Sunday, September 14, 2014

Find the True Islamic Scholar

Former U.S. President George W. Bush

Former President George W. Bush (Harvard Business School, MBA '75)

   The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.  That's not what Islam is all about.  Islam is peace.  These terrorists don't represent peace.  They represent evil and war.

     When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world.  Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace.  And that's made brothers and sisters out of every race -- out of every race.  
                          ~ President George W. Bush,  Islamic Center September 17, 2001 

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama as law student (J.D. Harvard '91}

Now let’s make two things clear:  ISIL is not “Islamic.”  No religion condones the killing of innocents.  And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.  And ISIL is certainly not a state. 
                           ~   President Barack Obama, The White House September 10th 2014

British Prime Minister David Cameron 

Caricature of British Prime Minister David Cameron (M.A. Brasenose College, Oxford '88)

"They [ISIS] boast of their brutality; they claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters.” 
                                    ~ British Prime Minister David Cameron September 14, 2014 

Self appointed ISIS/ISIL/IS Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi

                                       Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (B.A., M.A., PhD Islamic Studies, Islamic University of Baghdad}

Here the flag of the Islamic State, the flag of tawhīd (monotheism), rises and flutters. Its shade covers land from Aleppo to Diyala. Beneath it, the walls of the tawāghīt (rulers claiming the rights of Allah) havebeen demolished, their flags have fallen, and their borders have been destroyed. Their soldiers are either killed, imprisoned, or defeated. The Muslims are honored. The kuffār (infidels) are disgraced. Ahlus-Sunnah (the Sunnis) are masters and are esteemed. The people of bid’ah (heresy) are humiliated. The hudūd (Sharia penalties) are implemented – the hudūd of Allah – all of them. The frontlines are defended. Crosses and graves are demolished. Prisoners are released by the edge of the sword. The people in the lands of the State move about for their  livelihood and journeys, feeling safe regarding their lives and wealth. Wulāt (“governors”) and judges have been appointed. Jizyah (a tax imposed on kuffār) has been enforced. Fay’ (money taken from the kuffār without battle) and zakat (obligatory alms) have been collected. Courts have been established to resolve disputes and complaints. Evil has been removed. Lessons and classes have been held in the masājid  and, by the grace of Allah, the religion has become completely for  Allah
  ~  Declaration of Islamic State by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (a.k.a. Caliph Ibrahim ibn Awwad)  July 1, 2014

It would seem that someone who constantly quotes the Quran and interpretive sharia texts and has several advanced degrees in Islamic studies would be the best bet in that bunch.  While we may vehemently disagree with Bakr al Baghdadi's interpretations and implementation of sharia law, it seems incredulous that secular Western leaders insist that ISIS is not Islamic. Former President George W. Bush was closer to the mark in his comments that the face of terror is not the true face of Islam, but that may be more wishful thinking that comparative theology. 

In a faith of 1.57 billion believers throughout the world, Islam can have many different expressions and emphases.  America has been blessed by a Muslim community which freely practices their faith in a peaceful manner.  Across the Atlantic Ocean, Europe has a more acrimonious experience. Many nations have colonial ties with Muslim majority nations, like Britain (Pakistan), Netherlands (Indonesia), France (Algeria).  Other European nations invited Islamic immigration as guest workers, like Germany (Turkey) but the cheap labor never moved back home. Now that there are significant European Muslim populations in concentrated enclaves which are adverse to assimilation.  Consequently,  there are no go zones where the police avoid and the Islamic communities semi-formally administer Sharia law, which often conflicts with the jurisprudence of the rest of the state. 

Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has condemned the brutality of ISIS in beheading hostages and killing unbelievers (be they Jewish, Nazarenes a.k.a. Christians, and even other Muslims who do not adhere to their Salifist jihadism) as a" unique evil".  Alas, this is not historically accurate, as the victory of the Knights Hospitaller in Great Siege of Malta (1565),the Holy League's victory at sea in the Battle of Lepanto (1571) and the defeat of the Ottomans in the Siege of Vienna (1683) marks efforts by Muslims to expand their caliphate by the sword. 

Islam is more than a religion but is also a holistic political system with its own jurisprudence. Political Islam is a manifestation of this theocratic thread in Islamic thought. Bakr al Baghdadi's declaration demonstrated point by point how ISIS was incorporating its interpretation of sharia law. Time and again, we in the West are told that Islam is a religion of peace. But the root of the word Islam means submission.  Perhaps by submitting to the five pillars of Islam, a believer is said to gain peace.  Another myth is the CAIR-full instruction that jihad simply means "interior struggle".  The word jihad means struggle.  In the Muslim world, jihad means Holy War.  If it were just the interior struggle, why would Qu'ran 4:94 exempt the elderly and children from jihad?

Many Muslims live out their faith peacefully.  But to deny that the so called Islamic State is not Islamic because it does not comport to our sensibilities as outsiders of what Muslims ought to believe is ludicrous. While we should not mistake all Muslims as radical Islamists, it seems silly to inculcate a cognitive subterfuge. 

Jonah Goldberg offered a challenging point to our secular Islamic scholars entrenched in the corridors of power:  "Instead of Americans trying to persuade Muslims around the world that terrorism is un-Islamic, why shouldn't Muslims be working harder to convince us?"

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