More than 50 clerics associated with the Sunni Ittehad Council and a former Pakistani minister have joined hands against the Taliban and issued a fatwa that declared the attempted assassination of teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai as "un-Islamic".
In the religious decree issued in Lahore, the clerics appealed to the country to observe Friday as "Condemnation Day" to express solidarity with the 14-year-old girl, who is currently in a critical care unit of a military hospital in Rawalpindi after being shot in the head.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attempt on Malala's life in the former militant stronghold of Swat Valley on Tuesday, saying she was targeted for backing "pro-West" views and a secular government. The Taliban has warned it will attack her again if she survives.
The clerics said in their fatwa: "Islam doesn't prohibit women from getting education. The attackers transgressed the Islamic Hudood (principles)."
The clerics, who belong to the moderate Barelvi school of thought, described the interpretation of Islam by Taliban as "repugnant to the teachings of Islam" since the religion not only makes it obligatory on its followers to seek education.
Islam also strictly forbids taking the life of any innocent person, they pointed out. Former federal Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi said the decree had come at the right time.
"Islam holds the killing of even one innocent person equal to the killing of the whole of humanity. It also forbids executing a woman who has even reneged on her religion. Men
are punished with death for the same offence," Kazmi said.