A council of Muslim scholars in the United States has issued a religious ruling, or fatwa, against terrorism and extremism.
The Muslim scholars released the ruling during a press conference in Washington, saying that Islam condemns terrorism, religious radicalism and the use of violence.
The scholars serve on the Fiqh Council of North America, an association of Muslim jurists who interpret Islamic law.
The council's chairman, Muzammil Siddiqi, read the fatwa, which says "targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is forbidden, and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not martyrs."
"All acts of terrorism targeting the civilians are haram, forbidden in Islam. It is haram, forbidden, for a Muslim to cooperate or associate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence," he said.
The fatwa also says it is the "civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of civilians."
The Islamic scholars say the fatwa was prompted by a similar ruling from the Muslim Council of Britain, following the July 7 terrorist attacks in London.
U.S. Muslim groups have frequently condemned terrorist acts, but the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, says issuing a fatwa is the strongest statement that can be made by the Islamic community.
"This is the heaviest weight any opinion can be given. The reason I am saying this is because those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam try to misinterpret and misuse certain issues in Islamic jurisprudence and they have no authority or qualification except their anger. These legal Muslim scholars come to say we are the authority on this subject and we are the ones who determine how to interpret Islam. Therefore, I don't think any person in the globe can quote the Koran or the traditions of the Prophet [Muhammad] to justify the harming and the killing of innocent people," he said.
The Muslim scholars have called for the fatwa to be read during Friday prayers at mosques across the United States.
Salam al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, says he hopes the message will resonate globally, but also close to home.
"We hope that this would influence other parts of the world, but more importantly I think we are doing this for our children and for our future," he said. "Our children need to be very clear on these matters. There should be no confusion and no ambiguities. As we stand together, tall, as leaders of established Muslim-American organizations, this is a message to our future generation and to our children that this notion that suicide bombing or terrorism has any room in Islam is rejected outright."
The Council on American-Islamic relations has launched public service announcements on radio and television saying that Islam forbids terrorism.
The announcements are in English, Arabic and Urdu, and say those who use violence in the name of Islam are betraying their faith.