“Zaid Al Fares is a photojournalist who moved from Raqqa, his home city, to Turkey following the Isis takeover.” Here he retails more deceptions and detours to try to claim that what the Islamic State is doing has nothing to do with Islam. Why does it matter whether or not what the Islamic State is doing is in accord with Islamic texts and teachings? Among other reasons, because it will help determine how much support the new caliphate will ultimately get from Muslims worldwide, and will serve as an indicator of how much we can expect to see the actions of the Islamic State replicated by other Muslims elsewhere. The blizzard of articles and statements from Muslims and non-Muslims assuring us that what the Islamic State is doing has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam are designed to reassure non-Muslims in the West that they need not have any concerns about massive rates of Muslim immigration and the Muslims already living among them: “Not to worry, folks, your friend Ahmad down at the office will never start acting like those nuts in the Islamic State.” One problem with this is that it prevents authorities from calling upon Muslim communities to teach against the doctrines that the Islamic State acts upon, and to work for genuine reform. And so the door remains open to the possibility that the actions of the Islamic State could be repeated in Western countries.
“Frontline Isis: There is Nothing in Islam to Justify Islamic State Beheadings,” by Zaid Al Fares, IB Times, August 26, 2014:
Whenever the Islamic State, or IS, makes a statement, it claims to be fulfilling the work of god and striving for some kind of religious utopia, free of vice and sin. The militants claim they are messengers of Allah, even when they are beheading people and posting videos on the internet.
Yet, as a Muslim, I reject this out of hand. There is nothing in our religion which condones or encourages the vicious treatment meted out to James Foley and the dozens of other people who have been beheaded and then used as public trophies in IS’s battle for control of Syria and Iraq.
“When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks…” — Qur’an 47:4
“Remember when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.” — Qur’an 8:12
“Then they [the Jewish Qurayzah tribe] surrendered, and the apostle [Muhammad] confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. Al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka’b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.” — Ibn Ishaq 690
Even if there were anything in our religious teachings to justify chopping off an opponent’s head, that particular edict would be patently anachronistic today. At the time of the Prophet, fighting was done with swords and spears, while today’s battles employ the latest weapons. There is no way you can reasonably apply ancient standards of warfare to the reality of conflict today.
A strange argument. Muslims consider the Qur’an to be the perfect word of Allah, applicable to all times and places. So if the Qur’an says to behead unbelievers, it doesn’t matter that there is better technology for battles today. Jihadists consider this is a sacred edict, not a point of battleground efficiency.
Someone wishing to defend IS might point out that, in the Qur’an, it is written: “If you kill, kill well, and if you slaughter, slaughter well”. However the passage continues by instructing readers: “Let each of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” Thus it is clear that this passage is designed to apply to sheep and cows, rather than people.
This is quite disingenuous of Al Fares in light of the two Qur’anic verses about beheading people that I quoted above.
In reality, IS has no real interest in Islamic religious doctrine. The Prophet Mohammed said that in battle we should not torture the victim, yet the Islamic state clearly does that now. He also commanded us to treat prisoners of war well, but IS does not follow this dictum either. In fact they do exactly the opposite, unless, of course, the prisoner can help them in some way.
In reality, here is a detailed exposition of Islamic theology regarding beheading. Note the copious quotations from Islamic authorities, so conspicuously lacking from Al Fares’ piece. And as for torture, Muhammad oversaw the torture of Kinana of Khaybar, a Jew whom he thought was in charge of the treasury, when he invaded that oasis and massacred the Jews there. This is recorded by Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad’s earliest biographer. And as for treating prisoners well, Islamic law allows for them to be either freed outright, ransomed, enslaved or killed, depending on what is best for the Muslims. The Islamic State made its judgment in accord with those choices.
Members of other sects and religions, such as Christians, are ordered to pay a sum of money known as “jizya,” or forced to enter Islam. Or killed, of course. But this is contrary to Islamic law; the Islamic religion does not impose Islam on non-Muslims, but rather gives them freedom of choice. In the Qu’ran, Allah says clearly “there is no compulsion in religion”. Perhaps the IS founders skipped that bit when they were codifying their creed.
Al Fares is here apparently depending on the ignorance of his readers, for he is here claiming that a Qur’anic command is in violation of Islamic law. For the collection of the jizya from the “People of the Book” is mandated in the Qur’an, and has never been considered by Islamic authorities to be a violation of the “no compulsion in religion” verse: ““Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (Qur’an 9:29). There is “no compulsion” in that: non-Muslims aren’t forced to become Muslim; they’re just subjugated under Islamic hegemony.
In reality, the IS beheadings constitute a systematic attempt to deliver a clear message: that all who disagree will face the most barbaric of fates. This was clear when IS cut off the heads of more than 30 people from the 17th division of the Syrian regime, and displayed them in the most prominent part of Raqqa – on the roundabout al-Naaim or as residents call it “hell roundabout.” Predictably the heads sparked panic among the people of the city, and sent a chilling message to troops stationed at Brigade 93 and the Altabqa airport.
It was also apparent when IS chose to behead well-known activists, such as the young revolutionary Moataz Ibrahim. The militants wanted to send a message to all the activists, even those who are outside Raqqa city: anyone who wants freedom, or a civilized state, will meet this end.
Most notably, when IS beheaded the American journalist James Foley a few days ago, they sent a message to America that it will kill all the Americans resident in Iraq, no matter their background or involvement in the current conflict. There was no religious undertone, or overtone, to the slaughter.
IS might claim that it is acting in accordance with Islam and its slaughter is somehow a force for good. But the world should not be fooled; true Muslims completely reject these ludicrous claims, and our religion provides no basis for their cowardly massacres.
Indeed, the world should not be fooled by deceptive nonsense such as what Al Fares is peddling here. But it so very, very much wants to be fooled.