UAE religious and social leaders condemn Boko Haram’s actions

They say kidnapping and slavery are un-Islamic

By Amanda Fisher

Published: Sun 18 May 2014, 12:15 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 8:38 PM

Religious and humanitarian leaders in the UAE have condemned the Nigerian extremist group that kidnapped almost 300 schoolgirls as un-Islamic — saying they hope the action does not lead to copycat attacks.

International anti-slavery campaign Walk Free Foundation vice-chairman Raza Jafar, a Pakistani businessman based in Dubai, told Khaleej Times the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, a top-ranking Sunni Muslim authority in Egypt, had sent Walk Free a fatwa prohibiting slavery.

The Grand Imam, who condemned Boko Haram’s kidnapping of about 280 Government Secondary School schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, is supporting Walk Free’s Global Freedom Network, through which all major religious leaders, including both Sunni and Shia Muslims, and the Catholic and Anglican churches, are seeking to put a stop to slavery, Jafar said.

“As a part of that...we managed to request Al-Azhar issue a fatwa against slavery, stating Islam’s position against slavery.

“In that fatwa, it clearly says that Islam has given the right for human beings to have freedom clearly says the kidnapping of children and women is the worst kind of slavery you can imagine.”

The Grand Imam’s condemnation, during which he called for the immediate release of all girls and held the kidnappers responsible for any harm done to them, follows similar comments by the head of Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti.

Jafar, himself a Muslim, said most people in the world, aside from fringe extremists, would see Boko Haram’s actions as those of misguided Muslims, rather than blaming the religion.

“I don’t think it would be damaged by a person who obviously does not represent any religion in this world, even though he tried to use Islam as a reference.”

Instead of bringing harm, Boko Haram’s actions may have even acted as a catalyst to get the world to act together in unity, with prominent world leaders and celebrities alike speaking out against the tyranny.

“Boko Haram has done something that has brought the world’s attention to this issue a lot quicker than we anticipated, it has united the world against slavery.”

Dubai Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department Islamic Affairs Sector Chief Executive Dr Omar Al Khateeb said Boko Haram’s kidnappings were “not the way of true Islam”.

“Speaking generally for the kidnapping,, robbing, killing, all of these things...are against Islamic rules and principles, and against Islam’s way of dealing with humans...we are speaking about non-Muslims as well.”

This was well-documented in the Holy Quran, he said.

“Many people are (saying) they are Muslims but they are not acting in the right way of Islam. We cannot judge Islam...because of some people (when) they are acting against Islam.”

Boko Haram members were not only harming their own moral characters but also harming Islam. However, Al Khateeb said most people in the world were educated enough to know “these groups don’t belong to Islam”.

He was concerned other extremist groups may follow suit.

“Many bad ideas are sometimes (followed) up and we hope, inshallah, it will be the last one...and we hope, inshallah, it will not go to other groups.”

Al Khateeb said he hoped Boko Haram members would discover the tolerant and peaceful message of Islam.

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