].
“The Honorable Mufti of our Kingdom has submitted to the Servant of the Two Holy Places, King ‘Abdallah bin ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Aal Sa’ud, a letter containing Ruling No. 239 of the [Senior Clerics] Council, of April 12, 2010, on this matter.
“Following is the text of Your Honor’s letter:
“From [Mufti] ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz bin ‘Abdallah bin Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh to Your Highness the Servant of the Two Holy Places, the Honorable King ‘Abdallah bin ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Aal Sa’ud, the Prime Minister, may Allah grant him success. Peace be upon you, and Allah’s mercy and blessings. I hereby inform Your Highness that the Senior Clerics Council, in an extraordinary meeting… examined the issue of the funding of terror in accordance with the instructions in your decree (No. 3027B) of March 23, 2010, and issued Ruling No. 239, of April 12, 2010, which addresses these same instructions. I hereby submit [the ruling] for your information and perusal, and beseech Allah to guide your steps and lead you to all that is favorable and desirable in His eyes, and assist you in doing what is good, for He is the best of supervisors. Following is the text of the ruling:”
“‘…The Senior Clerics Council refers [the reader] to its previous rulings and announcements in regard to the deeds of the corrupt of this world, who undermine security and desecrate the sanctities [of Islam] in Muslim and other lands…
“‘The council examined the [religious] law on [the issue of] funding terror, taking into consideration that [terrorism] is a crime aimed at bringing destruction by undermining security and harming lives, money, and property, both private and public. [This is achieved by means] such as blowing up homes, schools, hospitals, factories, and bridges; blowing up or hijacking airplanes; [sabotaging] the state’s infrastructure, such as oil and gas pipelines; and other acts of destruction and sabotage which are forbidden by [our] religion. [The council also] took into consideration that the funding of terror facilitates [this crime], perpetuates it and [allows it to] spread.
“‘The council likewise examined proofs for the ban on funding terror in the Koran, the Sunna, and in the precepts of the shari’a. As it says in the Koran, ‘Help not one another unto sin and transgression [Koran 5:2].’ And as it says, ‘And among men is he whose speech about the life of this world causes you to wonder, and he calls on Allah to witness as to what is in his heart, yet he is the most violent of adversaries. And when he turns back, he runs along in the land that he may cause mischief in it and destroy the crops and the cattle, and Allah does not love mischief-making [2:204-205].’ And as it says, ‘And do no mischief in the earth after its reformation, and call on Him fearing and hoping; surely the mercy of Allah is near to those who do good [to others] [7:56].’ And in [the compilation of hadiths called] the Sahih Muslim, it is related that the Prophet said, ‘Allah’s curse is upon he who harbors one who introduces [a forbidden innovation].’ As Al-Hafez bin Hajar explains in [his book] Al-Fath [Al-Bari fi Sahih Al-Boukhari], this means that both the innovator and he who gives him shelter are sinners in equal measure. One of the enduring principles of Islamic shari’a is that means are judged according to their ends, and according to what the shari’a decrees regarding the protection of rights and contracts in Muslim and [other] lands.
“In light of the above, the council determines that the funding and planning of terror are forbidden, and are punishable according to religious law – whether [the act in question is] providing funds, collecting funds, or taking part in these activities, in any way. [This applies] to both capital and non-capital assets, whether legitimately or illegitimately gained. One who carries out these acts knowingly is committing an offense that merits a religious punishment, to be determined by court proceedings. The council emphasizes that the prohibition on funding terror does not apply to support for charity programs providing livelihood, care or education for the poor – for Allah has commanded to use the wealth of the rich to aid the poor.
“With this fatwa, the Senior Clerics Council guides all Muslims to adhere to their religion and to the way of our honorable Prophet, and to avoid any act that harms others or [involves] hostility towards them. We beseech Allah to [bless] this good country of Saudi Arabia, and all the Muslim lands, with righteousness, justice, providence and unity, and to improve the state of mankind as a whole, so as to carry out justice and spread righteousness. It is Allah who brings success and guides [one] to the right path.
“Allah’s blessing be upon His Prophet Muhammad, his family, and all his Companions.”
 Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), April 14, 2010. According to the daily, senior officials denied reports that the Senior Clerics Council had also debated prohibiting takfir (i.e. accusations of heresy).
 Al-Hayat (London), April 14, 2010.
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 1, 2010.
 Al-Hayat (Saudi Arabia), May 8, 2010.
 ‘Okaz (Saudi Arabia), May 9, 2010.