Why Aren’t Muslim Nations Rising Against ISIS?

Why Aren’t Muslim Nations Rising Against ISIS? September 4, 2014
Photo courtesy of The Guardian
Photo courtesy of The Guardian

By Hesham A. Hassaballa

The horror of ISIS continues, seemingly unabated. Making good on their threat, ISIS terrorists murdered a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, in an act of true bloodthirsty barbarism, and they threaten do to the same to a British national. This is in apparent revenge for U.S. airstrikes against ISIS positions in the recent days and weeks.

While I find great joy at seeing our military attack these horrific militants, who have spread chaos and terror in the name of Islam, the world should not have to wait until the U.S. finally decides to act. As the barbarism of ISIS continues, one question blares in my mind:

Where is the Muslim world? 

Yes, there have been condemnations of the actions of ISIS by Muslim individuals, groups and organizations all across the world, and this is good. This is right. This is needed. This belies the continued claims by some that Muslims have not condemned ISIS and other terrorists acting in the name of Islam enough.

But there has to be more. There has to be more action, military action, against the forces of ISIS and their barbaric interpretation of Islam. There has to be a concerted effort by the Muslim nations in the region — and beyond — to stop ISIS in its tracks.

The very word of God commands it:

“If two groups of believers fall into fighting, then make peace between them; but then, if one of the two [groups] goes on acting wrongfully towards the other, fight against the one that acts wrongfully until it reverts to God’s commandment … (49:9)”

Is there any question that this group ISIS is acting wrongfully against another party of believers? Is there any question that this group ISIS is committing hiraba across northern Iraq and Syria? Is there any question that this group ISIS acts wrongfully against all humanity?

There is no question, and it is the duty of Muslim-majority nations to rise up against these neo-Kharijite barbarians to stop their reign of tyranny and terror.

I know that there are geopolitical games and schemes at play in this whole scenario in Iraq and Syria. I understand that there are national interests at stake, and this can explain — in part — why ISIS came to being in the first place. I can also see that uniting to fight for the common good figures low on the part of many nations in the region.

But this is where Islam comes in; this is where our faith takes hold and demands that we look beyond geopolitics and national interest. There are people — innocent people — being killed and turned out from their homes in droves. There are places of worship that are being — and have already been — destroyed. These must be more important than geopolitics and national interest.

Again, the very word of God explains why, sometimes, fighting is necessary:

“ … For if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques — in [all of] which God’s name is abundantly extolled — would surely have been destroyed [before now] (22:40)”

It does not matter that these militants call themselves “Islamic.” It does not matter that they call God as a witness to what they are doing. They are evil, and they are doing evil that must be stopped. The word of God describes them well:

“Now, there is a kind of man whose views on the life of this world may please thee greatly, and [the more so as] he cites God as witness to what is in his heart and is, moreover, exceedingly skillful in argument. But whenever he prevails, he goes about the earth spreading corruption and destroying property and progeny [even though] God does not like corruption. And whenever he is told, ‘Be conscious of God,’ his false pride drives him into [even greater] sin …” (2:204–2:206)”

These people must be stopped, and although I’m happy when America does it, the Muslim world should be in the forefront of the fight against ISIS.

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a columnist at Patheos and a frequent contributor to altmuslim at Patheos.

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