Indonesian Council of Ulama Fatwa No. 3 of 2004 on Terrorism

This fatwa acknowledges the scourge of terrorism that has recently affected many countries, including Indonesia. It also acknowledges the perceptions held by some that terrorism reflects Islamic techings, that Muslims should be approached with caution, and that acts of terror constitute jihad.

The fatwa considers that terrorism, according to Islamic fiqh, constitutes piracy/unlawful warfare (hirabah). It determines that terrorism is a crime against humanity and civilisation that constitutes a serious threat towards state sovereignty and security, to world peace, as well as to societal welfare. It is transnational organised crime that can be categorised as an extraordinary and indiscriminate crime.

The fatwa distinguishes between terrorism and jihad, stating that terrorism is:

  1. designed to cause damage (ifsad) and anarchy/chaos (faudha);
  2. intended to create fear and destroy others; and
  3. conducted without regulation and limits.

Meanwhile, it states that jihad:

  1. brings about improvements (ishlah), albeit via warfare;
  2. intends to enforce the religion of Allah and/or defend the rights of the oppressed; and
  3. is conducted pursuant to regulations specified by shari'a with a clear enemy in mind.

Legally, the fatwa states that acts of terror are forbidden (haram), while acts of jihad are obligatory (wajib). Persons that commit suicide do so for personal reasons and are pessimists, while martyrs do so as a victim for their religion and the Muslim people, with the intent of obtaining the mercy and pleasure of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Suicide bombing is, therefore, forbidden (haram), regardless of whether it is committed in a peaceful area or in a warzone. Martyrdom, however, is permitted.

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