Kabul, Afghanistan — Approximately 2,000 people had gathered as some of Afghanistan’s most prominent clerics and mullahs met on Monday. There was a large tent that had been erected for the council meeting; at the meeting’s close, people began to exit. A suicide bomber positioned himself near the entrance and detonated himself — at least eight people were killed and 14 wounded, according to Afghan police — among the dead was one of their own. Police said that if the bomber had gone deeper into the tent, the casualties would have been significantly higher.

Just prior to the attack, the clerics had issued a fatwa, condemning suicide attacks just like this one. A ‘fatwa’ is a declaration or ruling regarding Islamic Law. They are typically given by councils such as the one that met on Monday, filled with Islamic scholars and clerics who determine a new, blanket proclamation in regards to some issue or another. It is akin to a legal opinion given by a judge in the United States, though it is a religious declaration as opposed to a legal one (though, depending on the country, those might coincide with one another).

Prior to the explosion, one cleric said that, “The war in Afghanistan is illegal and has no root in Sharia … We the religious Ulema call on the Taliban to respond positively to the peace offer of the Afghan government in order to prevent further bloodshed in the country.”

The peace-offering referred to here is the one made by the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who seeks to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party in exchange for peace and the recognition of the current government as the ultimate rule of law in Afghanistan. Ghani’s offer was not unconditional, and he allowed room for negotiation. This falls in line with the process toward a tangible goal outlined by U.S. Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis. While the U.S. will not likely find peace with the Taliban (nor would they need to), Mattis seeks a “political reconciliation” between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The Taliban have denied responsibility for the attack. Their official spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that, “Today’s blast in Kabul has nothing to do with the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirates (the Taliban).” They have typically claimed responsibility for attacks in the past.

In early May, many Islamic scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia met in Bogor, Indonesia, to come to the same conclusion. Their declaration said that,

We reaffirm that violence and terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group, as violent extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestation including violence against civilians and suicide attacks are against the holy principles of Islam.”

Featured image: Security personnel attend the site of a deadly suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, June 4, 2018. A suicide bombing targeted a gathering of Afghanistan’s top clerics on Monday in Kabul, killing at least seven people and wounding nine. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)