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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July 2005, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
The Theology of Terrorism
Dr Rowan Williams with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Dr David Coffey,  Sir Jonathan Sacks and Sheikh Dr Zaki Badawi
Do these men hold the key to ending terror?
BBC Radio 4's Analysis: The Theology of Terrorism, was be broadcast on Thursday, 21 July, 2005 at 20:30 BST.

In the wake of the London bombings, Tony Blair claimed that the perpetrators were motivated by "a perverted and poisonous interpretation of Islam." But what does Islam really say about the use of violence?

In this week's Analysis, Edward Stourton tries to get beyond the often heard platitude that "Islam is a religion of peace" and the less often voiced but widely felt prejudice that because it was born in war Islam is a religion of the sword.

He examines the vigorous debates currently taking place within Islam on the theological limits of violent jihad. Even within the militant camp there are now deep divisions over whether terrorist tactics are justified. Some argue that a war against all non-Muslims and Muslim "apostates" is a religious duty. Others say that a war is only valid under recognised spiritual leadership and on Islamic territory. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most influential TV clerics, condemns 9/11 but supports suicide bombing in Israel. A fundamentalist leader in Britain preaches that all such attacks are against Islam.

Whilst some young Muslims are being drawn into support for terrorism, a number of former jihadists have been convinced that their old beliefs were a perversion of the true faith.

Edward Stourton talks to Muslim and non-Muslim experts on Islamic theology, to former mujahideen fighters and to a Yemeni judge who is attempting to tackle the would-be bombers on their own ground: belief.

Interviewees include:

Professor Tariq Ramadan, leader European Islamic scholar and author of To Be A European Muslim.

Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Waahid, Specialist In Islamic Affairs, Salafi Publications & Islamic Centre, Birmingham.

Dr Malise Ruthven, writer on Islamic affairs and author of AFury for God: The Islamist Attack on America.

Professor Richard Bonney, Director of the Centre for the History of Religious and Political Pluralism, University of Leicester and author of Jihad: from Qur'an to bin Laden.

Dr Maha Azzam, Associate Fellow, Middle East Programme, The Royal Institute of International Affairs.

"Khalid", former member of the Egyptian militant group Gamma Islamiya.

Noman Benotman, veteran of the Afghan Jihad, former member of the Shura Committee of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and founder member of the Libya Human and Political Development Forum.

Judge Hamoud al-Hitar, leader of Yemeni project to re-educate Al Qaeda prisoners in Islamic theology.

Presenter: Edward Stourton
Producer: Innes Bowen
Editor: Nicola Meyrick




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