SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-Over a hundred Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world have issued a joint letter addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the leader of the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) terrorist group – on Wednesday, presenting Islamic arguments against the group’s actions in Iraq and Syria.
Calling the ISIL terrorist’s interpretation of Islam illegitimate and perverse, the letter – issued in Arabic and English – slams their use of torture, slavery, forced conversions, the denial of rights for women and children, and the killing of innocents as tactics in war.
Additionally, the letter questions Baghdadi’s right to declare himself as ‘Caliph,’ the leader of Muslims all over the world, and denounces his leadership as illegitimate saying:
“Who gave you authority over the Ummah [Muslim nation]?” the letter asks.
“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. This attitude is based upon a corrupt circular logic that says: ‘Only we are Muslims, and we decide who the caliph is, we have chosen one and so whoever does not accept our caliph is not a Muslim.'”
“You have killed many innocents who were neither combatants nor armed, just because they disagree with your opinion,” the letter read.
“There is no such thing as offensive, aggressive jihad just because people have different religions or opinions,” it added.
The letter called the murder of prisoners “heinous war crimes,” specifically mentioning the killing of 1700 captives at Camp Speicher in Tikrit in June, 200 captives at the Sha’er gas field in July, 700 captives of the Sha’etat tribe in Deir Ezzor (600 of whom were unarmed civilians) and 250 captives at the Tabqah air base in Al-Raqqah in August, as well as Kurdish and Lebanese soldiers.
Regarding the ISIL’s understanding and use of Islamic texts, the letter stated, “It is not permissible to quote a verse, or part of a verse, without thoroughly considering and comprehending everything that the Qur’an and Hadith relate about that point…It is imperative to reconcile all texts, as much as possible.”
Scholars and leaders behind the letter also condemned the killing of journalists like Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid workers such as British citizen David Haines, saying it is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries.
The letter went on to slam the ISIL over claims that they have been deliberately killing children. “In your schools some children are tortured and coerced into doing your bidding and others are being executed…These are crimes against innocents who are so young they are not even morally accountable”.
“For over a century, Muslims, and indeed the entire world, have been united in the prohibition and criminalization of slavery…After a century of Muslim consensus on the prohibition of slavery, you have violated this; you have taken women as concubines and thus revived strife and sedition (fitnah), and corruption and lewdness on the earth. You have resuscitated something that the Shari’ah has worked tireless to undo,” the Muslim scholars’ letter concluded.