“Our appeal applies to students, religious scholars, preachers, judges and those who have military and managerial and service skills, and doctors and engineers in all fields.”
This call was issued by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who assigned himself as the caliph of Muslims worldwide, not just in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He called on Muslims to immigrate to his state, saying it was the obligation of one billion Muslims across the globe to do so. Social media reactions poured in with plenty of ridicule against ISIS members.
Not all extremists are enthusiastic about ISIS or the al-Nusra FrontAbdulrahman al-Rashed
However, not all people consider ISIS a silly joke. Some people publicize the group and call for fighting in its ranks. Although most of the region’s countries ban travelling to Syria and Iraq due to the violence there and pursue anyone who dares to go to Iraq or Syria, some say the idea of sending over dozens of ISIS-supporting preachers and intellectuals is not bad. Most of those who defend ISIS’ ideology and its state project and encourage fighting among its ranks actually prefer the life which they enjoy in “infidel societies,” whether in the Gulf, or the Arab Maghreb or in Europe.
All talk and no action
In 1990, an Arab imam in a Gulf country used to deliver a sermon every night urging worshippers to fight American troops who came to liberate Kuwait from Saddam’s forces. One night, after he finished his prayers, security forces knocked on his door to inform him that he would be deported due to his provocative speeches. They informed him that they had booked him a free seat aboard a ship headed to the Iraqi port of Basra so he could begin his jihad in Iraq. After crying and attempting to mollify the security forces, he wrote a pledge never to incite violence again.
There are many similar examples, such as those who issue daily fatwas (religious edicts) via the media and who deliver speeches from mosques defending ISIS and encouraging support for it and for other extremist organizations in Iraq and Syria. But they themselves would not accept that their sons travel to the “home of the caliphate.”
We think that after their caliph al-Baghdadi invited them to join his state, it is a duty to remind them that there is now an Islamic state, caliph and caliphate. Therefore, there is no longer any excuse for them to be reluctant and leave their duties to others. It is a duty to send them to live in their utopian state.
But not all extremists are enthusiastic about ISIS or the al-Nusra Front. Abu Mohammad al-Maqdisi, al-Qaeda’s mysterious famous philosopher who was recently released from a Jordanian prison, does not support ISIS, despite being considered the reference point for extremists across the world.
He even warned ISIS in a long letter, writing: “Before I was released I heard of abuses committed by media and religious spokesmen of the two disputing parties (ISIS and the al-Nusra Front) and I responded to some of that [abuse] and I condemned it. After my release from prison I also reviewed some of the abuses and depravities by some men who do not deserve to be described as jihadists or men of religion. It would be fitting to describe them rather as street people. They describe people with different views as foundlings, children of prostitutes and the rest of obscenity and low talk, in addition to unworthy lies and slander.”
Even al-Maqdisi has urged fighting against ISIS! This is the case of a nation hijacked by those who claim to possess religious truths. Their state is being fought for by a group of thugs and criminals who, under their black banners, kill unarmed men, kidnap children and rape women.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 3, 2014.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.