Some 160 Somali religious scholars have issued a fatwa denouncing al-Shabab, saying the group had no place in Islam.
It is the first time Somali religious leaders have come up with a fatwa against the group, which controls many rural areas.
At a conference on the phenomenon of extremism in Mogadishu, the scholars said it condemned al-Shabab’s use of violence.
in the Islamic faith is the technical term for the legal judgment or learned interpretation that a qualified jurist or mufti can give on issues pertaining to the Islamic law.
Al-Shabab, or “The Youth”, is fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia.
Despite being pushed out of key cities in the past two years, it still remains in control of smaller towns and large swathes of the countryside.
Meanwhile, residents of central Somalia say al-Shabab has executed a young man in the town of Bula Burte and performed a double amputation on another in front of a crowd of several hundred people.
One of the aims of the conference was to issue Islamic opinion on whether the group had legitimacy or not, with the final fatwa concluding that it is not an Islamic movement, Sheikh Hassan Jaamai told the BBC.
“It’s like a gang that comes together to kill Somalis… without any legitimate reason or justification,” added the Islamic scholar, who flew over from the US to take part in the conference.
“The only thing they want is to create chaos in the country so that they can survive, ” said another participant from the Gulf, Sheikh Abdikani, referring to bomb attacks on a restaurant in central Mogadishu that killed 15 people on the opening day of the conference.
Al-Shabab said it carried out the attacks.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud opened the government-organised conference that drew Somali scholars, elders and imams from both within the country and abroad.
He took office a year ago in a UN-backed bid to end two decades of violence, with clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all battling for control of the country.
Last week, al-Shabab used Twitter to claim it had ambushed the president’s convoy.
But President Mohamud’s office played down the incident, saying he was unharmed, as the device exploded some distance away from the convoy.
The al-Qaeda-linked group has now had its Twitter account suspended.