SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Voices from within Turkey have joined others from across the Middle East to strongly reject and condemn the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a militant group that in recent months has terrorised citizens in Syria and Iraq.
Muslim community leaders and scholars have clearly made a distinction that separates ISIL from true Islam.
“Those people have been fighting against Muslims, declaring jihad against Muslims, killing Muslims claiming that they have been conducting this massacre in the name of Islam,” Abdulsselam Ari, an academician with the Faculty of Theology at Istanbul University, told SES Türkiye.
“They also claimed to change some of the verse of the Quran. Who are they? Why do they want to change the Quran? By which authorisation do they change it? This is the book of Allah. No power can touch it. They have been debasing Islam. What they have been doing is not acceptable in the name of Islam.”
Egypt’s Grand Mufti recently described ISIL as a “terrorist entity” that has “violated all Islamic values and the great purposes of sharia.”
“Such a bloody extremist group poses a threat to Islam and Muslims and tarnishes its image,” Sheikh Shawqi Allam said in remarks made during an August 12th meeting in Cairo.
“Fighting terrorism and extremism requires international and regional co-operation at all levels,” he said.
The Grand Mufti called on all Arab peoples to unite against these threats and close the doors to sedition, to participate in building their homelands and to prevent any person or entity from sowing the seeds of discord among them.
The Grand Mufti’s remarks “are based on a strong set of sharia and legal evidence,” said Sheikh Abdul Baqi al-Gizawi of the sharia research department at Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa, the international flagship for Islamic legal research.
ISIL’s actions are “truly a disgrace to Islam, Muslims and the history of the Islamic nation,” he told SES Türkiye.
Dar al-Iftaa has maintained that ISIL is dissident from Islam and must be confronted, al-Gizawi said. It also views ISIL’s actions in Iraq as criminal activities, especially its destruction of the shrines and tombs of prophets and the righteous.
Additionally, he said, ISIL’s actions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt, which it claims are in accordance with sharia, “are the ultimate in debasement and trading in religion.”
“Islamic history has never witnessed such a blatant assault on non-Muslims,” he said. “Sharia called for spreading Islam through justice and reason, not by beheadings and destruction of religious structures.”
Islamic scholars are in agreement on ISIL’s extremist views, he said, noting that fatwas and statements similar to the remarks made by Egypt’s Grand Mufti have been issued in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.
With these pronouncements, “the religious cover these criminal gangs hide behind has been lifted,” he said.
Most recently, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh denounced ISIL and al-Qaeda as “the number one enemies of Islam.”
Islamic leaders’ condemnations of ISIL are also being voiced by religious leaders in other faiths.
Bishop Mikhail Bakhos of the Saint Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Giza said the Grand Mufti of Egypt’s remarks affirm the moderate stance advocated by Al-Azhar and confirm that ISIL and groups of its kind do not represent Islam.
“It is not the first time that Egypt’s Muslims have disavowed terrorists,” he told SES Türkiye, calling on the church and civil society, academic, cultural and media organisations to support Dar al-Iftaa and Al-Azhar in their efforts to eradicate terrorist ideology.
This ideology “shows no mercy to anyone, not Muslims, nor Christians, nor the followers of any other faith,” Bakhos said.
Through its sermons and teachings, the church has been stressing that ISIL does not represent Muslims or the teachings of Islam, he added. Preachers and imams in Egypt’s mosques, under instruction from Al-Azhar and Dar al-Iftaa, also are delivering sermons focused on the threat ISIL poses to Arab and Islamic communities, said Sheikh Abdul Moneim Mohammed, imam of al-Nour Mosque in al-Maadi.
They have been explaining how the group’s actions run contrary to Islam, he told SES Türkiye.
Mohammed said he is intensifying the educational sessions he holds with young people between the ages of 15 and 20 to immunize them intellectually and ideologically against recruiting attempts by extremist groups.
“I have, for example, showed a video to a group of youths that depicts some of the crimes carried out by these groups to underscore their ideological deviation and the level of criminality they have reached,” he said.
Ari said that efforts to halt recruitment are critical, but must go beyond education.
“There are innocent people, pure Muslims who have been deceived and joined the organisation,” Ari said. “The important thing is to reach their inner circle, to find out who are the commanders of this organisation. The world can only prevent the expansion of ISIL by dominating the brain of the organisation. No country can succeed to prevent the participations so far. It is something difficult.”
Sami Wahab, a secondary school teacher in Cairo, is looking forward to the start of the school year to explain to his students the statements issued by Dar al-Iftaa in relation to ISIL, he told SES Türkiye.
“Certainly, the role of schools in general and teachers in particular is no less important than the role of clerics and religious institutions in confronting the threat of ideological terrorism and extremism that is trying to spread in the communities,” Wahab said.
Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) organised the World Islamic Scholars meeting, a gathering held last month that drew 100 scholars from 32 nations to Istanbul. Diyanet Deputy Chairman Mehmet Emin Ozafsar said the event and the continued endeavours that scholars agreed to pursue are “specifically aimed to end conflicts between different sects and to explain that fighting between different religious communities is meaningless.”
Participants in the meeting announced plans for form a 10-person group to conduct talks with governments, parliaments and non-governmental organisations in countries where conflicts are occurring. The group will appeal for non-violence and moderation and provide suggestions to build peace.
Scholars agreed to study how extremist organisations like ISIL emerged in order to prevent them from spreading their influences. They also pledged to explain true Islamic principles and how they can help bring about peace and tranquillity.
In a statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting, the scholars said, “all believers are brothers and sisters. No pretext can validate Muslims causing damage to each other, no Muslim can offer any ethnic, political or sectarian pretext to justify such actions.”
“Creating chaos in the society, creating turmoil, mass killings, bombing mosques and committing massacres are called terrorism,” the scholars said. “Terrorism cannot be accepted as jihad. Terrorism cannot be accepted as a method in jihad in Islam and cannot be applied as such.”