A group of 120 prominent Muslim scholars have issued a written condemnation of the religious claims of ISIS, attempting to refute their position that the Quran supports their barbaric and genocidal actions. They call ISIS’ ideology an “offense to Islam.”
The 22-page letter, written in Arabic and heavy with quotes from the Koran and other Islamic sources, is just as clear as those groups in condemning the torture, murder and destruction Islamic State militants have committed in areas they control.
“You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder,” the letter said. “This is a great wrong and an offense to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world.”
Its originality lies in its use of Islamic theological arguments to refute statements made by self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani to justify their actions and attract more recruits to their cause.
The letter is addressed to al-Baghdadi and “the fighters and followers of the self-declared ‘Islamic State'”, but is also aimed at potential recruits and imams or others trying to dissuade young Muslims from going to join the fight.Nihad Awad of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which presented the letter in Washington on Wednesday, said he hoped potential fighters would read the document and see through the arguments of Islamic State recruiters.
“They have a twisted theology,” he said in a video explaining the letter. “They have relied many times, to mobilize and recruit young people, on classic religious texts that have been misinterpreted and misunderstood.”
This is very important and only the latest, though most prominent and authoritative, rejection of Jihadist ideology by Muslims. It’s not important because it shows that the Jihadists aren’t “real Muslims” — they are — but because it shows that Islam is a very big religion with vastly different interpretations. It goes back to the point I’ve been making for years, that there is no such thing as a One True Islam or One True Christianity, there are many Islams and many Christianities and they differ, sometimes wildly, from one another.
It’s also important because it undermines the perception that this is a war between Islam and the West or between Islam and Christianity, something that conservatives in the Christian west and the Muslim community are constantly claiming. This is a war between barbarism and humanity.