Terrorists and their corrupted religious message

It’s enough to use the words “God’s sharia” and “Islam” to divide Muslims

Badria al-Bishr
Badria al-Bishr
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“I abducted them, and I will sell them in the market according to God’s sharia,” Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, said in a video after his group kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria. The demands Boko Haram seek to fulfill after it killed civilians and abducted the girls and threatened to sell them is to establish an Islamic emirate!

It’s enough to use the words “God’s sharia” and “Islam” to divide Muslims. There are reasonable people who consider what’s beyond these terms and there are the blind ones who believe whatever these groups say as long as they use the terms “Islam” and “God’s sharia.” The latter group thus remain confused as they seek justifications for the acts of such terror organizations.

The common people whose minds have been hijacked by some extremist preachers and clerics are incapable of thinking on their own. They are dragged behind these preachers and defend them seeking justifications which reassure them, even if these justifications violate Islam and human values. Boko Haram claims it’s an Islamic group and has abducted schoolgirls and threatened to sell them claiming it will do so as per God’s sharia. So, how do common people justify these acts?

It’s perhaps easy to condemn these groups which are geographically distant from us. The situation becomes more confusing when we are close to the event. The Saudi state news agency recently announced that Saudi authorities arrested a terrorist group linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. The group had reportedly been arming itself and planning explosions.

Perhaps someone would defend them saying “it’s a group that lost its way.” In other words, the group’s intellect is not bad but their expression of it has been exaggerated. It’s thus okay to think that those around you are infidels, that their women are slaves, that the bank deserves to be robbed and that the state is an infidel. If you subscribe to such ideas, you would no doubt lose your way!

Those who support violence, sectarianism and social division are not loyal to a country as their only concern is to swear the oath of allegiance to an Islamic emirate like Boko Haram and the ISIS.

The problem is not how these groups ended up like this but rather with how these groups became as such. Those who are armed in our country or those who kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria did so due to misconceptions about Islam. These misconceptions circulated under the cover of pure Islam and of returning to the concepts of Islam’s golden era - not the concepts based on commendable values but those related to political conditions and war among infidels’ countries and Islam back then. When you’re armed with statements telling you that you’re absolutely right, then you must win this right even if you have to resort to force. And when you have weapons, you must translate your right via murder and abduction. You do all this reassured that this is God’s sharia.

Where were we when these youths were being deceived? Where were we when leader of the Hashashin (Assassins) group drugged young men and then have them wake up among women to make them think they spend a night in paradise? These young men were deceived and would wake up the next morning and assassinate a deputy or a governor because he antagonized the leader of the group.

Not mercenaries

These are not mercenaries. They unfortunately have a solid doctrine.

What’s more dangerous than taking up arms is extremist rhetoric. Proof to that is that any attempt to put an end to such rhetoric is met by resistance or anger because some consider that whoever criticizes these groups is an enemy of Islam. It’s as if Muslims don’t commit mistakes!

How can we separate Islam as a tolerant, ethical and moral religion from Muslims who misinterpreted it and from those who think the more extremist they are, the more right they are?

Is it difficult to say that Boko Haram and the ISIS-linked terrorist group exposed in our country have nothing to do with Islam? Is it difficult for some people to understand that religion is not properly practiced by these people who pull out their arms and abduct girls to sell them as slaves? Perhaps it’s difficult to explain this to some people from our generation who already made up their minds. But when it comes to today’s and tomorrow’s generations, Boko Haram and the ISIS will be seen as no more than new forms of Hashashin.

This article was first published in al-Hayat on May 14, 2014.


Dr. Badria al-Bishr is a multi-award-winning Saudi columnist and novelist. A PhD graduate from the American University of Beirut, and an alumnus of the U.S. State Department International Visitor program. Her columns put emphasis on women and social issues in Saudi Arabia. She currently lectures at King Saud University's Department of Social Studies.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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