Saturday, March 23, 2013

Suicide Bomber Murders Syria's Top Cleric Friend of People of the Book


By Chriss Street

Syria’s top Muslim cleric, Dr. Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, and at least 15 other people were killed yesterday when a suicide bomber attacked them while praying inside the al-Eman Mosque in Damascus.  Dr. Al-Bouti was a friend of Christians, who the Koran refers to as ‘‘ People of the Book’’, and opposed the radical Saudi Arabian form of Sunni Islam that preaches Jihad as a military requirement that all Muslims must participate in to force conversion of all non-believers.

Dr. al-Bouti, and at least 15 other people were killed today when a suicide bomber attacked al-Eman Mosque in Damascus.  The Syrian rebels justified their attack as eliminating one of the most senior pro-regime Sunni clerics in Syria.  But Dr. al-Bouti was rated 23rd in most influential Muslims of 2009 and was the author of forty books on science, religion, literature, philosophy and sociology.  

He spoke fluent English, Turkish and Kurdish and was internationally respected as head of the Department of Beliefs and Religions in Damascus and a Fellow of the High Council of the University of Oxford. 

Muhammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti was a writer who was known for research methodology and personal humility.  As a representative of the Muslim Traditional School of the Middle East, he was strongly opposed to the fundamentalists of Saudi Arabia, which he referred to as the most dangerous innovation threatening Sharia Law.  In one of his books, he accused the Salafist for manipulating the modern term “jihad” to serve their personal interests and desires for power.  His books and essays analyzed the foundations of Islamic Civilization and their relationship to the modern world.

In June 2010, he remarked regarding Islam and good relationships with Christians:

“Jihad means to its exact meaning, the struggle for the cause of God and the establishment of an Islamic society, the fight is itself an aspect of this struggle, it aims to establish an Islamic nation authentic. regard to its stages: the Jihad, as we have seen, was early the Islamic era, a call to Islam involving the need to resist difficulties and hardships by peaceful means.  At a next step, Islam gave the legitimate struggle of all those that prevent the establishment of an Islamic society, especially atheists, idolaters and polytheists because of their possible integration Islam. As people of the book [Muslim term for Christians],  they can coexist with Muslims as long as they comply with the laws that govern Muslim society and join the Islamic nation by paying the government a tribe, the equivalent of Zakat [tax for the poor] imposed on Muslims.”

On June 2011, Dr. al-Bouti published a fatwa forbidding military killing civilians on both sides of the Syrian Civil War.  But the most recent estimate by the United Nation’s Observer estimates 70,000 have died in the conflict and another 30,000 are missing.  Approximately 40,570 killed were civilians and 29,435 dead were armed combatants from the Syrian Army and rebel forces.  According to the UN, about 1.2 million Syrians are displaced within the country and over a million have fled to neighboring countries.

International organizations have accused both government and opposition forces of severe human rights violations and earlier this week there were reports that the rebel forces had used poison gas to attack a Syrian Army position.  But the murder of Dr. Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti inside an unarmed place of worship is a crime against humanity. Archbishop Luka al-Khouri, the General Vicar of the Orthodox Christian Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East said that the late scholar Dr. al-Bouti will remain the word of right that we have learned from.

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