The Volokh Conspiracy

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ISIS apparently calling for murder of American professor


WMC-TV (Ursula Madden) reports:

ISIS is using its propaganda magazine in the name of Islam to call for the assassination of [Rhodes College Prof. Yasir] Qadhi.

"I was one two clerics that they targeted in their latest magazine, two American clerics, and basically called for my assassination," said Qadhi. "And they have said this is an act of of worship…..that if somebody kills me, God is going to reward them."

The Magazine calls for professor Qadhi's death and heavenly reward, followed by a photo, which states that Qadhi spoke against the terrorist attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The relevant passage seems to be:

Allah (ta'ālā) said, {And it has come down to you in the Book that if you hear the verses of Allah denied [by the kāfirīn] and ridiculed, do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together} [An-Nisā': 140].

Shaykh Sulaymān Āl ash-Shaykh (rahimahullāh) said, "The meaning of the āyah is apparent. It means that if a man hears the verses of Allah being denied and mocked and sits with the kāfir mockers without being coerced, without forbidding them, and without getting up and leaving until they change the subject, then he is a kāfir like them even if he does not do the same as them, because his remaining with them entails approval of kufr. And approval of kufr is kufr" [Ad-Durar as-Saniyyah].

If merely sitting silently with the kuffār during a gathering of kufr is kufr, how much more so is it to rally on behalf of a newspaper mocking the Messenger (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam)? Or give verdicts in defense of the newspaper, against the mujāhidīn who killed those who mocked the Messenger (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam)? Or raise banners and slogans with the words "Je Suis Charlie" on them? There is no doubt that such deeds are apostasy, that those who publicly call to such deeds in the name of Islam and scholarship are from the du'āt (callers) to apostasy, and that there is great reward awaiting the Muslim in the Hereafter if he kills these apostate imāms…

The passage is illustrated with a photograph of Prof. Qadhi, and the caption, "The murtadd Yasir Qadhi condemned the assault on Charlie Hebdo."

For those who are interested in the legal questions here, such speech is likely constitutionally unprotected, because it seems to be either solicitation of a crime against a specific person, United States v. Williams (2008), or a threat of violence against a specific person, United States v. Kelner (2d Cir. 1976) (which involved a threat to kill Yasser Arafat). The solicitation and threats First Amendment exceptions do not require that the speech solicit or threaten imminent crime against a particular named person. (When someone is generally praising the commission of a crime, with no specific target indicated, such speech is evaluated under the incitement exception, which does require an intent to promote imminent crime, coupled with the likelihood that such imminent crime will take place; see Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969). But that imminence requirement is not present for the solicitation and threats exception, at least so long as a particular target of the crime is named.)

But of course the important questions here are political, police, and military, not the legal ones: What can be done about such threats, which help show that what happened in France, Denmark and Bangladesh might easily happen here—and which jeopardize the very process of internal moderation of Islam that so many of us (both non-Muslim and Muslim) are hoping to see?

Thanks to Prof. Glenn Reynolds (InstaPundit) for the pointer.