A senior Jordanian Salafi sheikh has stirred controversy in the Muslim world in recent days after he issued a fatwa against killing Jews.
Sheikh Ali Halabi said in a video distributed via social media that Jews can be killed during war only, and that killing them at other times is a betrayal. When asked by a student if it is permissible to kill Jews in Palestine, the sheikh answered: "Someone who protects you, gives you electricity and water, transfers you money and you work for him and take his money - would you betray him, even if he was a Jew?"
According to the sheikh, killing is allowed during clashes or declared war, "But if you trust him and he trusts you, then it is forbidden to betray him. And therefore you are forbidden to murder him."
The Salafi sheikh provided an example from the period of the British Mandate in Palestine, when a well-known Saudi sheikh issued a ruling that agreements which preserve rights and prevent bloodshed must be honored. Halabi stressed that there is a difference between emotional outlook and outlook based on Sha'aria law.
When the sheikh was asked by a student about armed soldiers in the streets, he responded: "The same answer. Does a soldier holding a weapon in the street kill every Muslim he sees?" The student answered "No."
Another student asked if it was correct that "they (IDF soldiers) only attack if they are first attacked?" The sheikh answered: "I don't live in Palestine, but that is what the brothers there tell us. That he who does not attack Jews is not attacked in return."
Halabi said that he didn't want it to seem as if he was "defending the despised Jews. But this is the reality. Because if they would kill everyone they met, nobody would remain and the Palestinians would continue to escape to other countries in the world."
The video that went viral on social media caused a stir in the Muslim world, with activists attacking the sheikh and distributing videos in which IDF soldiers are seen in the West Bank "executing Palestinians under the guise that they tried to stab soldiers."
Halabi is one of the most well-known Salafi sheikhs in Jordan and he is the head of the Imam al-Albani religious studies center in Jordan.Video translation provided by MEMRI - The Middle East Media Research Institute