The Islamic State (IS) extremists are on a gruesome killing spree. The video of the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley, 40, disseminated worldwide, is only the latest reminder that, unless nipped in the bud, IS will kill and maim anyone crossing its path as it attempts to enforce its nihilistic ideology in large swaths of Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, and elsewhere.
As President Obama rightly observed of the IS, “They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion.”
Religious minorities targeted by IS includes the Yazidis, practitioners of perhaps the oldest religion of the world. These peace-loving but vulnerable people whose ancestry goes back 6,000 years are now facing literal extermination through the satanic cruelties of IS fanatics.
People of conscience everywhere, particularly Muslims, must rise to stop the IS.
Why particularly Muslims?
Because the IS consists of so-called Muslims who have vowed to establish a blood-drenched Caliphate in which only their distorted version of Islam - a fusion of misogyny, intolerance and mayhem – will hold sway. We have an obligation to snatch our faith from the clutches of fanatics.
It is no use trying to reason with these killers with verses from the Quran, that there is no compulsion in religion, or that Allah loves those who are merciful.
Scholarly arguments have no sanctity with killers.
But it is also impractical to suggest that ordinary Muslims should travel to IS-held territories to fight the fanatics, although it has become evident that would-be jihadists from Britain, France, Germany, Australia and America have strengthened the rank and file of IS forces.
To defeat this lethal organization will require the organized military forces of nations. The United States has started bombing areas around Mosul in Iraq and other IS strongholds. Muslims nations must leave politics aside and unite to support the United States in whatever capacity they can.
Meanwhile, ordinary Muslims everywhere must unequivocally condemn the IS and its practices. In mosques from coast to coast in America, for instance, we must use the platform of the Friday sermons to take a stand against the IS. The black banner of the IS and all the cruelties it represents must be torn down before it has a chance to flutter in the wind.
At the same time, a few western pundits claim that (in the word of just one of them) “Muslim street from Turkey to Saudi Arabia follows the Islamic State like a sports team.”
Really? (As an American-Muslim, I request these opinionators to provide us with hard data, along with defining exactly what is meant by "Muslim Street!")
These pundits surely know how hard the clergy in Saudi Arabia, for instance, came down on the Islamic State. Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik, top cleric of the Kingdom, has said that extremism and ideologies of groups like the IS and al-Qaida are Islam’s number one enemy and that Muslims have been their first victims. He went on to say that terrorism has no place in Islam, adding “These foreign groups do not belong to Islam.”
Saudi Arabia is, of course, no model of Islamic restraint and moderation. But that is not the point. Where the Islamic State is concerned, Muslims of all nationalities and origins must unite to stop the murderous advances of this organization.
One area where ordinary Muslims can counter the Islamic State is Social Media. Within the Islamic State exists a section that is savvy with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and such. We too can post our thoughts and opinions in these media to unequivocally condemn the group. The battle is fought on the ground and in the air but also, and equally importantly, in the cyber world, which is open to all.
We must not give in to wishful thinking. The Islamic State will not fold at the first hint of defeat. It is led by one Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who has the audacity and the arrogance to claim Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) lineage. He and his battle-hardened deputies will attempt to continue their reign of terror overtly and covertly for as long as they can.
But their defeat will be permanent when, along with unbearable losses on the physical battlefields, they also realize that Muslims have rejected them by countering their barbaric propaganda on the digital battlefield with the truth.