SHAFAQNA -Â More than 1,000 Muslim leaders in India have endorsed a religious ruling, or fatwa, condemning the Islamic State militant group as antithetical to the teachings of Islam and inhumane. Religious leaders in the country have expressed concern over the spread of slick extremist propaganda online, theÂ Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Indiaâ€™sÂ Ministry of Home AffairsÂ knows of just 17 Indians who have joined the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. That figure is considerably lowerÂ than theÂ number of recruits from many European and Middle Eastern countries. An additional 30 Indian Muslims have been stopped by authorities from traveling to Syria to join the radical militant group.
â€œIt is a strong message that we, as a large and influential community of Muslims, reject this kind of torture, killings, violence,â€ Abdur Rahman Anjaria,Â a Muslim community leader in Mumbai, told the Wall Street Journal.
India is home to more than 170 million Muslims, putting the country in second place in the world in terms ofÂ Muslim demographics. Muslims make up about 14 percent of Indiaâ€™s largely Hindu population. Indian Islam has long been considered moderate and at odds with the radical interpretation of religion endorsed by groups that includeÂ al Qaeda and ISIS.
â€œRepeated statements of this kind help to keep Muslims out of the sphere of radicalization,â€ Ajai Sahni, executive director of New Delhiâ€™s Institute for Conflict Management, told the Wall Street Journal. â€œThey create an atmosphere and culture and interpretation of Islam that opposes violent jihad.â€
The religious pronouncement was issued by theÂ Mumbai-based Islamic juristÂ Manzar Hasan KhanÂ Ashrafi Misbahi and signed by Muslim Indian leaders across sects.
ISIS, which grew in strength amid the instability wrought byÂ war in Syria, has taken over large swaths ofÂ territory in both Syria and Iraq. The group has promulgated a narrow, puritanical interpretation of Islam that has been widely condemned by Muslims worldwideÂ and has been considered too violent even for al Qaeda. In areas under ISIS control, courts frequently hand down harsh penalties that includeÂ beheadings, lashings and stonings.
The interpretation of Islam endorsed by ISIS has generally been consideredÂ out of touch with local Syrian religious tradition, which is steeped in a more pluralistic, Sufi understanding of Islam. The group draws many of its recruits from other regions, including Saudi Arabia,Â North Africa and Europe.
Shortly after ISIS began making headlines last year, more than 100 of the worldâ€™s top Muslim scholars signed anÂ open letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph, providing reasons why they deemed the group un-Islamic. This week, Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, a prominent Muslim scholar who gained a reputation as one of the mostÂ outspoken critics of the Syrian regime early on during the popular SyrianÂ uprising, publishedÂ a book from exile in the United KingdomÂ with aÂ rebuttal of ISISâ€™Â ideology.