October 3, 2014

​Muslim Scholars tell Islamic State: You Don’t Understand Islam

 ©2014 Religion News Service

More than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world
joined an open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic
State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms.

Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter released September
24 picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of
brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic
state in Iraq and Syria.

Even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien
to most Americans, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of
American-Islamic Relations, who released it in Washington with 10 other
American Muslim religious and civil rights leaders.

“The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical
religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize
young people to join its forces,” said Awad, using one of the acronyms for the
group. “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.”

Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation,
“point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the
violence it has perpetrated. The letter’s authors include well-known
religious and scholarly figures in the Muslim world, including Sheikh
Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the
mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

A translated 24-point summary of the letter includes the following:
“It is forbidden in Islam to torture”; “It is forbidden in Islam to attribute
evil acts to God”; and “It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslims
until he (or she) openly declares disbelief.”

This is not the first time Muslim leaders have joined to
condemn the Islamic State. The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims
in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, for example, last week told the nation’s Muslims that
they should speak out against the “terrorist and murderers” who fight for the
Islamic State and who have dragged Islam “through the mud.”

But the Muslim leaders who endorsed the letter called it an
unprecedented refutation of the Islamic State ideology from a collaboration of
religious scholars. It is addressed to the group’s self-anointed leader,
Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and “the fighters and followers of the self-declared
‘Islamic State.’”

But the words “Islamic State” are in quotes, and the Muslim leaders
who released the letter asked people to stop using the term, arguing that
it plays into the group’s unfounded logic that it is protecting Muslim lands
from non-Muslims and is resurrecting the caliphate — a state governed by a Muslim
leader that once controlled vast swaths of the Middle East.

“Please stop calling them the ‘Islamic State,’ because they are not a
state and they are not a religion,” said Ahmed Bedier, a Muslim and the
president of United Voices of America, a nonprofit that encourages minority
groups to engage in civic life.