straight to the point – from different points of view

Why are so many Muslims joining ISIS? by Kevin Baldeosingh

Why are so many Muslims joining ISIS? by Kevin Baldeosingh

Leaders of several Muslim organisations in Trinidad and Tobago have rejected the group named ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) as anti-Islamic. But, if the group flouts the tenets of Islam, why are so many Muslims joining ISIS?
“They don’t have a good grounding in the basics of the religion,” argues Dr Nasser Mustapha, who is a UWI sociologist and president-general of the Trinidad Muslim League (TML).
After Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced in September that Trinidad and Tobago had joined with the United States to sponsor a United Nations motion to condemn ISIS, the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association (ASJA), the Islamic Missionaries Guild, and the TML all issued statements distancing themselves from ISIS. In a telephone interview with the Sunday Express, Mustapha said, “They are misled in their beliefs. Islam is not spread by military conquest.”
However, British historian Bernard Lewis, one of the world’s leading experts on Middle East affairs, writes in his book What Went Wrong?: “In the course of the seventh century, Muslim armies advancing from Arabia conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa, all until then part of Christendom…In the eighth century, from their bases in North Africa, Arab Muslim forces, now joined by Berber converts, conquered Spain and Portugal and invaded France; in the ninth century they conquered Sicily and invaded the Italian mainland.”
When the Sunday Express pointed out this historical fact to Mustapha, he replied, “Warfare must be justified and must respect the right of non-combatants. ISIS does not do this.” Similarly, an open letter signed by 120 Muslim clerics from around the world cited 24 tenets of Islam which they asserted ISIS had flouted. (See Box One for selected points).
In a post-Cabinet news briefing earlier this month, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said, “There are over 80 countries that have persons who have now been involved as freedom terrorist fighters, and because of that it means persons are being lured throughout the world to get into Syria for the almighty dollar. It is not just any more based on a radical religious belief. It is along the lines of mercenaries.”
Mustapha agreed, saying, “I believe their motivation is not a religious one. There is no religious precedent for suicide bombing and warfare against innocent citizens.” He added, “We believe in martyrdom for a good cause.”
A world survey carried out by the Pew Research Center between 2008 and 2012 found that “most Muslims also reject suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians. However, substantial minorities in several countries say such acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 26 per cent of Muslims in Bangladesh, 29 per cent in Egypt, 39 per cent in Afghanistan and 40 per cent in the Palestinian territories.”
It should be noted that Muslims in India, Saudi Arabia, and Syria were not included in the survey, and that the categories “Rarely” and “Never Justified” were lumped together to give the majorities stating they were against suicide bombing. Pew also found that at least half of Muslims said they are “somewhat or very concerned” about religious extremism.
But American writer Sam Harris, who is the third best-known atheist in the Western world (after biologist Richard Dawkins and the late journalist Christopher Hitchens) argues in his book The End of Faith that: “Most Muslims appear to be ‘fundamentalist’ in the Western sense of the word—in that even ‘moderate’ approaches to Islam generally consider the Koran to be the literal and inerrant word of the one true God. The difference between the fundamentalists and the moderates—and certainly the difference between all ‘extremists’ and moderates—is the degree to which they see political and military action to be intrinsic to the practice of their faith.”
The Pew survey supports Harris’s view, finding that “most adherents of the world’s second-largest religion are deeply committed to their faith and want its teachings to shape not only their personal lives but also their societies and politics.”
So ISIS spokesmen claim to be following the word of Allah. In a Ramadan statement about establishing their caliphate, ISIS, quoting Quranic verses and hadiths, said: “Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession upon the earth… and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has preferred for them.”
Thus, although Muslims are supposed to fight only in defence of Islam, scholar Ibn Warraq (a pseudonym used by the author of Why I am not a Muslim in order to avoid being killed by Islamists) writes: “Given the long history of conflict between Islam and the West, almost any act of violence against infidels can now be plausibly construed as an action in defence of the faith.”
Former PNM Senator and Laventille community activist Muhammad Shabazz argues that America is the core cause for ISIS’s actions. “The third world war is going on right now,” he told the Sunday Express. “ISIS says that if the US leaves the Middle East, there will be no problem.” But Shabazz also disagrees with ISIS’s actions, such as beheading captives. “I really believe in a philosophy of peacefulness,” he said. As to why some local Muslims have joined ISIS, he said, “I do not know why a man might do that. I think it’s young people who don’t know Islam and are not exposed to it.”
Mustapha said that the local people joining ISIS “had very little to lose. They have weak social attachments to their communities, and relatively weak family structure. They are misled in their belief. I don’t see any scholars, locally or internationally, supporting ISIS.”
Harris, however, writes: “Nothing explains the actions of Muslim extremists, and the widespread tolerance of their behaviour in the Muslim world, better than the tenets of Islam”. He adds that Western factors like the Israeli occupation can be overlooked “because the world is filled with poor, uneducated, and exploited people who do not commit acts of terrorism…of the sort that has become so commonplace among Muslims.”
Both Warraq and Harris list verses (suras) from the Quran and hadiths (acts and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) which can be interpreted as justifying warfare, particularly against “unbelievers”—ie, anyone who does not accept Islam. (See Box Two). The Quran has over 100 suras enjoining Muslims to fight or hate unbelievers, and Warraq writes: “It is abundantly clear from many of the above verses that the Koran is not talking of metaphorical battles or moral crusades: it is talking of the battlefield.”
The United Nations 2009 Arab Human Development Report, which was independently authored by intellectuals and scholars from Arab countries, found that, “Despite the Islamic movements’ positioning on the political stage, transition to democracy is not their strategic demand. It is, rather, their path to power, which will then enable them to implement their strategic goal of rebuilding Arab societies on their vision of Islam.”
In respect to ISIS, Mustapha said, “I do not know what they hope to achieve at the end of their mission.” ISIS itself defines the group’s goals in their statement: “Succession, establishment, and safety—a promise from Allah reserved for the Muslims, but with a condition—“They worship me (Allah) and do not associate anything with me” (24:55). Having faith in Allah, keeping far from the gateways to shirk (polytheism) and its various shades, along with submitting to Allah’s command in everything big and small, and giving Him the level of obedience that makes your lusts, inclinations, and desires to be in compliance with what the Prophet (peace be upon him) came with—only after this condition is met will the promise be fulfilled. For by fulfilling this condition comes the ability to build, reform, remove oppression, spread justice, and bring about safety and tranquillity.”
Dr Mustapha denied that the ultimate goal of all believing Muslims was to convert everyone to Islam or to have a world subject to Islamic rule. “Islam is not incompatible with democracy,” he said. “The Quran says there is no compulsion in religion. People are free to choose.” Asked if this meant that states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where people can be executed for apostasy, are un-Islamic, Mustapha said, “Yes. Even Muslims there do not have certain rights that they enjoy in Western democracies, such as the right to criticise the government.”
However, Sura 61:9 of the Quran states, “He it is who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist.” And Bernard Lewis in his book Crisis in Islam writes: “The presumption is that the duty of jihad will continue, interrupted only by truces, until all the world either adopts the Muslim faith or submits to Muslim rule.”

Why ISIS is anti-Islamic

1. It is forbidden in Islam to issue fatwas without all the necessary learning requirements. Even then fatwas must follow Islamic legal theory as defined in the Classical texts. It is also forbidden to cite a portion of a verse from the Qur’an—or part of a verse—to derive a ruling without looking at everything that the Qur’an and Hadith teach related to that matter. In other words, there are strict subjective and objective prerequisites for fatwas, and one cannot ‘cherry-pick’ Qur’anic verses for legal arguments without considering the entire Qur’an and Hadith.
2. It is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent.
3. Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.
4. It is forbidden in Islam to enact legal punishments (hudud) without following the correct procedures that ensure justice and mercy.
5. It is forbidden in Islam to torture people.
6. Armed insurrection is forbidden in Islam for any reason other than clear disbelief by the ruler and not allowing people to pray.

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