By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
30 June 2016
Humane souls across the world continue to mourn the victims of mass killing in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, which left at least 50 innocent men and women dead and 53 wounded. This was the worst mass shooting in American history. As the brainless abuser and wife-beater, butcher of this incident, Omar Mateen reportedly pledged his allegiance to the ISIS in his final moments, let us take the issue in a broader theological perspective that ISIS represents.
In a recent issue of the online English mouthpiece of the ISIL “Dabiq”, the extremist jihadist writers demonized the Western world as ‘a function of liberalism and democracy polluting the hearts and minds of Muslims’. In the view of radical jihadist ideologues democracy and liberalism are the worst forms of ‘un-Islamic governance’. This is why the Islamist clergy of the extremist outfits, Boko Haram, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), al-Qaeda and ISIS, declared the Muslims serving the “Mushrik (polytheist)-majority” countries as apostates whose blood can be shed.
No wonder then, the top American Muslim moderates engaged in spiritual guidance, politics, media, academia, business, entrepreneurship and other lawful pursuits are in the hit list of the ISIS’s target killing. To name a few, the American Sufi scholar Hamza Yusuf, the Indian-origin EU Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue Waqar Azmi, Conservative Party ministers Sajid Javid and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Hilary Clinton's advisor Huma Abedin are on top of the list released by the ISIS in an article titled "Kill the Imams of the West" in Dabiq (April - May 2016). The article states the reason why these moderate Muslims along with 20 other top Western Muslim leaders should be killed:
“One must not overlook the overt crusaders, those who don’t even wear the cloak of Da’wah (Islamic preaching), but instead directly involve themselves in politics and enforcing the laws of Kufr (disbelief)”.
Declaring all those on its hit list as “Murtad” (apostate or ex-Muslim), the ISIS ideologues glorify the potential murderers of these Muslims exhorting their blind Islamist adherents in the western world to "wage jihad with the resources available to them”.
More deplorable and unsettling situation is that there is no evolution of any successful strategy to control the ongoing online radicalization even in the US, a country of the best techno-savvy people. Why the online de-radicalisation is too gigantic a task for the American anti-terrorist agencies to accomplish? We still fail to understand it. When the government-led high-tech teamwork is not able to battle the jihadist radicalisation, why should one wonder then, if the executives from Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, MTV to Buzz feed have failed to tackle the online onslaught of the so-called Islamic State.
Equally surprising is that hardly any impact is made by rebuttals of the ISIS’ jihadist theology by the world’s anti-extremist Islamic thinkers. The voluminous global anti-terror Fatwas which were respectively launched in UK, India and USA have left no practical impression, though they were in-depth and very critical. The anti-extremist Western Islamic scholars like Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri argued that blaming the ISIS’ radicalization entirely on American foreign policy and military ventures in the Middle East or elsewhere is not viable. “While the political factors do play out in the process of radicalisation, too often the theologically-based narratives which underpin the ideology of the extremists are downplayed or underestimated”, he wrote.
Islamic scholars should, however, think seriously why they are being so ineffective. Ulema must introspect if they are themselves downplaying or underestimating the theologically-based narratives which underpin the ideology of the extremists.
Nevertheless, these moderate Islamic thoughts do inspire the mainstream American Muslims in their attempt to counter extremist messaging on social media. Their constant efforts and concrete inputs to counter online ISIS radicalisation are well-considered. Todd C. Helmus, Erin York and Peter Chalk jointly conducted a research within the RAND Homeland Security and Defense Centre and explored how the moderate American Muslims are seeking to counter the extremist online messaging, which is growing in the cloak of Islamism in the US.
Today, the moderate American Muslims are working for peace, dialogue and harmony among Muslims and people of other faith traditions. It has become an absolute must. But along with this, they must work hard to critique and expose as false the arguments of radical Islamist terrorists, who seek to disguise their violence in a pseudo-religious garb. I would conclude with an emerging voice of the progressive western Muslims. Ro Waseem, for instance, writes in his article entitled “Muslims have a moral responsibility to address ISIS's bastardisation of Islam” published in International Business Times (dated March 23, 2016):
“ISIS has nothing to do with Islam! has become the standard response by well-meaning Muslims to jihadist attacks. As a Muslim myself, I find it grotesque to observe the impunity with which jihadists murder innocent civilians, chanting the name of God who, in the Quran, likens Himself to a womb: “The Most Merciful and Compassionate”……Clearly, as things stand, ISIS has something to do with Islam. Not everything, not nothing – but something…..This might seem like a semantic point, but it is nonetheless a necessary one.
“For as long as we don’t acknowledge that there is a serious problem within some aspects of mainstream Islamic discourse, we cannot possibly expect Islamo-fascism to fade into oblivion. Indeed, if it is religious legitimacy we want to deny to ISIS, we simply cannot afford to beat around the bush any more while the monster runs loose….As long as religious dogma trumps fundamental human rights, our condemnations will remain devoid of moral courage – the courage to confront life-long dogmas that one may have been brought up with”.
A similar sane voice came from Ghanem Nuseibeh, the founder of Cornerstone Global Associates and a senior visiting fellow at Kings College, London, writes in an article dated March 22, 2016:
“I find it extremely distressing that, as a Muslim, the teachings of the extremist Islamists, both Sunni and Shia, are louder than any other. Islam is now defined by extremist teaching. Irreparable damage is being inflicted on Islam on a daily basis. The voice of Muslim moderation is faint, and in many cases non-existent……The fight for the heart and soul of Islam will be a long one. The world will defeat terrorism only when the moderates of the Muslim world win that battle……Only when the world unites in tackling the intellectual roots of extremist Islamism will we be able to defeat groups like Daesh, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. And only when those groups are defeated and their ideologies eradicated will the Muslim world be saved from rampant human right abuses”.
Like Ghanem and Waseem, there is a growing number of progressive Muslims particularly in the US and in the west in general who maintain that Islam as enshrined in the Quran is diametrically different from the Islam that is advocated by the Muslim clergy and self-serving Mullahs. Hence, they actively challenge the passive mentality that condones irrationality and a breach of fundamental human rights in the disguise of Islam.
A New Age Islam columnist, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is Delhi-based classical Islamic scholar. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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