By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
02 April, 2015
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
In a letter dated September last to the chief of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a group of more than 120 prominent Muslim scholars from around the world who investigated his activities, charged him with a plethora of heinous crimes. These included, massacre of civilians, killing hundreds of unarmed captives, destroying churches and looting the homes and properties of the Christian and Yazidi civilians, who were living in peace with the Muslims since the early years of Islam; forcing non-Muslims to convert to Islam or face death, engaging children in war and killing, torturing and terrorizing people through beatings, murder, burying alive, decapitation with knives; mutilating corpses, sticking the decapitated heads of their victims on spikes and rods and, getting their children to kick the severed heads of their victims around like balls and broadcasting it to the world during the World Cup. Not satisfied with mere killing, they mocked those they were going to kill by telling them that they will be killed like sheep, bleating and then indeed butchering them like sheep, and then jeering at corpses. On one instance, they tied Syrian soldiers to barbed wire, cut off the heads of some of them with knives and posted a video of this barbaric act on the internet. The detailed 18-page letter can be accessed on the following link.
The scholars issuing the letter unanimously agreed that each of the above listed crimes that ISIS committed in the name of Islam stands in stark contradiction to the Qur’anic message. It also goes without saying that no ‘Alim or ‘Imam in the whole world will agree with the claim of ISIS to following the dictates of the Qur’an or the example of the Prophet, whom the Qur’an describes to be a person endowed with sublime character (68:4) and unshakeable stability (17:74), faithful to his trust (al-amin, 81:21), and (a manifestation of God’s) mercy to the believers (9:61), and to all humanity (21:107). As for the first community of the Muslims that ISIS claims to follow, the Qur’an describes them as the best of community ever raised for mankind (3:110) and the ISIS represents probably the worst community, at least in the history of Islam.
While ISIS does not command any sympathy among the Ulama and Imams of the world – with the exception of its own ideologues, they all share the global disgrace ISIS evokes for its claim to representing true Islam. There is also a growing misconception among the non-Muslims of the world that the Muslims’ claim of Islam being a religion of peace is a mere propaganda and a bluff.
The sad reality is ISIS is continuing to attract recruits, especially from among the new converts or those having no knowledge of the message of Islam, and those opposed to Islam are producing pamphlets with false information and quotations to directly implicate the Qur’an as the ideological fount of ISIS. This renders each and every Muslim who reads the Qur’an an accomplice or ideological ally of the ISIS, which is a lie of colossal measure and overturns the notion of Islam from a religion of peace to a barbaric cult, not fit for today’s civilization. Hence the ISIS must be resisted at the grass-root level of Islamic society.
It is therefore time that the Imams in each mosque all over the world – especially the West mount a concerted campaign, such as by way of Friday sermons (khutba) and social and media preaching to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam, and warn the lay Muslims that those who die when committing such acts are not likely to go down as "martyrs" and more likely to incur divine wrath for causing ‘fasad’ and ‘baghya’ that the Qur’an condemns in no uncertain terms.
The truth is, in historical perspective ISIS has far exceeded the early Kharijites in its barbarism, bestiality and killing spree, in committing atrocities against innocent civilians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike and in destroying all kinds of civil amenities. It is also committing crimes that date back to the pre-Islamic jahilliyah – notably mutilation of corpses, and meting out punishment that God threatened humanity with - burning people alive. Since Caliph Umar had outlawed the Kharijites – regarded them as terrorist-apostates who had forfeited their claim to the faith of Islam, the ISIS can be paralleled with them and no Alim or Imam should have any fear in warning the community as proposed above: dying while fighting for ISIS may earn them hell, not heaven.
The author is only discharging his trust as a defender of Islam and it is up to the fraternity of Ulama and Imams to pay heed to his call or ignore it. This call follows an earlier call to declare ISIS as the Kharijites of this era:
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.