By Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
Radicals and fanatics don’t get radicalized by intelligence agency e.g. CIA, MOSSAD… etc. Rather they get recruited by those secret agencies because they are hilariously fanatics and stupidly radicalized (reverse logic; a stereotype of herd mentality)
I also expect some zealots of the so called moderate Muslims and many others of conspiracy theory addicts to get slightly offended/shocked by my post.
Fervently they will try and refute my thesis by cherry-picking some benign verses from the Quran that call for benevolence and peace. But if they get to cherry-pick, why deny the fundamentalists and fanatics the same right?
This is the core of the problem, a divine book like the Quran (and that also goes for the Old and New Testament) shouldn’t be like a magician’s pocket; one time a dove is pulled out of it, and oftentimes a dagger. Reforming the rationale of interpreting the holy book of the Quran and also reforming the mainstream narrative of Islam is the only way this magnificent religion is to survive the fundamentalist take over.
The world has not seen such brutality and savagery in modern times. Horrible Stories were told about the Celts, the Aztecs and the Mongols; nevertheless they always remained stories of the remote past. But what the militants of the so called “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – ISIS” are doing is something else, what they are perpetrating defy any literary power to try and put it into words.
Driven by what they see as divine command and wreaking havoc and devastation only thought possible in Hollywood productions the Islamic militant group ISIS has pushed the definition of terrorism to a new and scary limit.
Their ongoing banquet of carnage has to be seen, not only to be believed but to grasp how religion, that should have united humans in peace, could turn into a license to lawless slaughter. (Watch this extremely graphic video of ISIS brutal mass execution of Iraqi civilians and soldiers – watch at your discretion)
Contrary to what most commentators have said, it is not the graphic scenes of mass execution and beheading of hundreds of innocent civilians by ISIS that I find most repulsive, the American war on Iraq has left thousands killed in cold blood and countless numbers born with anomalies caused by US radioactive lethal weaponry (Hi-tech savagery that often go unreported by MSM)
What I personally find really scary in the ISIS militants is that they carry out their onslaught seemingly without any shred of guilt or shame. The militants/Mujahideen go about their business as usual; beheading their opponents’ minutes after they fall into their captivity. And minutes later they all go and join each other in a humble prayer to god.
Following the scripture literally
Now what’s interesting, or rather shocking, is the fact that those hideous acts of terrorism are executed by people who claim they are devout Muslims.
I know that the whole world, including the Islamic world, is viewing ISIS Mujahideen as the ultimate example of brutal terrorism and modern time’s savagery.
But this world view doesn’t concern me as much as how those Muslim terrorists really view themselves. Moreover, why a supposedly devout Muslim would/should end up as a global terrorist just for merely doing what his faith oblige him to undertake.
Ladies and gents, regardless of who is funding ISIS and the fact that many of their militants, including Abu Bakr El Baghdadi have been trained in US military base in Jordan and maybe some of their top leaders have been also recruited by CIA, one fact remains so obvious and yet so bewildering.
Those ruthless ISIS terrorists sincerely believe they are pious devotees of Islam’s god “Allah” and that they act according to his holy scripture “Quran” and they are the true followers of his prophet “Mohamed”
You won’t believe this but in a strange way those ISIS terrorists are telling the truth, or what they were made to believe is the truth.
The ugly truth is that ISIS terrorists are acting literally according to some of the many Quran’s verses that incite fighting and killing non-Muslims in almost cold-blooded way.
“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” Quran (2:216)
Now, and before we elaborate any further, let’s get this one thing about Quran straight. Like Judaism, Islam is a religion of laws. Actually Judaism and Islam are so much alike the Quran, not the Christian Bible, should be labeled “The New Testament” … after all, both Quran and the Tanakh are the product of the same Arabic nomadic culture (A topic expanded upon in upcoming series of articles)
While the Gospels of Christianity have been influenced/softened by the Greco-Roman philosophy and separated from the state by the power of Jesus’ famous line “”Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” The Tanakh and Quran kept their strong tribal culture and binding laws unmitigated over the centuries.
As a Christian, as long as you believe in Jesus Christ, you only need the scripture as a spiritual guideline but in Judaism and Islam you’re bound by the canon of your faith to embrace their rules as the instruction book of your day to day life.
The Hebrew/Muslim laws tell their followers what to eat and what not to eat and drink, how to get married, how to get divorced, how to get into the bathroom … and yes how and when to kill the non-believers.
The key point here is how should the Holy Scripture especially those of Islam be interpreted? The verses of any holy scripture should be interpreted in accordance with their historical context, but that is not what the Muslims, at least nowadays, do. (This is the focal source of all extremism and terrorism)
The dilemma of Islam, it has been for a while actually, is that its theologians, Imams and clerics refuse/fail to view the scripture, especially the verses that promote fighting and jihad, within the frame of its historical context.
They’d rather keep them open-ended as part of an eternal and always relevant words of Allah. Most conservative Muslim clerics are under the impression that binding many of the verses to its historicity might restrain the authority of a big chunk of the scripture, and consequently the influence of the Islamic clergy.
This dilemma has been ignored for centuries, thus paving more ways and opening more doors for ultra-conservative literalism, also known as fundamentalism (closest backdoor to violence and terrorism)
That said, the more any Muslim conservative reads verses from Quran and memorize Hadith (sayings) by prophet Mohamed, the more he is likely to take it absolutely literally and automatically apply it to his current life and affairs. (Not to mention that piles of Hadith are of doubtful source and purpose)
“Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”. Quran (3:151)
If we to interpret the above verse in its historical context we will learn that some Pagan tribes of the Arab Peninsula were terrified and finally defeated by the raids of Mohamed and his followers back in the early seventh century.
But if we to interpret it literally and maybe relevant to the present point in time, then we are talking about ISIS mujahideen casting terror, by mass execution and beheading like the early Muslim fighters used to do, into the hearts of the followers of the infidels Bashar Al-Assad of Syria and Al- Maliki of Iraq, for they ruled not according to Islamic Sharia.
Do you see how terrifyingly simple this is, and how terrifyingly complicated this has become?
At this point in my article I expect many to be offended by my candid exposition and they might try and refute my thesis by irritably commenting “Early Muslims and Mujahideen never killed fellow Muslims” and my reply would be “yes they did; Sunnis killed Shia in Karbala (680 A.D) and a bloody perpetual conflict between the two sects has ensued ever since till this very day. (Not to mention the massacres perpetrated by Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates)
While everybody is agitatedly following the news and videos of ISIS, nobody is asking the logical question “How did such a group of dangerous fanatics create in the first place?
ISIS has created not only due to militarization by US army nor recruitment by CIA but primarily because of misinterpreted scripture and bad dogma.
Another ugly truth is the fact that early Muslims of the Arab Peninsula, during and following the death of Mohamed, were so brutal in their fighting and raids.
The early Muslims “Sahabah” were economically desperate; as a newly formed community they needed money and craved for influence so they began by raiding trade caravans in the Peninsula (the ancient spices and incense road) and ended up raiding Persian, Roman and Egyptian territories.
Beheading the enemies, as a means to evoke fear, was a common practice in the ancient Arabian tribal wars. Khalid Bin Walid, the military commander of the early days of the Islamic state never hesitated to behead the fighters of his enemies.
The Islamic records reveal that Bin Walid after the battle of Ullais 633 A.D, aka the battle of blood river, spent a whole day and night beheading 7000 soldiers and dumping them in the river(flowing it with their blood) in rejoice and gratitude for Allah’s brought-victory over the Persians.
Submit to Islam and be safe. Or agree to the payment of the Jizya, and you and your people will be under our protection, else you will have only yourself to blame for the consequences, for I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life. (Khalid Bin Walid’s letter to the Sassanid Persians before he raided their empire – very similar to ISIS raid threats)
Now, could you see the example ISIS mujahidin are following. What ISIS did to the Christians of Mosul is no different than what Bin Walid had earlier done, with the blessings of Islam’s Caliphate at the time, to the Christians of the Sassanid Empire.
Contrary to what the clergy or Islamic media claim, ISIS and Al Qaeda is not the exception, the millions of so called moderate Muslims around the world are.
Those fundamentalist Islamists who are casting terror into the heart of the civilized world are but a copycat of the mujahidin of early Islam. Whether we like it or not this is the ugly truth.
The reason why the majority of Muslims does not act like ISIS nor condone its crimes is because those millions of the so called moderate Muslims have not been prone to fundamentalist Islamic teaching through indoctrination (intellectual hypnosis)
Once they are, even if they were brought up in western communities, a considerable faction of them especially those with assimilation and economic problems will turn into dogmatic Jihadists ready to be recruited by ISIS.
As a matter of fact one of the most alarming ISIS-related phenomena is western Jihadists. The influx of European, American, Canadian and even Australian fundamentalist Muslims into ISIS held territories has by far been worrying (both Westerners and moderate Muslims)
This massive signing up to ISIS radical ideology, if anything, means that Muslims with their current unchecked fundamentalist religious narrative are not and actually will not be able to assimilate into western community and culture. This is a grave sign of failing multiculturalism that needs more time and space than this post allows.
Another important factor that many tend to overlook is that the majority of world’s Muslims act according to preconceptions that their own indigenous culture and traditions have mainly contributed to and not only Islam. Hence the term “moderate Muslims” denotes an attitude/mindset brought about by a blend between different cultures, be it Egyptian, Syrian or Persian and Islam.
That’s why hordes of moderate Muslims disgustedly point the finger at radical groups like ISIS and cry out “That’s not our Islam” …well of course it’s not.
And indeed that intercultural blend is the reason why the fundamentalist and harsh Bedouin side of Islam has been ameliorated enough to allow millions of Muslims to coexist with their fellow men of other creeds and theology over the long centuries.
ISIS could be a peril to Islam’s reputation and future around the world, but there is a good flip-side to this situation. Never before in recent times have the Muslim clergy had the opportunity and the imperative to embark on reforming Islam.
Jihadist groups and the rise of political Islam won’t be eradicated or even curbed by air power and drone attacks. ISIS, Al Qaeda, al-Nusra front and Muslim Brotherhood won’t be dismantled except by reforming and changing the mainstream narrative of Islam. For Muslims, nothing short of that will be like burying their heads in the sand.
ISIS is a reason enough for high profile Muslim scholars to start purifying the Hadith from tons of controversial sayings and teachings, doing more harm than good, claimed to have been told by Mohamed.
ISIS is a reason enough to start a new approach in interpreting the Quran’s verses especially those narrating the chronicles of Mohamed and followers’ battles against pagans.
Launching a new school of credible and enlightened Muslim scholars that will respect the historical context of the scripture verses is the first step toward reforming Islam.
This couldn’t have been more urgent a time, for world Muslims have been leaning dangerously towards fundamentalism and extremism throughout the last 80 years (ever since the establishment of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and following the rise of Wahhabi tide in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan)
If this rare opportunity for reforming Islam passed unnoticed and unexploited, then we will suffer from endless and more powerful tides of fundamentalist Jihadist groups.
And we have to beware of the fact that the groups that will follow ISIS will be more cruel and tougher and they will definitely attract huge numbers of mujahideen, so huge no military coalition will be able to break them down.
Most probably the current coalition led by US will be able to dismantle ISIS militarily but not ideologically. The task of dismantling ISIS bad ideas and dangerous dogma is the vital battle that Muslims themselves led by their scholars and clergy should undertake.
I will wind up with one of ISIS favorite verses that one always hears it narrated in the background, along with their official ode/anthem in most of the execution and beheading videos. And according to ISIS “fitna” here means nonbelievers in Islam.
“And fight with them until there is no more fitna (unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah” Quran (8:39)
“This post is not by any means intended to offend Muslims or degrade the religion of Islam, rather it is a humble attempt by the author to contribute to reforming the current fundamentalist Islamic narrative that if not checked will unfortunately breed more violence, intolerance and terrorism” Dr. Ashraf Ezzat