Last Monday, the head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, issued a fatwa saying that it is permissible for anyone to kill the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi because of his mass murders and heinous crimes against the people of Libya.
As much as I agree that Gaddafi should be punished for his crimes against humanity, I am deeply disappointed that Sheikh Qaradawi would issue such a fatwa against him. Yes, Gaddafi has committed inhumane crimes against the Libyan people, but there should be due process for justice to be served.
Let Gaddafi be captured, detained, put on trial, be allowed to speak his defense (no matter how pathetic it will sound) and after he is prosecuted for his crimes, the court of law can decide his punishment, whether it be execution, life in prison, and so on.
Sheikh Qaradawi may not be advocating or encouraging Muslims to become vigilantes, but such a fatwa can be easily misconstrued, manipulated, and used against any leader (or any person for that matter) who is opposed, whether they are an oppressor or not.
Let us not forget Hazrat Uthman ibn Affan (RA), Hazrat Ali (RA), and Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with all of them) were all brutally murdered by early Muslims using justification from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Even when Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa for the immediate death of Salman Rushdie, author of the controversial book Satanic Verses, the scholars of Al-Azhar University rejected this fatwa saying someone cannot be sentenced to death unless and until they are put on trial and given the opportunity to defend their case, no matter how guilty they may seem.
Salman Rushdie’s book isn’t the same as Gaddafi’s mass murders, but the point is that it is invalid to sentence someone for anything unless they are put on trial under the court of law, not a trial by an individual or non-governing body.
The legal system and penal laws in Islam should never be put aside. If we don’t uphold due process, it can lead to an unjust system where the innocent will become victims as well. Muslim scholars need to be role models in not just peace, but also during peaceful revolutions and in the proper methods of establishing justice.