Confronting extremist intellect

ISIS members are the only ones who have issued fatwas to blindly kill Western civilians

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi
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How can a Saudi youth who grew up studying various aspects of religion act treacherously against a Christian resident he does not know? How can he kill him simply because he is a blond-haired European who doesn’t follow Islam?

He must have heard the scholarly statements banning the targeting of innocent non-Muslims. Even scholars who continue to issue fatwas (religious edicts) against infidels actually issue statements along the lines of: “Don’t love them but don’t assault them.”

Therefore, despite their abominable fanaticism, they do not allow for the killing of such foreigners, instead pushing followers to adopt the logic of “hate them but don’t kill them.” It is rather an odd logic, and one of the many reasons behind extremist tendencies which deserve to be intellectually confronted. This is because it seems that employing any security confrontation with that young man and others like him, who are willing to kill a peaceful man just because he’s non-Muslim and blond, is a delusional allegation.

The real disaster is how Muslims who believe they are religious become convinced to follow such ideologie

I posed this first question above as I watched a video of ISIS supporters. In the video, these supporters bragged that weeks ago, they targeted a Danish citizen on a highway outside Riyadh. They said: “This is just the beginning” and indicated that more attacks would follow. Saudi security forces, however, will certainly not allow this to happen as three of the men who assaulted the Danish citizen were soon arrested.

Before finding an answer to my first question, there was another shocking incident that begs the same question. How could that veiled Emirati woman allow herself to carry a knife, walk into a mall in Abu Dhabi, look around and decide that a seemingly random blonde American woman was to be her victim? She followed her victim into the bathroom where she killed her. Did she ask her: “Are you American? What’s your religion? Have you ever thought of converting to Islam? Do you support Israel? Did you vote for George Bush?” We don’t know. All we know is that she stabbed her and left her bleeding to death as she rushed outside the mall stained in blood. She must know that what she did is religiously forbidden even if her victim had answered with yes to most of the aforementioned questions. Apart from how immoral and cowardly this act is, she is simply not allowed to kill a peaceful civilian even in a state of war.

Surely, this woman must have one day asked about the ruling regarding plucking a woman’s eyebrows, so why didn’t she ask about whether it is allowed to kill an American in a mall?

This has all left me asking: What’s happening? What happened to Muslims’ minds? Is it anger? Most of us are angry, but we don’t kill.

ISIS members are the only ones who have issued fatwas to blindly kill Western civilians. However, none of the Muslim nation’s jurists - even those hated by local governments - issued fatwas allowing such hideous acts. ISIS members only respect their own jurists and think that other jurists simply serve their rulers' interests.

But what about Abu Bakr al-Siddiq ,the prophet’s companion and the first Caliph,?

He’s the first of the ancestors (salaf) and the best of them. A document on war ethics was attributed to him long before the Geneva Convention. He certainly rejects what ISIS and its supporters are doing, according to a text he addressed to Usama bin Zayd before he departed for war. But before listening to what Abu Bakr said, I will tell you about the hateful statements made by an ISIS spokesman, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, when he urged his supporters to kill Westerners. His statement shows the great difference between the real Islam practiced by our ancestors and this alleged ancestry of his. Adnani’s statements began with the video in which ISIS supporters in Saudi Arabia claimed responsibility for the attempt to kill the Dane.

Adnani, in his audio recording, addressed “monotheists in Europe, America and Canada” and then addressed people in the Maghreb region and ISIS supporters everywhere, urging them “to kill any American or French infidel or any of their allies.” He said: “If you’re incapable of blowing them up or shooting them, then kill the infidel American or French with a stone or a knife or run him over or throw him from a height or suffocate him or poison him (...) If you can’t, then burn down his house or business or destroy his crops. If you can’t, then spit on his face.” Does any of this signify adherence to war ethics or chivalry? I think that even during the Pre-Islamic Jahiliyyah (ignorance) era, they would reject such treachery and blind assault against civilians. It’s a recipe for hatred that destroys the fabric of society and harms Muslims a lot more than it harms the Westerners who’ve been pictured as brutal zombies killing indiscriminately.

The real disaster is how Muslims who believe they are religious become convinced to follow such ideologies. How does one get influenced by a preacher who is a stranger to them, despite the great legacy of Muslim tolerance?

Now, let’s come back to what Abu Bakr Siddiq said. He advised his army commander as he left town: “ I charge you with ten rules; You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food.”

It is an eloquent speech. These ethical rules are clear cut, and ought to be like Moses' staff, in the sense that once it’s thrown at Adnani’s speech and those extremists around him, it must “devour what they were falsifying.” Why doesn’t this happen? How many times has a sheikh made this compelling argument to address the extremist rhetoric but wasn’t responded to? It is clear that there is something preventing this, but what is it? It’s an issue worthy of discussing before preparing for another conference in another hotel where there’s a wide hall in which the nation’s scholars gather to demonstrate the threat of takfirist intellect.

This article was first published in al-Hayat on December 15, 2014.


Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels.

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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