BAGHDAD, Manchester, Kabul and London. Who knows who will be next? The headlines reflect unspeakable acts of terror against innocent civilians, some in the name of a now fragmented “Caliphate”, a so-called “Islamic state” in Syria and Iraq being smashed to pieces – militarily at least.
And as the IS group fragments, and its foreign fighters die on the battlefield – or slink back like whipped dogs to their home countries – the “War on Terror” industry stands to make trillions out of security, and inconveniencing airline passengers – especially Muslims who will be extensively profiled.
And as former IS foot-soldiers and acolytes commit atrocities in the capitals of the world in contradiction of every tenet of Islam, Muslims bear the brunt. Let’s be clear. The IS group does not represent Islam. To kill an innocent person in any faith is major breach of that faith. Islam is no different. Muslims do not condone the killing of innocent civilians.
And even if these terror acts may prove to be false flag operations in a world of burgeoning fake news, our response should be exactly the same. Bombing and killing in public places, burning people alive, intimidatory limb-chopping, enslavement, marital bondage and the execution of dissenting Muslims, has no legal precedent in Sacred Law.
Shari’ah – it’s lexical meaning is a watering hole – has been designed, say scholars, not just for the benefit of Muslims, but for all mankind.
The IS group is an apocalyptic, end-time cult – shamefully propped up at certain stages by certain Gulf countries, the US and even Turkey – for a mixed cocktail of political agendas in a destructive regional conflict. Sadly, the ugliest dimensions of this conflict have spilled over into the west, the west whom the IS group holds responsible for all the ills of our era.
Obviously, there are serious questions arising in the Muslim world such as a massive youth bulge, chronic unemployment, unending dictatorships, occupation, foreign meddling, a lack of economic growth, drone strikes and endemic corruption.
To this effect the IS group magazine, Dabiq, has called on “Muslims” to rise up with acts of terror against host governments outside of IS territory, saying that failure to do this – or to emigrate to the mythical “Islamic state” – would render one an unbeliever (whose blood would be halal).
But this is a naïve, uninformed and inappropriate response. Did the Prophet (s) ever say that two wrongs would make a right? Or that as believer, the means would ever justify the end? Or, that death was the very ethos of faith?
Indeed, the IS group has proved – that by supporting terror as a means to its end – it has nothing to do with Islam, or any genuine faith. The IS group might have been founded as a so-called “Sunni vanguard” against the lack of national reconciliation by former Iraqi leader, Nuri al-Maliki. But the IS group, Islamic? Never.
The IS group, initially a political response to a regional political problem caused largely by the Bush family, swept up recruits through a mixture of genuine social grievance, street-savvy social media and the emotionalism of manufactured religiosity.
In the hands of Hajji Bakr, the former Saddam Hussein Republican guard officer and the original engineer of IS, the group’s agenda mutated into an ad-hoc, pseudo-Islamic notion of neo-colonialism to gain revenge against political Shi’ism.
What has set the IS group apart from the neo-Wahhabi extremists that preceded it, such as Al-Qaeda, was the fact that for a while, it controlled large swathes of territory. It amassed billions of dollars by looting national treasures, violating historical sites, robbing banks and selling pirated oil to neighbouring countries.
As the Iraqi and other allied forces sweep up former IS held towns and cities, there is evidence that the IS group did run a “state” – of sorts – and that at certain levels it did reach limited levels of functionality. But that is all we can say. For how much of a state is a failed state?
The political vacuums of Syria, Iraq – and even Yemen – may not be our fault. However, the sad truth is that as a world community, rapidly becoming over-run by Trumpism and political dishonesty, nobody actually cares. It means that we as Muslims have to stand up and be counted amongst those who will not tolerate terror, lies and slander in our name.
In the same way that the odious trolls of Islamophobia such as Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders, Ayan Hirsi, Sheila Musaji, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes and other racist shills consistently trot out their phobic nonsense online and on Fox, we have to be there as well – challenging with adab, good argument and common sense.
This means that we will have to repeat, over and over – and over again – that we do not support suicide bombings, crude jihadism, misogyny, discrimination against other faiths and injustice. We have to remind the world – and ourselves – that the IS group represents utopian madness; that what it does and says are all perversions, not only in our name, but in everybody’s name too.