[Note: This fatwa as released by the Islamic Commission of Spain on March 11th, the anniversary of the train attack in Spain. The translation below is adapted from that provided on the website of The American Muslim.
In the Koran, The Book revealed to Humanity as a guide, God orders Muslims to acquire an excellence in ethical and moral behavior. Islamic morality rests on values such as peace, tolerance, mercy or compassion. The Koran reminds Muslims they are responsible before God for their behavior and treatment of all peoples; whether they are also Muslim or not.
In this sense, Muslims are forced to seek out good for themselves, their families, their neighbors and society in general. "Do good unto others as God has done unto you; and do not wish to plant the seeds of corruption upon Earth, for God does not love those who sow corruption. (28:77)." The term corruption includes here all forms of anarchy and terrorism that undermine or destroy peace and Muslim security. Muslims, therefore, are not only forbidden from committing crimes against innocent people, but are responsible before God to stop those people who have the intention to do so, since these people are planting the seeds of corruption on Earth. In reference to the treatment towards non-Muslims is verse 60:8 : As long as they do not fight you because of your religion nor expel you from your homes, you are not prohibited to treat them with the greatest deference (birr) or justice, since, God loves the righteous. The concept of "birr" in this verse makes reference to the way in which somebody must treat parents and relatives. The Prophet explains further in the two main collections of hadiths (Bukhari and Muslim) : "By God, those are not true believers who are feared by their neighbors for their malice." The Prophet even encouraged believers to be kind to animals and prohibited them from doing damage to or burden animals with work. A hadiz tells us of the time The Prophet said to a man who gave to drink a thirsty dog that he was pardoned of all his sins by this single action. It was asked to him then: "Oh Messenger of God, then will we be compensated by our kindness towards all animals?" The Prophet answered: "There is a reward for kindness towards any animal or human being". (Sahih Muslim, 2244, and Sahih Al-Bukhari, 2466).
The Koran does not encourage Muslims to return evil deeds with evil deeds; on the contrary, it calls believers to respond to evil deeds with good actions. "But (as) good and evil cannot be compared, counter evil with something better. Henceforth, he whosoever existed in enmity with you, shall become a true friend."(41:34). God also indicates in the Koran that the Garden (Paradise) has been prepared for those who work on His Cause, in days of prosperity and in days of deprivation; as well as for those who keep in check their wrath and pardon their neighbors, because God loves those who do good (3:135). "For those who persevere in doing good, the supreme good awaits them. Their faces will not be overshadowed by darkness or humiliation (in the Day of the Judgment). They are destined to Paradise, where they will reside (eternally)". (10:26). "Remember that any attempt to make up for evil can become evil. Therefore, those who forgive their enemies and make peace with them, will receive his reward from God, because certainly God does not love malefactors" (42:40). The hatred of God towards murder is manifested in the aleyas that speak of Abel in the Surah of the Served Table: "and Cain said: "Be certain that I will kill you" (5:27). To which Abel responded: "Even if you raised your hand to kill me, I will not raise my hand to kill you : in truth, I fear God, the Provider of all worlds." After the murder of Abel, God says: "We declare to the children of Israel that those who kill a human being - not being to punish murder or the plating of corruption on Earth-- will be treated as if they had killed all of humanity; and whosoever saves a life, will be treated as if they had saved the life of all of humanity."
Let it be noted that the reference to the children of Israel does not diminish the universal validity of its message. The Prophet also reminded us that murder was the second of the greatest sins (Sahih Al-Bujari:6871, and Sahih Muslim :88) that can be committed, and noticed that on Judgement Day, the first cases to be judged will be those dealing with bloodshed (Sahih Muslim:1678, and Sahih Al-Bujari: 6533). The own concept of war established in the Koran has an exclusively defensive tone: "and you fight for the cause of God against those who fight you, but you do not commit aggressions, since certainly, God does not love the aggressors" (2:190).
As Muhammad Asad in his tafsir (interpretation of the Koran) says: "Most commentators agree that the expression taatadu means, in this context, you do not commit aggression". The defensive character of combat "for the cause of God" - that is to say, because of the ethical principles ordered by God, is evident by the reference to "those who fight you...." and it is clarified furthermore in the verse 22:39 : "It is allowed (to fight) those who have injured them unjustly"; that it is, according to all our traditions our first (and therefore fundamental) Koranic reference to the question of jihad. Within the context of defensive warfare, The Prophet imposed strict limits destined to safeguard lives and property. Thus, the Prophet Muhammad prohibited to kill, in the case of warlike conflict, women, children and civilians (Sahih Muslim:1744, and Sahih Al-Bujari: 3015). He also said whosoever killed anyone who had signed a treaty or agreement with Muslims, would not smell the fragrance of Paradise (Sahih Al-Bujari:3166, and Ibn Mayah:2686). In light of these and other Islamic texts, the terrorist acts of Osama ben Laden and his organization Al Qaida --who look to fill with fear the hearts of defenseless people; who engage in the destruction of buildings or properties thus involving the death of civilians, like women, children, and other beings-- are strictly prohibited and are the object of a full condemnation from Islam. Therefore, the perpetration of terrorist acts under the pretext "of defending the oppressed nations of the world or the rights of Muslims" does not have any justification in Islam.
There is no doubt Muslims have the legitimate right to react against any aggression or any situation of oppression. Nevertheless, such reaction should not give rise to blind or irrational hatred: "you do not let your hatred towards those who prevent you access to the House of Inviolable Adoration (that is to say, to the fulfillment of your religious obligations) take you to transgression (the limits); but on the contrary, [it should encourage you to] collaborate in fomenting virtue and acknowledgment of God and not to collaborate in fomenting evil and enmity." (5:2) Likewise, the Koran indicates, in reference to those who hypocritically claim to follow the Bible, that whenever anyone lights the fire of war, God extinguishes it (5:64). God also condemns those nations that violate international treaties and initiate wars (8:56) and requests that everything is done to defeat them (8:60), but if they are inclined to peace, then Muslims will have to follow suit as well. (8:61).
Given all of this, it is necessary to point out that terrorism and extremism contradict human nature and the lessons of Islam. Muslims must know that terrorism is a threat against Islam and that it is damaging to our religion and to Muslims. A correct Islamic formation in Islamic universities will allow everybody to understand that Islam is a religion of peace and that it repudiates all acts of terrorism and indiscriminate death. The presence of signs like arrogance, fanaticism, extremism or religious intolerance in an individual or group, let us us know they have broken with Islam and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. The perpetration of terrorist acts supposes a rupture of such magnitude with Islamic teaching that it allows to affirm that the individuals or groups who have perpetrated them have stopped being Muslim and have put themselves outside the sphere of Islam. Such groups distort and manipulate basic Islamic concepts, like the one of yihad, by imposing upon them their particular interpretation and criteria.
In fact, groups that use names and languages relative to Islam, discredit with their actions the image of Islam and serve the interests of their enemies. Their actions incite islamophobia in countries in which Muslims are a minority, and destroy the relationships of cooperation and neighborliness between Muslims and non-Muslim. Their actions provide a false image of Islam, which is precisely what the enemies of Islam strive to offer to the world. These extremist groups bring indiscriminate death, even to other Muslims. We must remember here that The Prophet showed that Muslims who kill other Muslims turn kafir (unbelieving). In this same sense, if a Muslim or a group of them commit a terrorist act, this individual or group would be breaking the laws of Islam and leaving the guide of God and the way of the Din. "God does not grant his guidance to people who deliberately do evil." (9:109).
Heretofore we declare in good faith the following resolution:
1. That Islam rejects terrorism in all its manifestations, being the death or damage to innocent human beings or to their properties.
2. That Islam is the main victim of terrorist attacks made by some groups that falsely call themselves "Islamic", inasmuch as such attacks not only take the life of numerous Muslims, but because they also damage the image of Islam by fomenting feelings of islamophobia and serving the interests of the enemies of Islam.
3. That these groups try to conceal their deviation through falsehoods and manipulated interpretations of sacred texts, in an attempt to gain support among Muslims or to reclute new followers. This fraud must be denounced with force by the wise people and leaders of Islam worldwide
4. That those who commit terrorist acts violate Koranic teachings and thus turn apostates who have left Islam.
5. That the duty of every Muslim is to fight actively against terrorism, in accordance with the Koranic mandate that establishes the obligation to prevent corruption from overtaking the Earth.
Based on what has been exposed, it comes to dictate :
That according to the Sharia, all who declare halal or allowed what God has declared haram or prohibited, like the killing of innocent people in terrorist attacks, have become Kafir Murtadd Mustahlil, that is to say an apostate, by trying to make a crime such as the murder of innocents, halal (istihlal, to declare something forbidden permissible); a crime forbidden by the Sacred Koran and the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and save him.
As long as Osama ben Laden and his organization defend the legality of terrorism and try to base it on the Sacred Koran and the Sunna, they are committing the crime of istihlal and they have become ipso facto apostates (kafir murtadd), who should not be considered Muslim nor be treated as such.
To which we declare that Osama ben Laden and his organization Al Qaida, responsible for the horrible crimes against the innocents who vilely were assassinated in the terrorist attack of 11 March in Madrid, are outside the parameters of Islam; and the same goes to all who wield the Sacred Koran and The Prophet's Sunna to commit terrorist acts.
To which we declare that the alleged political reasoning by Osama bin Laden and his organization regarding the recovery of Al Andalus; having been made public and become well-known by all, completely contradict the divine will that has been expressed clearly through history; being that God is the Lord of History and everything that happens, has happened or will happen; that he is Divine Aim and Favor and must be considered as such in any event by Muslims, for whom God is Giver of Goods; and that not even the best of conspirators are creatures with the capacity to judge or question what the the Divine Will has decreed.
The tragedy of Al-Andalus, the genocide of Muslims and their expulsion from Spain, the natural mother country of all of them, is to be judged by God alone; and to the servant, to accept the Divine Decree and be thankful.
In reference to the breach of the Capitulations of Santa Fe signed by the Catholic King and Queen and the King of the Islamic Kingdom of Granada, we declare that with the signing of the Agreements of Cooperation of 1992 --between the Spanish State and the legal representatives of the Spanish Muslims known as The Islamic Commission of Spain-- it is taken as conclusive all vindication of legal or political type, whereas the Agreement recognizes in its introduction that "Islam is part of the identity of Spain". This recognition, along with what is stipulated in the Agreement, settles definitively the issue from a legal or political point of view.
The Agreement of Cooperation of 1992 is the new frame we have given ourselves to bring together the Spanish State and Spanish Muslims. The Agreement represents the explicit will of Spanish Muslims; and nobody outside of this community, whether they are called Bin Laden or al-Qaida or by any other name, has the right to meddle with the matters of our Islamic community.
Based on this fatwa, we have requested the national government and Spanish mass media to stop using the words Islam or Islamic to describe these malefactors, given they are not Muslim nor have any relationship with our Umma or Islamic Community; instead needing to call them al-Qaida terrorists, but without using Islamic as an adjective, since as it has been declared above, they are not legally so.
Likewise, we ask those in charge of mass media to acknowledge what has been stated here and to proceed from now on under the criteria exposed above; particularly, by not tying Islam nor Muslims with any terrorist acts; especially if the acts appear dressed with any Islamic language or pretension.
Mansur Escudero Bedate Secretary General of The Islamic Commission of Spain In Cordova, 11 March 2005
[See the URL link for original Spanish Language ruling.]