It is true that extremism has reached an unprecedented level of oddness. Do not assume that the menacing Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is only threatening the United States and Arab governments, it is now also terrorizing other extremist groups. This month, ISIS declared war against the Surooris.
The Surooris are a radical group founded by Mohammed Suroor Zain al-Abedin, a Syrian mathematics teacher who worked at a Saudi school. He advocated an ideology refuting traditional Salafism and encouraging religious rebellion. It is believed that he was behind the thorough changes made to the conventional Salafist concept. This group became notorious for its use of takfirism (declaring rivals as infidels) against governments and intellectuals or anyone who disagreed with its religious and political views. The group, which used to terrorize people on websites and elsewhere, is now terrified. It is afraid of ISIS, which considers the Surooris infidels and issued a religious sanction to kill them.
Unexpectedly, the Surooris, the Muslim Brotherhood and other similar extremists have started warning people against ISIS. They all have turned against extremism and against whom they call the al-Khawarij party (the outlawed group). They called on all Muslims to fight against ISIS. The Suroori group is no less evil than ISIS. What happened is that ISIS has outsmarted them in their extremism and the group speaking in a more vile language than others have previously. In fact, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing at ISIS’ accusations against Suroori leaders of being agents of Western or Arab regimes and also accusing them of opposing the implementation of the Shariah and similar Islamic symbols.
All extremism is the same
What makes the Surooris think that their so-called sheikhs, religious scholars and students are superior to ISIS’ religious scholars and students? Extremism is the same whatever label it may carry. All extremists use “takfirism” against others and incite killing.
Now ISIS has stepped up its battles and threatened to kill other extremist leaders whether they belong to the Brotherhood, Surooris or Al-Qaeda; all of which were scared of ISIS’ acts and speeches that used to be their own weapon against other peace-loving Muslims.
Now they are swallowing the same bitter pill they used against others in the past. Although extremism is a menace that is harming the entire Muslim world, few have dared to stand and act against it. ISIS is the product of the Suroori teachings, which is the product of extremist ideologies that preceded them. This is the extremist ideology that first began with small issues, but has now grown to be a ghoul threatening Muslims from practicing Islam.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Aug. 22, 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.
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