By Kashif Chaudhry
July 3, 2015
In separate attacks last week, ISIS
terrorists killed 39 tourists at a beach resort in Tunisia, and close to 30
worshipers at a Shia Mosque in Kuwait. The onslaught came shortly after the
group called on its militant Jihadi sympathisers to expand operations in the
month of Ramazan.
ISIS has demonstrated an unflinching
determination to take out anyone who dares to disagree with it. Its members
have slaughtered Yazidis and Christians, but the vast majority of its victims
have been Muslims who resist it and refuse to acknowledge its authority. ISIS
has even executed Sunni clerics who refused to swear allegiance to it, and
Muslim women who did not submit to its worldview.
This feature is shared across all terrorist
groups operating in the name of Islam. The vast majority of the victims of the
Taliban, for instance, are also Muslims. Hundreds of Shia Muslims have been
killed just in the last few years. And I have lost many close friends in
similar attacks on the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh,
Afghanistan and even in America.
So when some anti-Islam critics keep
doggedly associating the faith of us Muslims with the acts of our tormentors,
we call them out for their insensitivity.
I do not disagree that part of the
motivation for religious extremism is rooted in perverted interpretation of
scripture by radical extremists. However, it is dishonest to label the vast
majority of Muslims who reject such interpretations as non-devout or “nominal”.
An honest study of the Holy Quran shows
that groups like ISIS act in complete defiance of the injunctions of Islam. The
Holy Quran, for instance, equates one murder to the elimination of the whole
human race (5:32), and considers persecution and disorder on earth as an even
worse offence (2:217). It lays emphasis on peace, justice and human rights. It
champions freedom of conscience and forbids worldly punishment for apostasy and
A study of the traditions of the Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH) also demonstrates that he warned us of the rise of religious
extremism in this age in astonishing detail.
Fourteen hundred years ago, he prophesised
that a time would come when nothing would remain of Islam but its name, nothing
of the Holy Quran but its word, and that many “mosques would be splendidly
furnished but destitute of guidance” (Mishkatul Masabih). In these latter days,
the true spiritual essence of Islam would be lost, and religion, for the most
part, would be reduced to a ritualistic compulsion. He foretold that the clergy
would be corrupt and be a source of strife during these times.
How true this is of the extremist clerics
in parts of the Muslim world that abuse the pulpit to preach division and hate.
He also went on to describe terrorist
groups such as ISIS that would try to hijack the Islamic faith. At this time of
dissension, he said there would appear “a group of young people who would be
immature in thought and foolish”. They would speak beautiful words but commit
the most heinous of deeds. They would engage in so much prayer and fasting that
the worship of the Muslims would appear insignificant in comparison. They would
call people to the Holy Quran but would have nothing to do with it in reality.
The Holy Quran would not go beyond their throats, meaning they wouldn’t
understand its essence at all, merely regurgitating it selectively. The Prophet
(PBUH) then went on to describe these people as “the worst of the creation”.
As if this outline wasn’t clear enough,
another tradition in the book Kitaab Al Fitan reported by Caliph Ali, the
fourth successor to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), describes these people as having
long hair and bearing black flags. Their “hearts will be hard as iron”, and
they would be the companions of a State (Ashab ul Dawla). Interestingly, ISIS
refers to itself as the Islamic State or Dawla. The tradition further mentions
that they will break their covenants not speak the truth and have names that
mention their cities. The ISIS caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, comes to mind.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) furiously and
painfully described these evildoers, and admonished Muslims to beware of their
evil and fight it. He proclaimed that “whoever fights them is better to Allah
Reflect on this critical point. Whenever
ISIS kills in the name of Islam, claims to follow the Holy Quran, or uses the
Holy month of Ramazan to spread anarchy across the globe, know that Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH) explicitly warned us of these imposters, and entrusted us to
root them out.
The only people who refuse to reflect on
this point are ISIS, ISIS sympathisers and anti-Islam extremists who want the
world to believe that ISIS is legitimate. Intelligent people, meanwhile, see
Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) prophetic wisdom and thus remain united against both
ignorance and extremism.
Kashif Chaudhry is a graduate of King Edward Medical University, Lahore
and Mt Sinai University Hospital in New York; Kashif is currently completing
his Cardiology fellowship in Boston, USA. He writes for various American
newspapers and Pakistani publications and blogs at the Huffington Post. His
interests include medicine, human rights and interfaith dialogue.