Syed Soharwardy, Muslim cleric, issues fatwa against ISIS
Imam says group's violent ideology is violation of Islam
Imam Syed Soharwardy of Calgary has issued a religious edict, or fatwa, against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its recruitment efforts in Canada.
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Soharwardy is head of the Calgary-based Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, a group he founded in 2000. He is also the founder of Muslims Against Terrorism and has worked to prevent the radicalization of youth in Canada.
He says what ISIS teaches its followers violates the Qur'an.
"It is based on their own political ideology and it is based on greed or temptation to control the area," he said.
"They are not sincere with Islam."
Soharwardy's fatwa was supported 38 imams and Islamic scholars. With the exception of one American, they are all based in Canada.
'Standing up against this evil'
However, he said threats of retaliation are making some Muslim leaders reluctant to speak out against ISIS.
"In my opinion I am doing the right thing standing up against this evil which is not only disturbing the peace of the world but is also responsible for killing thousands and thousands of Muslims around the world," he said.
Soharwardy says he is not worried about being targeted by followers of ISIS in Canada.
Fatwas are religious rulings made by scholars to clarify issues under Islamic law.
Similar fatwas regarding ISIS have been issued by Muslim scholars in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Great Britain.
Oren Steinitz, a professor of religious studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, says the real force a fatwa has is provided by the number of people following the imam who issues it.
While the strength of today's fatwa may be unclear, Steinitz says it carries an important message.
"He is putting ISIS in the same rubric as the most radical group that Islam has ever had," he said.