Muslim Scholars Denounce ISIS

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.

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  • Reginald Selkirk

    Good luck to them in getting a larger percentage of Muslims to accept that death as a penalty for apostasy or infidelity are not acceptable.

  • sunsangnim

    Bill O’Reilly will simply ignore this letter and demand to know why no Muslim groups have denounced ISIS.

  • colnago80

    Re sunsangnim @ #2

    Nah, Billo the clown will just trot out the no true Scottsman shtick to apply to those scholars.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Look, just like The Gays sometimes say they don’t want to destroy marriage to cover for their destruction of marriage, these Muslins are covering for their planned destruction of America and Freedom and America.

    That’s just common sense.

  • raven

    Well over 90% of the victims of Moslem Jihadists and terrorists have been other Moslems.

    They might hate the west but they hate each other more and they are a lot closer to each other.

  • raven

    Hard to say when the turmoil in the middle east will end. It’s been going on for decades now.

    The country to watch is Egypt. They have 84 million people, expanding rapidly. The Nile no longer runs to the sea, the delta where everyone lives has salt water moving up, They import liquid fuels and 40% of their food.

    This is setting up to be a rarity, a Malthusian disaster.

    These almost never happen. What happens is people walk up to the Malthusian cliff. They look over the edge. And then decide, “No, not today.” Let’s not go over it.

    China turned around. Egypt hasn’t even shown signs of noticing it.

  • laurentweppe

    This is a war between barbarism and humanity.

    No, this is a three way war were brown skinned would-be aristocrats and white skinned would-be aristocrats sandwich all those who’d rather live in societies not dedicated to sustain the parasitic lifestyle of a tiny number of bloodlines.

    The main difference between the two groups of would-be aristocrats is that after being clobbered several times, the white skinned ones changed their tune and now pretend to be the Real-True-Defenders™ of modern civilization in order to sabotage it from the inside while the other ones are still trying direct confrontation.

  • Loqi

    This is a war between barbarism and humanity.

    How I wish that were true. We’ve got some pretty vile barbarians here. You can identify them by the fact that they’re always shouting about killing the vile barbarians there. And by “killing the vile barbarians,” they generally mean killing indiscriminantly.

  • Michael Heath

    It will be interesting to see this ‘no true Scotsman’ argument play out.

    Within Christianity I see liberal Christians having the best arguments that politicized conservative Christians are,

    ‘no true Scotsmen’; even though I find these arguments entirely unconvincing. However many nones see it opposite of liberal Christians, that they’re the no true Scotsman because they don’t conclude Jesus is God. I think that’s partly due to their desire to criticize Christianity in general where conservative Christians are a target-rich group. I increasingly find this perspective by the nones at best, moronic, and certainly infused with a heavy dose of denialism given the millions of practicing Christians, through the ages and now, who don’t believe Jesus is God.

    We haven’t seen this debate within Islam here in America’s public square. That’s with the exception of conservative Christians falsely claiming that all Muslims are just like al Qaeda or Saudi Arabia’s authorities (some hyperbole injected here). And just like liberal Christians have to do the heavy lifting when it comes to claiming they hold the moral high ground within Christianity, liberal and moderate Muslims will have that same heavy load to carry. Partly because conservatives and authoritarians are far more apt to defame liberals and moderates than vice versa (with the noted exception of some nones above).

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com tommykey

    The Muslim world is in severe crisis, and just as when some individual people in severe crisis resort to extreme religious piety and fundamentalism as a response, we are seeing the same thing played out on a large scale in places like the Middle East, Nigeria, Somalia, etc. A segment of Muslims believe their problems stem from not being pure enough Muslims, so there is a lashing out against fellow Muslims deemed not pure enough in addition to attacks on non-Muslims. The irony in it is that the greatest Muslim states of the past were at least to some degree pluralistic. Ummayad Spain, Mogul India under Akbar and his immediate successors, Ottoman Turkey, etc. at their height were states in which non-Muslims could participate, albeit with an inferior status.

    Eventually, the violence will burn itself out and a new equilibrium attained, though what that equilibrium will be remains to be seen. It may involve a redrawing of borders in the Middle East that were set down under the Sykes-Picot Agreement after WWI. There will also have to be some resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, though for now it seems Israel has a breathing space from outside pressure while the Muslim states of the Middle East are preoccupied with ISIS, Syria, and a general conflict between Shia and Sunni in the region. That respite won’t last forever though.

  • theguy

    “These almost never happen. What happens is people walk up to the Malthusian cliff. They look over the edge. And then decide, “No, not today.” Let’s not go over it.

    China turned around. Egypt hasn’t even shown signs of noticing it.”

    Not relevant to the topic at hand, but I don’t think China really would have needed a one-child policy if they hadn’t been communist and instead allowed their economy to grow, possibly with free (optional) birth control.

  • grumpyoldfart

    Didn’t take them long did it? Ratbag Muslims have been imposing cruel punishments for over a thousand years – and now some of them have decided to speak out. Too little too late.

  • Chiroptera

    raven, #5: They might hate the west but they hate each other more and they are a lot closer to each other.

    Very similar to Christians for a couple of thousand years. Finally they got tired of always killing each other and so when Christian heretics and infidels came up with the Enlightenment they were willing to listen and give it a try.

    Maybe something similar is happening within Islam; someday conservative Muslims may claim that freedom of conscience was their idea all along.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    This is very important and only the latest, though most prominent and authoritative, rejection of Jihadist ideology by Muslims.

    Is it?

    I believe this is an English translation:

    http://lettertobaghdadi.com/

    I see some good things, but I also see some completely barbaric things being clearly defended as “undeniably Muslim”. If this is the best the “liberal Muslims” can muster, I’m not impressed. This document is still further to the right than many modern American Christian dominionists.

    The good:

    Unconditional forbidding of killing of journalists and aid workers. Props. See section 7. Of course, unless they are apostates or satanists.

    Unconditional forbidding of slavery. Props here. See section 12.

    Unconditional forbidding of child soldiers. Props here. See section 15.

    Unconditional forbidding of torture. Props here. See section 17. However, note that the death penalty for many crimes is still ok. The takeaway on this point from the letter seems to be that it’s horrid to cut off someone’s head with a knife, but with a guillotine …

    Proper treatment of prisoners of war and civilians in war. Good stuff here. See section 8d.

    People of the scripture should not be killed merely for non-Muslim-belief. Includes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism, Hinduism, and many, many offshoots thereof. See section 10.

    Unbelievers, including “agnostics”, should not be killed merely for being agnostics. Unless you’re a formerly-Muslim apostate – see below. See section 11.

    Women. It’s said to treat them better, specifically that they should be educated. It’s still far short of equality though. See section 14.

    National allegiance and affiliation is ok. See section 23.

    Saying it’s bad to call for all Muslims to immigrate and thereby screw the native inhabitants. I love the comparison to how that’s exactly what happened with the creation of Israel.

    The bad:

    Apostates. The letter rests clearly on the assumption that formerly-Muslim apostates should be killed. The letter goes to great lengths to ensure it’s only applied to those who openly, clearly, and without duress reject Islam. It even goes out of its way to say that many offshoots of Islam are still Islam. However, the letter also clearly rests on the assumption that apostates should be killed. See section 9. Section 11 relies on the assumption apostates should be killed (“except for apostates”). Section 14 says that the punishment for certain crimes is not negotiable. Section 16 basically says be nice when you cut their head off, and it says extenuating circumstances can sometimes mean the punishment can be lessened or waved.

    Satanists. Totally ok to kill them. See section 11.

    Jihad as armed violence. Section 8 goes to great lengths to try and downplay it, but it also does clearly state that armed violence is part of jihad. Section 8c says that unprovoked war is not allowed, but if you’re attacked first, then you should spread Islam by the sword and make your enemies convert or die. (The whole “convert or die” thing is disallowed by another section, which just makes the letter inconsistent.) I wonder if publishing cartoons making fun of Islam is sufficient cause for a war…

    Taxing non-Muslims more. Section 10 seems totally ok with “convert, die, leave, or pay the non-Muslim” tax. The letter commands merely that it be done nicely. The letter also makes some noises that the non-Muslim tax should be less than the Muslim tax, but a quick wikipedia search shows that this is a controversial position.

    Section 21. Armed rebellion against non-Muslim leaders. This one is interesting. I can’t make any sense of it. It seems to be contradictory. At times, it seems to be saying that armed rebellion against any non-Muslim is justified (though non-violent revolution is preferred), and armed rebellion is justified when the leader does not implement Sharia. Other times it says armed rebellion is not justified if leader is non-Muslim and does not implement Sharia.

    Section 5. Practical Jurisprudence. In brief, it says: Realities make it difficult to implement a lot of the rules of Sharia, but we’d like to do so at the earliest opportunity. Plus some noises towards compassion and mercy in extenuating circumstances.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    PS: One more bad. The overall point of the letter is that only those sufficiently educated can make proper sense of the Quran and Hadith. Which in effect means putting all of the power in the hands of an elite class of clerics. Theocracy ahoy!

  • exi5tentialist

    Ultimately it’s up to each of us to choose our labels for ourselves and for others. The choices we make determine where we sit on multiple axes of oppression. Blithely using the word “Jihadist” to mean terrorist is oppressive because it denies non-terrorist muslims the opportunity present their version of jihad to a western audience. Anybody can decree anyone else to be muslim or non-muslim or anything. Words, as Richard Dawkins once said, are our servants, not our masters. Therefore why is it so important to insist that IS are “true muslims”? Is it because it feeds a stereotype about “true islam”, one that suits certain anti-islam quarters in the atheist community?

    If we’re using the term barbarism, which I think we all know carries racist baggage, then we need to ask why it isn’t equally being applied to western fighters in this new war. Drones, bombs, uranium-tipped weapons, ground troops – the whole panoply of barbarism has been deployed by the Americans in the last 13 years. Why so one-sided?

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    If we’re using the term barbarism, which I think we all know carries racist baggage, then we need to ask why it isn’t equally being applied to western fighters in this new war. Drones, bombs, uranium-tipped weapons, ground troops – the whole panoply of barbarism has been deployed by the Americans in the last 13 years. Why so one-sided?

    Who says I don’t call the Bush and Obama administration barbaric too? I do. I want both Bush and Obama up on war crimes charges, and possibly treason. (IIRC, purely by US law both have committed treason by aiding and abetting the torture of POWs.) I know it’ll never happen, but I can dream…

  • dan4

    @16 (and, I guess, @17, since he quoted the relevant passage and didn’t take any exception to it in his response): “Ground troops”=”barbarism?”

  • dingojack

    ” Blithely using the word “Jihadist” to mean terrorist is oppressive because it denies non-terrorist muslims the opportunity present their version of jihad to a western audience. ”

    And it denies non-Muslim terrorists freedom from association with Islam.

    Dingo

  • exi5tentialist

    @18 It all depends on what they’re doing. A uranium-tipped missile isn’t barbaric if it’s sitting in a warehouse in Nevada and never gets used.

  • dan4

    @20: So ground troops aren’t “barbaric” as long as they’re not being used. Gotcha. You’re an anti-military piece of shit.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    The overall point of the letter is that only those sufficiently educated can make proper sense of the Quran and Hadith. Which in effect means putting all of the power in the hands of an elite class of clerics. Theocracy ahoy!

    What, the ISIL thugs aren’t theocrats?

    Given the available choices here, a theocracy run by an educated elite sucks WAAAY less than a theocracy run by brain-dead nihilistic pond-scum.

  • eric

    exi5tentialist:

    Therefore why is it so important to insist that IS are “true muslims”?

    Because if you don’t identify the disease properly, you will administer the wrong medicine and the patient will not get better.

    In order to stop violent extremism, it is important to properly identify what motivates it. If you run around trying to fix “western colonialism” or poverty because you think those are causes of violence, when the real cause is religion, then your efforts to stop the killing will fail. The reverse is true, too, of course – I’m not saying religion is always the cause of violence, I’m saying that when the evidence points to it being a cause we should not shirk from admitting that, we should not shirk from trying to address religion in those cases.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523300770 stuartsmith

    @20 – Well, they’re not murdering people if they’re not being used, so that sounds pretty fair. Except the ‘anti-military piece of shit’ part, which just sounds like you disagree with him, but don’t actually have any arguments against his position. Which is understandable, since it’s pretty hard to look at what ground troops do when they invade other countries, and describe it as anything but barbarism.

    You do understand that we’re talking about hired killers here, people who murder strangers who have never harmed them and would never have had the opportunity to do so had they not chosen to attack? Who go into other people’s land with the sole purpose of spreading death and destruction, albeit often under the banner of peace and democracy. What other word could possibly be appropriate?

  • exi5tentialist

    @24 Quite. Actually, “piece of shit” is quite mild for the way I get treated on FTB.

    The real puzzler is “anti-military”. It’s a bit like “anti-religion” – it depends. If somebody’s coming to drop bombs on my house then using the military in self-defence is okay by me.

    But using the self-defence argument to send the military 6,000 miles round the planet to occupy people that have never bombed my house and would have no practical means of doing so – yes, I’m anti-military! Such a military is definitely barbaric. In which scenario, who is displaying the barbarism and who is displaying the humanity?

    Don’t know what Ed Brayton’s take is on that.

  • laurentweppe

    Given the available choices here, a theocracy run by an educated elite sucks WAAAY less than a theocracy run by brain-dead nihilistic pond-scum.

    Except ISIS leaders are neither brain-dead nor nihilistic: they are well educated sociopaths who coldly decided that unfettered violence and brutality was the best way to reach their objectives and the worst part is that they’re probably right about that.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Raging Bee

    What, the ISIL thugs aren’t theocrats?

    Given the available choices here, a theocracy run by an educated elite sucks WAAAY less than a theocracy run by brain-dead nihilistic pond-scum.

    Remember that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, and the lesser of two evils is still evil. As I said before, that letter which is purported to come from the modern Muslim scholars is still further to the right than many US Christian dominionists.

    At a minimum, I want to see a so-called moderate Muslim take a clear position in favor of free speech, explicitly including blasphemy, apostacy, and satanism. Until then, I’m not interested in applying the “liberal” or “moderate” labels.

    @16 (and, I guess, @17, since he quoted the relevant passage and didn’t take any exception to it in his response): “Ground troops”=”barbarism?”

    You have to be more specific. In principle, I think that military intervention can be justified. However, it’s hard to find a justified use of the US military in the last few decades. For example, because of Christopher Hitchens, I still have mixed feelings on Iraq. One could have made a good argument that taking out Saddam was a good thing to do given that he killed millions(?) of his own people. Obviously, our intervention as actually carried out in Iraq was a huge miserable failure, but that’s not an indictment of all possible military interventions we could have done in Iraq (or elsewhere). So, use of military sometimes can be barbarism, and sometimes it can be morally obligatory. You’re asking for a one word answer to a complicated question.