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Refute false claims to fight the appeal of ISIS

In order to effectively fight ISIS, scholars in the Muslim world should expose its falsehood to expose its distorted ideology

Samar Fatany

Published: Updated:

The Council of Senior Scholars has condemned the killing of the Russian ambassador in Ankara. The scholars said that from a jurisprudence — fiqh and Shariah — point of view, the guarantee of the safety of ambassadors is underlined by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and agreed upon by the Ummah.

Meanwhile, a terrorist attack in Jordan left 19 dead, including five terrorists. In Berlin a terror attack killed 12 and injured 48. Sadly, terrorists continue to radicalize Muslim youth and are spreading fear and horror everywhere.

In order to effectively fight ISIS and the terrorist threat, scholars in the Muslim world should expose its falsehood in order to reduce its appeal and expose its distorted ideology.

The goal of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sham and other terrorist organizations is the formation of an “caliphate” or government. They consider “caliphate” an essential condition for a society to be Islamic and seek the return of the Islamic world to the medieval age.

They base their claims on a distorted interpretation of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). There have been many initiatives to expose the falsehood of ISIS; however, they have not been effective and lack scholarly arguments.

Open letter to Baghdadi

In 2014, over 100 Muslim scholars and clergymen from all over the world released an open letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, accusing him and his army of war crimes, violation of fundamental principles of Islam and perversion of the rules of morality and Shari’ah law.

“Who gave you authority over the Ummah? Was it your group? If this is the case, then a group of no more than several thousand has appointed itself the ruler of over a billion-and-a-half Muslims,” the document stated.

It also included details of acts of ISIS that are prohibited in Islam such as the killing of the innocent, prisoners and emissaries (journalists included), denying women and children their rights, the reintroduction of slavery, torture, disfiguring the dead and destroying graves, harming or mistreating believers of other religions of the Scripture, starting armed insurrection, attempting to establish a caliphate “without consensus from all Muslims,” as well as issuing fatwas without proper religious education.

A more scholarly debate among scholars in the Muslim world could reduce the appeal of ISIS and end the spread of the radicalization of Muslim youth

Samar Fatany

This letter is one of many condemnations of ISIS by Islamic leaders and ordinary Muslims. However, global experts assert that the most effective ideological critics of the terrorists should come from within the Muslim community.

Meanwhile, according to historians and political theorists, the idea of establishing an Islamic state based on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah is incorrect, as neither presents a model for such a state. Islam has firm positions regarding justice and oppression; however, it does not have any model for an “Islamic State.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked his followers to run their societies based on their collective wisdom and consultation.

During the era of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) what existed was the Ummah, a community of Muslim masses. German sociologist and philosopher Ferdinand Tönnies explains that medieval “societies” must be considered as communities to be distinguished from modern societies. Society is the invention of the modern era.

The medieval times

Some political theorists support the argument that in medieval times governments did not have borders but civilian centers. Andrew Vincent argues that the town of Madinah in the Arabian Peninsula in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) lived in the 7th century CE with a small population did not have a government. “Societies of the 7th century were tribal, sparsely populated and simple, the existence of a government, as we understand it today, did not exist.”

Muslim scholar and philosopher Imam Fakhruddin Razi explains that although the Prophet (PBUH) was wiser than all the people, he believed that in many cases the people know better. He quotes the Prophet (PBUH) as saying, “You know your life’s affairs and I know your religious affairs.”

Al-Zamakhshari also quotes the Prophet (PBUH) saying, “Those who consult with and seek advice from others find the best path.” And, the Holy Qur’an says, “They [the believers] employ consultations among themselves” (ash-Shura 38). The Holy Qur’an also says, “There is no compulsion in religion.”

There has been much research with regard to the concept of a worldwide caliphate. However, researchers and historians ask: How can anyone say there is a concept of a caliphate in Islam when this system was never established? No “caliph” was appointed by God and during the time of the Prophet (PBUH), there was no “caliphate” ruling the world.

These are just a few facts out of many that can expose the false claims of a “caliphate”. A more scholarly debate among scholars in the Muslim world could reduce the appeal of ISIS and end the spread of the radicalization of Muslim youth.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on December 24, 2016.
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Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

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