Dato' Dr Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti BA (Queen's), MA (Oxon), MSt (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon), MSIEPM - also known as Shaykh Afifi - is KFAS Fellow in Islamic Studies at theOxford Centre for Islamic Studies, and Islamic Centre Lecturer in Islamic Studies at theFaculty of Theology, University of Oxford, and is a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. He is the first ever Malay to be appointed to such a position in this world famous University.He has received widespread media recognition across the globe.
Dr al-Akiti completed his DPhil in Medieval Arabic Philosophy from Oxford University as a Clarendon Scholar in 2008. His thesis identifies and systematically considers for the first time a group of philosophical writings, called the Madnun corpus, attributed to Islam's greatest theologian, al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111) - his discoveries are based on a painstaking survey of nearly 50 medieval Arabic manuscripts. Besides acquainting scholars with this remarkable new body of source material, his three-volume study presents a critical edition of the most advanced and technical work of this corpus, the manual on metaphysics and natural philosophy called the Major Madnun.
Dr al-Akiti, who comes from Malaysia, is trained as a theologian and philologist in both the Islamic and Western traditions: educated originally at the feet of the ulema of the Muslim world, he subsequently received a First Class degree in Scholastic Philosophy and History of Science from the Queen's University Belfast, where he was awarded various scholarships to read for his Masters and Doctoral degrees at Oxford. His areas of expertise are Islamic theology, philosophy and science.
Dr al-Akiti is listed in The 500 Most Influential Muslims for 2010. In 2009, along with Professor Muhammad Abdel Haleem and theIIIT, Dr al-Akiti was shortlisted for the Annual UK Muslim Awards, in one of its 15 coveted Awards for Excellence, the Allama Iqbal Award for Creativity in Islamic Thought. In 2011, Dato' Dr Afifi Al-Akiti was conferred the title Darjah Paduka Mahkota Perak which carries the title "Dato'".
On 23 July 2005, just days after the 7 July London bombings, Shaykh Afifi wrote Defending the Transgressed by Censuring the Reckless against the Killing of Civilians (Arabic: Mudafi' al-Mazlum bi-Radd al-Muhamil 'ala Qital Man La Yuqatil), in the forward of which, was described by Shaykh Gibril Haddad as a "fatwa or 'response by a qualified Muslim scholar against the killing of civilians". Furthermore:
Upon reading Shaykh Afifi's fatwa do not be surprised to find that you have probably never before seen such clarity of thought and expression together with breadth of knowledge of Islamic Law applied (by a non-native speaker) to define key Islamic concepts pertaining to the conduct of war and its jurisprudence, its arena and boundaries, suicide bombing, the reckless targetting of civilians, and more.
This work was first published and became freely available on the Internet. It was written in response to a statement issued by the radical group al-Muhajiroun, which refers to the 9/11 hijackers as the "Magnificent 19", and claims that while Muslims who live in the West are not allowed to wage war against the government, Muslims who live elsewhere do not face the same prohibition. In fact, the leader of al-Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri Muhammad, even argues that the British government had broken a supposed "covenant of security" with its Muslim citizens when it embarked on its anti-terror crackdown by introducing anti-terror legislation and indefinite detention of terror suspects. British Muslims therefore had every right to consider themselves at war with the government, he claims. Countering this argument, Shaykh Afifi says that Omar Bakri has no authority to issue such a war directive as only a Muslim government could issue one. If a Muslim were to carry out such an attack, he would be a murderer and not a martyr or hero.
As a result of its huge online popularity, Defending the Transgressed was subsequently published as a book by Aqsa Press (Birmingham) and Warda Publications (Hellenthal, Germany) in September 2005. A year later the Defending the Transgressed appeared (as second edition) in The State We Are In  - a collection containing contributions on the same topic by other notable Muslim scholars, including the likes of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah. Its third edition is published in 2009 as part of the Oxford Amnesty Lectures(OAL) 2006 series, War Against Terror.
The Defending the Transgressed has to date received critical acclamations by Muslim as well as non-Muslim sources; some of those reviews are reproduced here:
- Shaykh al-Akiti’s scholarly refutation of the religious “basis” of terrorism.
- The Fatwa for the protection of civilians.
- An excellent piece to provide a clear and credible answer to the tragedy of terrorism.
- The author of the article (who is himself a Muslim scholar) tackles the arguments of those who condone the killing of non-combatants head-on, refuting their arguments with proof and evidence from the Shariah. This is very important to do so. The fatwa issued by CAIR, though correct, fails to address the arguments of the other side. It is important to address any such arguments so that the masses (Muslim or otherwise) learn what exactly is Islam's position on this subject.
- Suicide bombing is an innovated practice that has no basis in Islamic law. Particularly when targeted against innocent non-combatants it is a fundamental violation of Islam’s understanding of justice. ‘No soul is guilty of the sins of another’ (Holy Qur'an, chapter 6 verse 163). ‘Do not kill yourselves’ (Holy Qur'an, chapter 4 verse 29). For more, see my essay ‘Bombing without Moonlight’ and the more technical Sharia discussion by Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti).
- This is the most comprehensive legal articulation of the traditionalist Islamic rules of war that I have seen in some time.
- Why is life so cheap these days? I agree wholeheartedly with this fatwa against the targeting of innocent civilians, put forward by Shaykh Muhammad Afifi Al-Akiti, and I think if you spend some time reading it, you too would realize how true it is.
- The Scholarly Answer to Why Suicide Bombing is Forbidden in Islamic Law!
- A very timely, relevant and detailed anti-terrorism fatwa
- Ma sha Allah, is about all I could say whilst reading it: a work of scholarship and insight. It's uplifting to know that our Sacred Law (Shariah) is still alive and that its scholars are still hard at work (may Allah support them in their labours).
- The best scholarly argument against suicide attacks both generally and specifically regarding Israelis is the fatwa written by Shaikh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti.
- One can have no truck with terrorist methods in any circumstance. Islamic law is clear on this point: the lives of civilians, non-combatant and off-duty soldiers and reservists are held to be inviolable, as is reiterated in a detailed refutation of suicide bombing by Sheikh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti. Once the political rationale is made that this is permitted because an oppressed people are weak and have no military alternatives, then the tactic gets taken up elsewhere on the same rationale. Therefore, in accordance with a primary purpse of Islamic law, which is to protect human life, there are no exceptions anywhere.
- Bin Laden’s religious language supporting homicide bombings and “jihad” are also easily deconstructed by these two publications (among others), Defending the Transgressed and The Hijacked Caravan. In short, OBL displays absolute religious hypocrisy by cloaking himself in the mantle of champion of Islam, yet failing to abide by some of its most basic principles. He is a disgrace and should be properly condemned by all true Muslims. For solid deconstructions of the “religious” justifications for suicide bombings and jihad, see these two detailed publications
- This fatwa undeniably is well researched, thought of, explained and articulated. Its more authoritative, consistent and credible a source than what many contemporary equals tends to be. A must have and a must read for all politicians, journalists, everyone else who want to publicly quote or evaluate principles on warfare in Islam.
- In rebuttal of the so-called "Jihadi" understanding of jihad it addresses most, if not all, of the questions and issues that are commonly brought up by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It is also one of the best proofs of the relevancy and authority that traditional Islamic jurisprudence still has in the modern world in the hands of those who actually understand it and have the ability to use it with proficiency.
- I think it is clear [that] Akiti's refutation that the Muslim extremists have absolutely no theological ground to stand on and are instead misinterpreting and cherry picking the Qur'an and Islamic tradition to support an indefensible extremism...Furthermore, I think Akiti's position makes it clear beyond doubt that Islam does not justify the murder of innocents, nor unprovoked attacks on non-Muslims, nor terrorism, nor any of the other slanders that many in the Western media have attributed to Islam.
- Subhan Allah, this is what we need: really! Our ulema need to be focusing their energy on the task at hand, and so release fatwas of such clarity that there is no room for ambiguity, no room for discussion...I pray to God Almighty that he bestows on our Ummah many more alim such as Shaykh al-Akiti who are brave enough to pick up the gauntlet thrown by the traitors of our religion, and, to use a term from our land, “send them packing”
- This wonderful piece of work spells out in very clear language why suicide bombing and the killing of civilians is completely prohibited in Islam and anyone who suggests otherwise(like the morons of Al Mahajaroon-who I think should be banned alongside the vile BNP) are misguided and /or heretics....would recommend everyone read this as to understand the real doctrine of Islamic etiquette vis a vis war.
- [This] is a brilliant fatwa by Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti denouncing terrorism and its abhorrent participants. His legal reasoning and clarity is simply amazing, a clear indication of the rigorous nature of traditional Islamic jurisprudence.
- Defending the Transgressed, published in the wake of the July 2005 London bombings, is the most comprehensive critique of Islamist violence and, in particular, the innovation of suicide bombings...Al-Akiti is a scholar who denounces Islamist terrorism, with unrivalled eloquence, passion and intellectual acumen. He has no political or sectarian agenda...His fatwa is a bold and necessary step in the right direction. When it comes to suicide bombing, there is no room for ifs, buts or maybes.