By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
25 April, 2015
The ISIS And Its Likes– The Muslim Violent Extremists Of This Era Must Be Outlawed On Historical Precedent To Save The Middle East From A Tsunami Of Bloodshed And The World From A Clash Of Civilizations
At first it needs to be clarified that the generic title ‘violent extremist ‘is not taken from President Obama’s redefinition of Islamic terrorist that happened only February last. A joint publication by this author dated June 2009  ends with the following remark:
“Finally, as a word of reassurance, the violent extremists – the modern Kharijites and Qaramites, of Islam are no more than poisonous sediments of history, and like their counterparts of almost a millennium ago, they are bound to be increasingly marginalized, and eventually jettisoned from the world of Islam.”
In the spirit of the foregoing declaration, the author has been taking a hard look at the key Fatwas that al-Qaida and Taliban ideologues issued in recent years. Under strong, persistent, and passionate persuasion of Sultan Shahin, Editor, NAI, the author also combed many of their Fatwas and issued exhaustive technical Refutations.
The object of this article is to warn the Muslim Ulema and intellectuals not to stop short at lip service by writing long discourses listing the brutalities of these terror outfits and stretching their vocabulary to its penultimate limit to condemn ISIS and its likes. None of their condemnations reach these terror outfits as much as the cries and agonies of common civilians under aerial bombardment and in crumbling buildings in war zones never reach the pilots who fly the bombers or push the ‘fire’ buttons of their cruise missiles. But bombardment, however destructive, terrifying and blood-chilling it indeed is, has a life cycle. A time comes when it comes to a halt and those who survive it, can over time, pull themselves together, and get a fresh lease of life. But what the terror outfits are doing is far more sinister and enduring.
They make pre-emptive attacks into sovereign territories like marauding bands of outlaws ravaging what falls on their way, mercilessly killing civilians and scaring them to flee their homes without any resistance. Having occupied a territory, they look for the Christians, and minorities, somewhat like Hitler’s SS brigades looking for the Jews; brutalize them, and force them at gun point to convert to Islam, failing which they mercilessly shoot them. And they do all this carnage not as an attacking army or a lawful military duty, but in the cause of Allah – the Benevolent and the Merciful, waving the flag with the inscription of ‘Shahadah’ – ‘there is no god but Allah over the heads of their victims’
They grow in strength by forcing the local Muslims to join their ranks. To populate the land they capture, they forcibly convert captive non-Muslim women to Islam and marry them off to their soldiers– a sexual coercion that is amount to rape, committed institutionally in the name of Allah. All the while, they claim to be following the example of the Prophet, thus appropriating in Islam naked terrorism, rape (marriage without consent) and all kinds of crimes against humanity, turning Islam into a crude barbaric cult devoted to Allah. As they put the video of their barbaric crimes – beheading of journalists, massacring of captives, burning alive of an encaged captive pilot, among others with the banner of Shahadah (there is no god but Allah) prominently showing in the background, those unaware that Allah is no different from God conceive most evil notion of Allah that any Islamophobic site can testify. At the same time, by selectively targeting the Christians, they provoke hatred against the Muslims across the Western world and the continent. Thus they are attacking at the very foundation of Islamic civilization – virtually reducing it from a religion of peace, progress harmony, tolerance and other universal virtues to a diabolic cult, with an Evil Deity, getting the powerful West to hate and destroy the mainstream Muslim communities.
Apart from carving out a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and outposts in Somalia (Al-Shibab), Nigeria (Boko Haram) and Afghanistan (Taliban), the terror masterminds are stealthily campaigning or using the social media to radicalize Muslim youths, particularly in the West to get them to join their ranks or carry out terror attack at home. While their activists may be an insignificant fraction of the Muslim population, each single one or a band of barely a few of them can terrorize a whole nation.
One lone terrorist killing a Police Constable on a London square using kitchen knives and getting himself videoed that captured the name of Allah pouring from his mouth terrorized the whole nation. Two brothers launching the deadly Boston attacks using an explosive packed pressure cooker, shocked the whole of America, one man taking hostages at a coffee bar in Sydney, puts the entire country on edge, one man firing shots inside the premise of Canadian Parliament sends ripples of fear across this vast nation and two men carrying out the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris scared the authorities into the deploying soldiers across the city – just to cite some recent examples of high profile terror attacks by one or two terrorists. It is immaterial whether they belonged to ISIS, any other terror outfit or operated independently – the fact remains the violent terrorist operating under the banner of militant jihad or ISIS banner have colossal killing and terrorizing potential. Even the horrendous 9/11 attacks were carried out by 19 men led by their leader. Therefore, if one out of a hundred thousand Muslim youth from the entire world were lured into mounting deadly suicide attacks in the next say five years, the world will see 1000 terrifying terror attacks every year (over a base of half a billion adult global Muslim population).
The question is: Are the Muslim Ulema going to allow a faction of Muslims (ISIS and its ideological affiliates) to demonize Allah, their Prophet and faith without voicing any loud protest at the community and grass root level as they do when a book or cartoon is published by some individuals who do not claim to represent Islam and do not commit any crime against humanity under the banner of Shahadah.
In a far more ominous though arbitrary scenario, any coordinated deadly terror attack in packed Churches, synagogues, public places in a predominantly Christian country can have dreadful consequences for its minority Muslim population and its bloody backlash on the Christians in the Christian minority Muslim countries triggering a cycle of bloodshed that the world may not have seen before. And this is what precisely the ISIS and the militant jihadists aim at. In one word, their strategy is to get Muslim masses – whom they regard as infidels in any case, bombed, killed, brutalized, marginalized, spiritually shattered and cognitively dead and ripe to join ranks with their enemy’s enemy – the ISIS and militant jihadists.
Hence, there can be no doubt whatsoever that ISIS and its ideological affiliates pose a grave threat to the global Muslim community that is potentially far more dangerous than all the death and destruction in the Muslim lands in the post 9/11 era. Hence, it is a question of life and death for the soul of Islam to refute the evil ideologies of ISIS and its likes, such as by taking on board the following propositions that are based on historical precedent set by Caliph Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) who had faced violent extremism by a breakaway faction of his supporters who betrayed obsessive religiosity by dint of their attire, austerity and devotion to prayers like the present genre of terrorists.
But one fundamental question needs to be answered
Are the outlined measures enough to diffuse or marginalize the violent extremists of Islam of this era?
This needs a clear understanding of civilisational fault-lines that do not normally feature in any detail in the Western narratives on terrorism.
While this is too vast a theme to be covered in this focused essay, there is a need to mention the most pressing issues of the era that, in an uncanny way, are reciprocal between Islam and the West and directly or indirectly feed Violent Extremism. They include, among other things, a patently anti-Islamic (biased) reporting by the popular Western media, reciprocated by strong anti-American sentiments in the Muslim world. Unchecked growth of Islamophobia, reciprocated by exclusivist, spiritually supremacist and politically triumphalist narratives in Islam, Western world’s celebration of Muslim scholars like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji for feeding them with a distorted notion of the faith of Islam (which they often conflate with its secondary sources), reciprocated by virtual veneration of Muslim scholars like Dr. Zakir Naik and Yusuf al Qaradawi, who are bent on creating an Islamic order as an alternative civilisational model that only corroborates suspicions against Islam. The West’s underplaying of the colossal sufferings of the Palestinian people projecting the oppressor as the victim ostensibly to justify indefinite occupation and illegal expansion of settlement, and reciprocally, the Muslim terror ideologues ‘doctrine of killing innocent people and committing heinous crimes against humanity in the name of God is blatant demonization of their faith and only reinforces the negative perceptions against Islam. The list can of course be extended.
There is also a tendency is to blame the Prophet of Islam, the religion of Islam and the Muslims for the explosive rise in terrorism, and there is no dearth of Muslim journalists and intellectuals to readily blame the orthodox Islam for this. But the truth is the scripture, theological discourses and history of all major religions can be quoted selectively and without historical relativism to project each of them in equally lurid light as Islam. In fact, in historical relativism, Islam will stand out as by far the most tolerant civilization that enabled the diverse faith communities, and notably the Jews, who came under its fold to survive and flourish and gave rights to common people, slaves and womenfolk that were immeasurably benevolent in historical relativism So blaming Islam, its Prophet and people is merely a ploy to demonize the Muslims as civilisationally ‘different’ for obvious political reasons.
The world cannot solve all its problems over night. Some issues are deeply entrenched and have almost become normative, while some have emerged of late in response to the political realities of the era. But of all the issues one can think of, the most alarming, threatening and of potentially gravest consequence to the Muslims and Christians of a large part of the world is the rise of ISIS and its ideological affiliates as expounded above. It is, this day, the mother of all issues. The gravity of this issue can best be appreciated by the fact that with Islam literally fallen into the lowest pit of civilization in its fourteen centuries long history, and the American’s hatred and contempt of Islam at its peak, its President had to court the Muslims by redefining Islamic terror to Violent extremism. Every single Muslim who has the slightest notion of Islamic values knows it well that what the terror groups are doing has nothing to do with their faith. Their deep seated frustration and agony at the sufferings of Muslim civilians for the crimes of a handful of terrorist and at the increasingly brutal occupation of Palestine as testified by first hand international witnesses like Gideon Levy and Mads Gilbert has probably made them psychologically impervious to the sufferings and destruction that the terror groups are causing to fellow Muslims and Christians, but let them have no illusion - the terror groups regard all of them except their own creed as infidels and there singular aim is to trigger a religious war that would only consolidate their position as expounded in the article. Hence, there is an urgent need to outlaw and marginalize them as the Kharijites (terrorist-apostates of Islam) – as advocated in the articles referenced above.
The author is inspired to do this article at the interest shown by Satbir Singh Bedi, the only commentator at NAI to have reportedly circulated the referenced articles across his contacts. He also remains deeply indebted to Sultan Shahin for constantly pushing him to write for NAI on Islam that has enabled him to broaden his religious outlook, and participate in Islamic narratives in a critical and creative way. He is also thankful to Mohammed Rafique Lodhia for convincing him of the need to include the civilisational fault-lines, and especially the issue of Palestine for no matter what anyone writes, this is one issue that is causing enduring grief and frustration to all the Muslims and of course many other people of the world and feeds radicalization like no other issue of this era.
1. MuhammadYunus and Ashfaque Ullah Syed, Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, Maryland, USA 2009.
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.