By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
23 November 2015
We cannot accept any religious justification for the killing of innocent and non-combatant civilians whatever the motive, whatever the method or wherever the reason. However, if we Muslims are really concerned about war on terror, every narrative of victimhood, denial and conspiracy theories should be deconstructed and dismantled. Action-reaction theory is also run of the mill. The recent Paris attack showed an obnoxious picture of the violent extremists wantonly killing and terrorizing innocent civilians. It was not only an attack on peace and harmony prevailing in France but a clear indication of rapid rise in the global extremist ideology. It was a direct result of ISIS jihadists returning from Syria with mindless violence motivated by a dangerous ideology of intolerance and wanton killing.
Against the backdrop of the ISIS-led Paris massacre, it is high time we take cognizance of the extremist ideology that Daesh and its entire jihadist ilk adhere to. Throughout the Islamic history, the Kharjism-inspired doctrines provided the religious and ideological underpinnings to enable radical Islamist movements to take up arms against existing governments. While most governments are able to reconcile with the mainstream moderate Muslims, neo-Kharijite extremists reject any kind of compromise, insisting on their way to the exclusion of all others. In their crazy bid to fulfill their self-imposed duties of ‘Dawah and Irshad’ (preaching and proselytizing), Amr Bil Maruf Wa Nahy Anil Munkar (enjoining good and forbidding evil) and al-Wala wal-Bara (loyalty and enmity), they easily resort to armed struggle and wanton killing. Thank God, the global progressive Islamic media, particularly New Age Islam, has been carrying news and analysis on the global Jihadists inspired by a complete theology of intolerance rooted in the Islamic history. Of course, there is no way out without combating the hate-driven understanding of Islam which continues to attract recruits for the ISIS other Islamist terrorist organisations. Before more and more innocent lives are lost, it would be timely and expedient to identify the ideological roots of IS which lie in the extremist theology.
While the world leaders have openly called for war on ISIS, one should pay heed to what a Saudi scholar Fu’ad Ibrahim has brought out in his research findings. His findings need to be seriously studied. He says that the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s expressions replicate exactly the language of Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the founder ideologue of Wahhabism. Most particularly, the constant use of the dangerous radical doctrine “al-Wala wal Bara” (friendship with Salafi-Wahhabi Muslims and enmity against other Muslims and non-Muslims) is cherished by the ISIS jihadists. The ferocious understanding of this doctrine is the core essence of the hardcore belief that Ibn Abdul Wahhab and his followers consider “an integral part to Iman-e-Kamil” (perfect faith in Islam).
In his famous book, Majmu’ah at-Tawhid, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab writes:
“Islam of a man can never be accepted, even if he abandons polytheism, unless he shows enmity in his words and actions towards the disbelievers and infidels”……. “Kufr and Islam are opposed to each other. The progress of one is possible only at the expense of the other and co-existences between these two contradictory faiths is unthinkable”……“The honour of Islam lies in insulting Kufr and Kafirs, One who respects Kafirs, dishonours the Muslims. To respect them does not merely mean honouring them and assigning them a seat of honour in any assembly, but it also implies keeping company with them or showing considerations to them. They should be kept at an arm's length like dogs”…..... “If some worldly business cannot be performed without them, in that case only a minimum of contact should be established with them but without taking them into confidence. The highest Islamic sentiment asserts that it is better to forego that worldly business and that no relationship should be established with the Kafirs”.
Following in his footsteps, another later Salafist ideologue Shaikh Hamad bin Ateeq, who studied Islam at Imam Muhammad bin Sa‘ud Islamic University in Riyadh and learned from leading Salafi clergy like Shaikh bin Baaz, Shaikh al-‘Uthaymeen and Shaikh al-Fawzaan, writes:
“In the book of Allah (Qur'an) there is no ruling more apparent and significant than the ruling of al-Wala' Wal Bara', after the requirement of Tawhid and the prohibition of its opposite” (An-Najaat wal-Fakak, p.14).
In fact, all the above extremist renditions are misleading interpretations of a Qur’anic verse mentioned in Surat al-Muja'dilah (verse: 22).They are entirely relied on an earlier interpretation rendered by the founder-ideologue of Salafism, Shaikh Ibn Taymiyya. He writes:
"The declaration of faith that there is no god but Allah, requires you to love only for the sake of Allah, to hate only for the sake of Allah, to ally yourself only for the sake of Allah, to declare enmity only for the sake of Allah; it requires you to love what Allah loves and to hate what Allah hates (al-Ihtijaj bil-Qadar, p.62).
It should be made clear that the hardcore Wahhabi belief of al-Wala wal-Bara (that a Muslim cannot be a perfect Muslim until he/she shows hatred in words and actions against the non-Muslims) also includes non-Salafi/Wahhabi Muslims such as the Sufis and Shias etc. Therefore, merely having faith in one Creator is not sufficient for them to be called Muslim. They have to harbour and foment hatred and enmity against the infidels, even if they happen to be their friends, classmates, neighbours, countrymen or even relatives. And yes, harbouring this evil emotion only in heart will not suffice. They need to convert them all to Islam or else slit their throats, chop off their heads, kill their wives, their children and destroy their properties and take them as the spoils of war. Those denying this ‘principle of faith’ or even entertaining doubts about it were declared by Ibn Abdul Wahhab as ‘Murtad’ (apostates) and hence were slaughtered.
So the ISIS jihadists, by trying to terrorise the non-Muslim or non-Wahhabi world today, are actually implementing one of the basic postulates of the Wahhabi version of Islam. No wonder then, Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s writings and other Wahhabi Ulema’s books and commentaries of Qur’an are widely distributed in the areas sized by the Daesh.
Regrettably, this radicalized understanding of Islam continues to spread unchecked and unchallenged, threatening social stability at the local, national, and regional levels and creating geopolitical dangers, especially to the common masses of the Middle East, USA and Europe. Stemming from the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, the violent tide of faith-inspired fanaticism came all out to play havoc across the globe. It is directly linked with the Khariji-Wahhabi ideology which is completely antithetical to the mainstream spiritual narrative of Islam. This ideology is built on the concept of political enforcement of religious beliefs and thus allows aggression and violence in matters of faith. Much against this idea, the traditional Islam considers faith as a personal relationship between man and God. Therefore, in this spiritual belief, there can be no compulsion or force used in religion. From the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), peace and tolerance were practiced between different religious groups, with respect to distinctions in belief. However, many of us are turning a blind eye to a vicious xenophobia and intolerance. This is the major cause of the atrocities of ISIS or other extremist followers of Islam today which rely on brazenly un-Islamic doctrines.
A considerable number of Islamic clerics, Ulema and Imams, particularly those with Sufi orientation, have come out to denounce terrorism. The topmost Islamic university Al-Azhar’s chancellor Shaikh Ahmad Al-Tayyab’s categorical admission of link between violence and the extremist Islamic theology at a counter-terrorism summit in Mecca is a strong case in point. Even the current Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, has stated that the ISIS jihadists follow a twisted understanding of Islamic beliefs. "They tell their followers that they will end up in paradise, if they murder people. But this goes against the Prophet’s teachings, because, of course, nobody gets to paradise using these methods. We need to preach the idea that a person gets to paradise through cultural enlightening, education and solidarity", he said in a recent interview to Russia Today on 13th Nov, 2015. Yet, Ulema are not yet refuting the terrorist ideology regularly, systematically and point by point, as done on NewAgeIslam.com.
Nearly all world religious leaders and governments have shown vital support to France in this troubling time. But the same question remains to be answered: will they again restrict themselves to their verbal outrage against the ISIS as usual? Is merely condemning the culprits sufficient? Every condemnation, however vehement or spirited, will remain futile, unless they rebut the ideologies of terror. It is an opportune time for them to run down the extremist ideology that the ISIS and other jihadists adhere to. Surprisingly enough, a large part of the world are still purportedly oblivious to the ideological factor, while a considerable number of Islamic scholars, spiritual masters and heads of global Islamic seminaries have alluded to the nexus between extremism and the misreading of Qur’an and Hadith (the primary Islamic scriptures). What else will it take us to wake up to the harsh reality that the Daesh has an ideology which is at war with the entire humanity including Muslims, not just the non-Muslims? Unless the world leaders declare an unequivocal war against the core ideology of the ISIS, no war on terror will help.
However, Islamist ideology of terror is specific to a particular obnoxious stream of thought and not common to the entire religion of Islam. But unfortunately, after the Paris massacre, there is substantial evidence of increase in Islamophobic sentiments and anti-Muslim incidents such as ban on beard and Burqa, mosques, madrasas and other Islamic preaching centres. Obviously, it’s not a solution, rather a rash reaction to an action. It can’t just put an end to the constant tide of extremism until they curb the real culprits--the extremist ideologues and their blind followers. Instead of a rash generalisation based on oversimplification of radical Islamism, the governments should try to understand and combat it on a much deeper level. They need concrete action plans for rebutting and rooting out the terror ideologies in place of banning a complete faith tradition, its places of worship, or cultural dresses. However, Muslims should also learn one thing: as long as their co-religionists keep playing havoc across the world loudly claiming that their faith tells them to do so, they can’t just live in a world free from Islamophobia.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a classical Islamic scholar, English-Arabic-Urdu writer, and a Doctoral Research Scholar, Centre for Culture, Media & Governance (JMI Central University). After graduation in Arabic (Hons.), he has done his M. A. in Comparative Religions & Civilizations and a double M.A. in Islamic Studies from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org