Hamas-linked CAIR’s Nihad Awad says that we must not call the Islamic State “the Islamic State.” This is because the Islamic State presents Hamas-linked CAIR with a massive problem: for years Awad and his sinister henchmen have been spreading smooth deceptions about Islam in the mainstream media, claiming that only greasy Islamophobes think that any Islamic texts or teachings sanction hatred, violence or supremacism. Then along comes a group calling itself the Islamic State and acting pretty much the way the greasy Islamophobes said that such an entity would act, in accord with Islamic law. So now Hamas-linked CAIR is desperately trying to de-Islamify the Islamic State. Not surprisingly, however, Awad does so here on false pretenses. More comments interspersed below.
“ISIS Is Not Just Un-Islamic, It Is Anti-Islamic,” by Nihad Awad, Time, September 5, 2014 (thanks to Ben):
Despite misappropriating and misusing the name “Islamic State,” ISIS is little more than a criminal gang that attaches itself like a leech to revered symbols of Islam. It exploits counterproductive Western policies driving desperate people into its fold and uses injustices in the Muslim world as a smokescreen to cover its own cruelty.
When ISIS uses the Islamic declaration of faith, the Shahada, and the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) seal on its flag, it quite literally – and falsely – claims to uphold the banner of Islam. When ISIS says it is establishing a “Caliphate,” an historic term that resonates with Muslims worldwide, it does so to fool those who have experienced nothing but injustice and oppression into believing past glories will be restored.
Unfortunately, the media, political analysts and public officials – really all of us – are unwilling participants in ISIS’s public relations branding campaign.
Every time we refer to ISIS as the “Islamic State,” call its members “jihadists” or in any way grant it the religious legitimacy that it so desperately seeks, we simultaneously boost its brand, tarnish the image of Islam and further marginalize the vast majority of Muslims who are disgusted by the group’s un-Islamic actions.
Step back for a moment and consider just how absurd this demand is. Imagine it’s 2008, and Obama and Hillary Clinton are vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. Imagine that an Obama operative demands that the mainstream media and general public stop referring to Hillary supporters as Democrats, saying that to call them Democrats tarnishes the image of the Democratic Party and marginalizes the vast majority of Democrats who are disgusted by her un-Democratic positions. What do you think the reaction would have been? Would anyone have taken this demand seriously?
Nor does Awad explain how this spectacularly odd situation arose — a group calling itself “the Islamic State” that is not only un-Islamic, but anti-Islamic, even as it professes to be the true embodiment of Islam. What would people think if I said that CAIR was actually not CAIR, and indeed, against CAIR, and that I was really CAIR’s Executive Director, and Jihad Watch was the true CAIR, and Nihad Awad and Ibrahim Hooper and co. were all just imposters and poseurs? People would wonder how such an odd turn of events came about, that a group bearing the name of an organization was not really that organization at all, but was against it. But Awad offers no explanation.
What’s more, Awad here is setting himself up as the pope of Islam, pronouncing takfir on the Islamic State and declaring them non-Muslim. The problem is that they could do the same thing to him. They claim that what they are doing is authentic Islam. So which claim to embody authentic Islam are we to believe — Awad’s or the Islamic State’s? The government and mainstream media, of course, have already opted for Awad’s version and pronounced takfir themselves on the Islamic State, but this choice is based on what they wish is true and hope is true, not on an evaluation of the Islamic texts and teachings in light of the assertions on both sides. And in any case, whatever choice they make will not influence the choice that Muslims worldwide will ultimately make. That will be based on the Islamic case each side makes. Awad makes his here:
Islam prohibits the extremism exhibited by ISIS. An essential part of the faith is moderation.
As the Quran, Islam’s foundational text, states clearly: “We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.” (Quran, 2:143)
Irrelevant. If the Islamic State is following Islamic law, as it believes itself to be doing, then it doesn’t believe itself to be in violation of this verse.
The Quran also states: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both.” (Quran, 4:35)
Here again, the Islamic State believes itself to be implementing Islamic law, which it identifies with justice. So this verse would not make a member of the Islamic State stop short and reconsider, either.
Literally, jihad means to struggle, strive and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression.
The Islamic State believes itself to be fighting against tyranny and oppression. So Awad still has not said anything that would make any supporter of it think he or she was on the wrong path.
While Islam allows legitimate self defense, it prohibits the killing of non-combatants, even in times of war or conflict. Aggression is never permitted. “And fight in the cause of God those who fight against you, and do not commit aggression. Indeed God does not love those who are aggressors,” (The Quran, 2:190).
The Qur’an also tells Muslims to fight the People of the Book until they “pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” (9:29); that verse doesn’t mention anything about fighting only those People of the Book who begin hostilities. So how does that verse fit in with 2:190? Is it really true in Islamic law that “aggression is never permitted”? Many Islamic authorities say no. In his eighth-century biography of Muhammad, Ibn Ishaq explains the contexts of various verses of the Qur’an by saying that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay the jizya. Mainstream Qur’an commentaries by Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that the ninth chapter of the Qur’an, which contains this command to fight the People of the Book, abrogates every peace treaty in the Qur’an. In the modern age, this idea of stages of development in the Qur’an’s teaching on jihad, culminating in offensive warfare to establish the hegemony of Islamic law, has been affirmed by Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb, Pakistani Islamic scholar and politician Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, the Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik (author of The Qur’anic Concept of War), Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid (in his Jihad in the Qur’an and Sunnah), and others. The terrorists of the Islamic State know all this, too, and are unlikely to be moved by Awad’s argument.
And as for the killing of non-combatants, jihadis who believe that it is perfectly acceptable for them to kill innocent non-combatants can point to this hadith: “It is reported on the authority of Sa’b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them.” (Sahih Muslim 4321) “They are from them” — i.e., the women and children of the polytheists are from the polytheists and can lawfully be killed.
Extremist Muslims who commit crimes like those carried out by ISIS should be called criminals. We must not legitimize their actions by calling them jihadists.
This is what the purpose of Awad’s piece really is: to intimidate people into prescinding from calling the Islamic State Islamic, so as to preserve their deceptions about Islam, and preserve the complacency they have so carefully fostered among Americans about the jihad threat.
The American Muslim community and Muslim scholars around the world have repudiated and rejected ISIS’s twisted ideology, calling it not just un-Islamic, but “anti-Islamic.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the “Muslim U.N.,” said ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam,” and has committed crimes “that cannot be tolerated.”
Along with denying ISIS religious legitimacy and severing its links to revered Islamic symbols and terms, we can deny it a smokescreen for its injustices and stop driving suffering people into its arms by changing our own policies.
Ah, here’s Awad’s second purpose: to try to shore up support for the “moderate” Syrian jihadists — who are at this point not actually separable from the Islamic State that Awad is here ostensibly denouncing.
There would be no ISIS in Syria if we had fully supported the struggle for freedom in that nation since 2011. It was only the political vacuum created by our lack of support for the mainstream opposition to the brutal Syrian regime, and the resulting slaughter of more than 200,000 people and the displacement of millions more, which gave ISIS space to form and grow.
We need to support the mainstream Syrian political and military opposition seeking freedom and democracy. A free and democratic Syria and region is the long-term guarantee for the defeat and marginalization of groups like ISIS.
We also need to support democracy and human rights in Iraq, Egypt, and throughout the region. The fanaticism and barbarism of ISIS and other terror groups is fueled by the brutal repression of dictatorships that are sadly often supported by the United States. Religious fanaticism and political oppression are mirror images of each other and lead to the same bloody results.
For Awad, “democracy and human rights” means the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia.
ISIS was only able to penetrate Iraq because we for too long backed a government that completely marginalized the Sunni Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities. Iraqis who faced being shot at a government checkpoint for being a member of the “wrong” sect found out too late that ISIS was a worse alternative.
I.e., ditch the Shi’ite regime in Baghdad and support the Syrian jihadis.
If we want to stop ISIS, we must deny it any claim to represent Islam and starve it of the fuel of injustice.
It is up to our political leaders to take the lead through a comprehensive international strategy, not in the number of bombs that can be dropped, but in the establishment of the freedom and justice that will spell the end for ISIS and its ilk.