The Muslims who are condemning ISIS—UPDATED

They are out there—and they are becoming more vocal. From CNEWA’s Rev. Elias Mallon, S.A., Ph.D: 

Faced with the unrelenting reports about the sufferings of Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, even Christians who are friendly toward Muslims can be perplexed and ask, “Why aren’t Muslims speaking out against these atrocities?” The answer is: Muslims have been speaking out in the strongest terms, condemning the crimes against humanity committed by ISIS (or, as it is increasingly called, IS) and others in the name of Islam.

So, why do we not hear more of this?

The first reason is because Islam is not a structurally centralized religion. Unlike, for example, Catholicism, there is no one person or institution that can speak with authority for all Sunnis or even all Shiites — to say nothing of speaking for all Muslims around the world.

The second reason is that there is a huge number of newspapers in Muslim countries throughout the world. Many, if not most, of these newspapers appear in languages unfamiliar to people in the West. Sometimes, it is not a question of Muslims speaking out, but of others just not hearing. Often, the “not hearing” happens because people do not have access to sources or just do not speak the same language. But the voices are out there. And an important media monitoring group has turned up the volume, to make sure more hear them.

MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute), which could never be accused of being apologetic to Islam or Muslims, has just published a “Special Dispatch,” in which it gives a platform to several significant editorials written by Muslims in important Middle Eastern newspapers — condemning the atrocities taking place in Syria and Iraq in no uncertain terms.

Some highlights:

  • In a scathing July 24, 2014 editorial on the issue, the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi stated that the targeting in Mosul of Christians, who have been part of the history and culture of Iraq for centuries, is the most extensive ethnic cleansing of modern times, and a black mark upon the reputation of Islam and the Muslims. The paper went on to call on moderate Muslims to condemn these terrible actions of the “cancerous” and “terrorist” IS, lest they become complicit in a crime against humanity. It also urged them to denounce extremist fatwas, such as the one by Sudanese cleric Muhammad Al-Jazouli, who cited a hadith permitting the killing of “infidel” men, women and children. The paper mentioned that this fatwa was widely published by MEMRI (view this clip on MEMRI TV here). It should be noted that, although the newspaper called this hadith “false” and “unreliable,” it actually appears in the Abu Dawud collection and is considered authentic.
  • Egyptian sociologist and human rights activist Sa’d Al-Din Ibrahim wrote in his weekly column for the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm that the IS’s barbaric, racist and murderous treatment of Christians, unprecedented in the history of the Arab East, is reminiscent of the Nazis and Tatars, and does great harm to Islam. He called upon the Arab League to condemn the IS’s actions.

Check out more at the link.   UPDATE: There has actually been more Muslim criticism of ISIS than many in the West may realize, and it has gone largely unreported. Last week, the Islamic Society of North America, the largest and oldest umbrella organization of its kind in the country, released this statement:

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) denounces the terrorist group known as Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) for its attacks on Iraq’s religious minorities and the destruction of their places of worship…“ISIS actions against religious minorities in Iraq violate the Quranic teaching, ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ (Surat al-Baqara 2:256) ,” said ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid.  “Their actions are to be denounced and are in no way representative of what Islam actually teaches.”

And last month, two leading Imams in Great Britain released a video denouncing ISIS: 

A statement on the Imams Online website says, “Senior British imams have come together to emphasize the importance of unity in the UK and to decree ISIS as an illegitimate, vicious group who do not represent Islam in any way.” They hope the four-minute film will serve to counter the “digital propaganda” disseminated by ISIS, which has been noted for its heavy use of social media. Specifically, their goal is to strongly urge young Britons from traveling to Iraq and Syria to take part in the conflict. They also denounced Sunni-Shiite sectarianism, as earlier this week ISIS destroyed Shiite mosques and shrines. “We are Muslims united against ISIS, against terrorism, against atrocity, against pain and suffering,” says Sayed Ali Rizvi, head of the Majlis Ulama-e-Shia group, in the video.statement from ISIS exhorted Muslims worldwide to join them upon their declaration of an Islamic Caliphate led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “It is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to (him) and support him,” it said. “As a Sunni Muslim, I do not accept the Caliphate of ISIS, I consider ISIS as a terrorist organization,” said Maulana Shahid Raza, of Leicester Central Mosque. Abu Muntasir, chief executive of the charity organiztion JIMAS, said, “Brothers and sisters, if I could tell you in one sentence about ISIS I would tell you that they are evil, they are corrupt, they are self-seeking, self-centered, vicious people. Don’t get mixed up with them.”

And there was this in July, from CAIR

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned as “un-Islamic and morally repugnant” violence and hostilities perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and repudiated those who encourage Americans to join that and other extremist groups. …No religion condones the murder of civilians, the beheading of religious scholars or the desecration of houses of worship. We condemn the actions of ISIS and reject its assertion that all Muslims are required to pay allegiance to its leader. “CAIR strongly urges American imams and other community leaders to continue to speak out against American Muslims traveling abroad to join extremist groups and sectarian militias. While ISIS uses romanticized imagery in its propaganda materials, its human rights abuses on the ground are well-documented.”

UPDATE II: My blog neighbor Sam Rocha also spotlights some Muslim voices condemning ISIS over at the Patheos Muslim Channel. Check it out.  

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