Over 300 Islamic clerics from Somalia and the diaspora have issued a fatwa denouncing religious extremism in all its forms and urged the public to support the ongoing Federal Government of Somalia (FGS)–led offensive against Al-Shabaab and other terror groups.
The clerics issued the edict on Thursday in the capital, Mogadishu, after four days of deliberating on religious extremism.
The 14-point declaration emphatically denounced Al-Shabaab, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other like minded groups saying their extremist ideology had no religious basis and branded them enemies of Islam.
“The conference unanimously agrees that Al-Shabaab, ISIS and other like-minded groups have deviated from the true teachings of Islam and that they are considered enemies of the Islamic religion and the Somali population,” said Dr. Osman Maalim Mohamud from Saudi Arabia who read the declaration in the company of other ulema (clerics).
They also warned against financing extremist groups, providing them refuge and seeking justice in their courts. “Fighting extremism is a duty of every Muslim in Somalia who would love to live in a peaceful and secure country,” the clerics said.
The religious scholars thanked individuals who shared information about the militants with the authorities. They described them as nationalists who had the best interest of the country.
The four-day conference opened on 23 January and was facilitated by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowment of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). Religious Affairs Federal Minister, Sheikh Mukhtar Roobow Ali, thanked the clerics for heeding the government’s call to attend the conference and give their verdict on extremism in accordance with the true teachings of Islam.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, the Prime Minister, H.E. Hamza Abdi Barre, welcomed the declaration and thanked the clerics for their selfless service to the country, promising full implementation of the fatwa.
He urged the Somali population to heed the clerics’ clarion call so the country can enjoy peace, prosperity, and development. “I welcome the conference and the outcome.
The declaration issued was carefully thought through and indeed addresses the many challenges our people face today. It was important for the clerics to clarify the truth,” said the Prime Minister.
“I want to promise here, since this conference was also officially opened by the President, that the government will implement the outcome of this conference. As Head of the Executive, I promise you all that we will fully implement decisions reached here,” he added.
The Chairman of the Somalia Religious Scholars Council, Sheikh Bashir Ahmed Salaad, urged the youth who are still fighting for the terror groups to lay down their arms and stop shedding the blood of their fellow countrymen and women. “I want to tell the brainwashed youth to stop destroying your own people’s properties, maiming and killing them. You still have a chance in the sight of God to seek forgiveness. We, the public, are ready to forgive you,” Sheikh Bashir said.
The declaration also had specific recommendations for the government, politicians, Somali security forces, business people and the public. Among the recommendations are the creation of a religious council, financial support for religious programmes to effectively fight extremism, and proper Federal and State government support to reconciliation and peacebuilding initiatives.
The clerics also called for similar events every year to provide guidance on religious matters and other issues that impact the public. Representatives from various Somali women groups participated in the deliberations and shared their perspectives on the challenges facing women in the country.