Denmark: What is a fatwa?

A fatwa is an Islamic legal ruling. It can be a "death sentence", which in today's Muslim world actually means calling for an "open season" on somebody, but it doesn't have to be. It can technically be any decision on how to act in a specific case.

When the
Danish Islamic Society lost its court case against Pia Kjærsgaard, its leaders announced they will seek a fatwa. A fatwa for what?

This was Reuter's take on the story:

"We are very disappointed with the verdict and are considering an appeal," said Kasem Ahmad, a spokesman for the Muslim group. He added that the group would issue a fatwa, or religious edict, against Jyllands-Posten if it did not receive an apology from the paper.

"It's too early to say any details of the fatwa," Ahmad said. "The fatwa is the last step and will also satisfy Muslims in the Middle East."

The Copenhagen Post looks at it completely differently.

An Islamic organisation has indicated it will seek a fatwa to instruct it how to act after a court dismisses a libel suit against Danish People's Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard

The head of the nationalist Danish People's Party, Pia Kjærsgaard, was cleared Friday of libel charges filed by Muslim organisation Islamisk Trossamfund, prompting the organisation to seek a fatwa.

Islamisk Trossamfund also said Friday they would also seek a fatwa for Jyllands-Posten if the newspaper does not apologise for printing the cartoons or if there is no court judgement against the newspaper.

The though best-known fatwa involves was handed down to author Salman Rushdie, a fatwa does not necessarily involve a death sentence; it is the answer given by a mufti, an Islamic scholar, or an imam, to a question a Muslim poses about an interpretation of Islamic law.

Kassem Ahmad, spokesperson for the Islamisk Trossamfund, told TV2 News that he interpreted the court's ruling to mean that Kjærsgaard and others had free reign to say whatever they wanted about Muslims. He said that despite calling for a fatwa, the best way for Muslims to deal with insults against Islam is to ignore them.

'We have to ignore these types of things,' said Ahmad. 'We shouldn't waste our time on something so unreasonable. We have to silence these provocations to death.'

But, if the Danish Islamic Society is just seeking a fatwa in order to know how to act, why is it being phrased as a threat? I'm a bit unclear on the prepositions used. If the Fatwa is "for" Jylland-Posten, why isn't Jyllands-Posten asking for it themselves?

Besides, there's a little trivial issue that did not make it into either story: Didn't Jyllands-Posten already apologize?

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

See also: Denmark: Muslim group loses court case, threatens fatwa

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