By Farzana Hassan
September 10, 2014
The U.S.A. created ISIS to destabilize the Middle East.
This conspiracy theory is gaining traction not only among some Muslims, but also among their liberal, white supporters.
ISIS militants are not Muslims, they say, just mercenaries carrying out the agenda of their paymasters.
No doubt a bumbling U.S. foreign policy has sent armchair experts scrambling for rationalizations: ISIS is a deliberate attempt to create an Islamic monster, only to crush it later; atrocities by ISIS in Iraq and Syria are focused on to create an imaginary bogeyman.
Although he doesn’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf writes in the Huffington Post that, “While these terrorists insist they are governing under Islamic law and are carrying out their atrocities in the name of Allah, they are nothing but thugs and assassins ... desecrating a religion and blaspheming ... Allah.”
Rauf is committing what is colloquially known as the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.
He is arguing “no true Muslim” would ever conceive of, let alone perpetrate, such heinous acts of inhumanity.
Thus, by definition, ISIS must be out to slur the immaculate essence of Islam and to discredit its true adherents.
But whether we consider ISIS irreligious mercenaries or devout Muslims out to establish a global caliphate, the fact is they are using the framework of ancient Islamic beliefs. And ISIS is advancing an Islamic agenda and living an Islamic dream held by many Muslims.
It draws on orthodox Sunni precepts about jihad, the status of women, and Islam’s apocalyptic, imperialist designs.
I know for a fact the dream of a global caliphate is a palpable goal among many Muslims who are devoutly religious and ostensibly moderate.
Many also believe in a jihad, at times benign and at times militant, to achieve that goal.
This, coupled with disenchantment with Western values and political resentment towards all things “un-Islamic”, can make some Muslims impressionable and volatile.
Such a mindset can blur the distinction between moderate and extreme Islamic brief.
When Muslims embrace conspiracy theories, they appear to deny well-established jihadi ideology aspiring to world domination, the subjugation of women, and the marginalization and even murder of non-Muslim minorities.
These outrages have featured in Islamic history. Why are they not Islamic now?
Islamic apologists cannot claim that only the impure and mercenaries among Muslims hold such an insular world view. Why, for example, is it so hard to believe some Muslims truly believe in a global jihad, when the concept is central to Islam?
Many in the mainstream Muslim community seem to have lost track of what their own beliefs entail.
Sura 5:33 of the Qur’an offers the following guidance:
“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.”
In reality, conspiracy theories about modern paymasters deny Islam’s ideological essence.
This ideology exists and endures. It was formulated and honed by Muslims.
Latter-day believers who wish to revive and realize it are in fact, true Muslims.
That’s all there is to it, and the sooner Muslims realize the origin of the ideology, its moral bankruptcy and its potential for devastation, the better it will be for them and the rest of the world.