The armed takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979 was a pivotal point in modern extremism. Led by the former Saudi national guardsman Juhayman al Utaibi and the false Mahdi Mohammed al Qahtani, the two-week occupation violated the most basic principles of Islam. While spilling the blood of fellow Muslims in Islam's holiest site, the rebels continued to claim divine justification for their acts. It was only after he was caught that al Utaibi admitted he had been wrong.
Terrorists far too often cloak their deeds in a supposed religious justification, even as those deeds abandon Islam. In the past 15 years, the al Qa'eda franchise's trail of carnage, from suicide bombings to the murder of innocents, has time and again violated the explicit teachings of the Quran and the Hadiths. Al Qa'eda has always been a theologically bankrupt organisation, owing more to the megalomania of Osama bin Laden than even the writings of the discredited Egyptian scholar Sayyid Qutb.
But the falsity of their claims must be exposed. Yesterday in the pages of The National, the esteemed Muslim scholar Dr Tahir ul Qadir, the founder of Minhaj ul Quran, explained the basis of his recent fatwa against the terrorists. Coming from a scholar of his standing and drawing deeply upon the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, Dr ul Qadir's fatwa is a strong blow to the false doctrines of the terrorists. He joins a growing number of religious leaders denouncing al Qa'eda and its affiliates in recent years, but the battle is not yet won.
In Muslim communities across the world, from Riyadh to Jakarta, Washington DC to Baghdad, there are legitimate grievances that fuel the terrorists' misguided cause. Economic disparities, racism and prejudice, geopolitics: many factors serve to alienate Muslim youth from the mainstream. These young people - intelligent, committed and eager to improve the world - are the targets of terrorist recruitment, but also the greatest potential resource for their communities.
Al Qa'eda will fail, not because of defeats on the battlefield, but because of its bereft ideology. The deceit that terrorists act in the name of Islam will be exposed. Bin Laden and his cronies cannot stand up against scholars such as Dr ul Qadir. Young people are simply too intelligent to believe their lies once they are exposed to light.