Since ISIS emerged on the scene last year, Muslims worldwide have been bombarded with the claim that this terrorist group represents an interpretation of Islam “as legitimate as any.”
Therefore, the argument goes, it is proof that Islam is inherently violent and we must do anything and everything to stop Islam from spreading. Some extremist politicians like Geert Wilders want to ban the Qur’an altogether. Some extremist anti-theists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali want to militarily crush all Islam. Some extremist new atheists like Sam Harris argue in defense of horrific torture and pre-emptive nuclear strike on Muslim majority nations. Then there are also Islamophobic politicians like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Molly White of Texas who perpetuate “no go zone” myths and promote “anti-Shariah” laws, respectively. Unfortunately demonizing Islam is big business nowadays.
Anti-Islam extremists also claim that while the Qur’an contains some peaceful verses revealed in Mecca, they are abrogated by the allegedly violent verses revealed later in Medina — thus making Islam inherently violent. The two groups that believe this to be true are — ironically — ISIS terrorists and anti-Islam extremists.
Islam is defined first by the whole Qur’an, then by the Sunnah (or actions of Prophet Muhammad), and finally by the ahadith (or sayings of Prophet Muhammad) — in that order. Prophet Muhammad himself commanded Muslims to maintain the Qur’an as the primary and final authority on all things Islamic.
And while the Sunnah and ahadith do not validate any act of ISIS, the above rule is critical. Terrorists and anti-Islam extremists often twist ahadith in an attempt to validate ISIS while shamelessly ignoring the Qur’an and the aforementioned rule of Islamic jurisprudence.
Compare the actions of ISIS to the Qur’an, and it becomes clear ISIS cannot possibly represent any form of Islam taught by the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad. The following three verses of the Qur’an alone demonstrate this fact.
1. Qur’an 22:40: “Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged.”
This verse, revealed in Medina, is the very first time the Qur’an ever addressed fighting. And the very first thing God declares is that fighting is permitted only for those against whom war is made. This requires no deep interpretation or verbal gymnastics. Pre-emptive war is categorically un-Islamic.
Meanwhile, ISIS continues to wage pre-emptive war by conquering sovereign lands and killing journalists, non-combatants, civilians, and doctors. These are all acts specifically forbidden by Islam’s detailed rules of war.
But what does it mean to “have been wronged” and therefore given permission to fight in self-defense? Lest some twisted minds think they get to decide what it means to “have been wronged,” the Qur’an’s very next verse defines exactly that.
2. Qur’an 22:41: “Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is God’ — And if God did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft commemorated.”
Thus, the Qur’an defines “have been wronged,” as a person who has met two more conditions. The first: one who has been unjustly driven from his own home. The second: being driven out on account of faith.
This verse was also revealed in Medina. In Mecca the Muslims sought permission to fight back and defend themselves from attack and persecution. Prophet Muhammad’s reply was simple and unwavering, “I have not been given permission to fight. I have been admonished to remain patient.”
History records this. Despite facing brutal persecution, economic and social boycott to the point of starvation, and murder — all on account of their faith — the Muslims never raised a finger in Mecca. Instead, they first waited in patience and were unjustly driven out to Medina by the violent Meccans.
ISIS has unjustly driven out thousands of innocent Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis on account of their faith — acts that align them with the violent Meccans.
The latter part of this verse imposes a fourth condition before granting permission to fight in self-defense — that is, Muslims must fight to protect universal freedom of conscience. Otherwise, war is un-Islamic. Every subsequent Qur’anic verse on “combatting disbelievers” is read in light of the above criteria — fighting without having met those violates the Qur’an.
ISIS terrorists have not fulfilled a single one of these criteria. Thus, ISIS’s every act contradicts Islam.
3. Qur’an 2:257: “There shall be no compulsion in religion.”
God revealed this verse near the end of Prophet Muhammad’s ministry, in Medina, after he peacefully retook Mecca and became the de facto ruler of all of Arabia. At a time when Prophet Muhammad could have forced anyone to become Muslim or suffer the sword, he did exactly the opposite.
The Qur’an categorically condemns any form of religious compulsion and ensures universal freedom of conscience remains free for people of all faiths and no faith. In fact, the verse following 2:257 further clarifies that those who still reject God can only be punished by God — no human being has that right.
ISIS, meanwhile, uses weapons to force people to submit to its beliefs. This is in total contradiction to Islam and Prophet Muhammad. But none of this is new. His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam Mirza Masroor Ahmad has loudly declared multiple times, “The actions and statements of ISIS and other extremists who pretend to represent Islam, whilst all the while spreading hatred and violence, run entirely contrary to the peaceful teachings of Islam.”
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Already ISIS terrorists murder more Muslims than they do anyone else. Additionally, as a result of ignorant bigots like Wilders, Hirsi Ali, Harris, Jindal, and White — who promote the barbaric claim that ISIS represents Islam — violence and fear against Muslims in the West increases. This is not a question of faith. I’m not deciding whether ISIS terrorists are “true Muslims” or not. Rather, I’m demonstrating how Islam categorically rejects their acts. The fact is that ISIS’s acts have nothing to do with Islam.
It is time anti-Islam bigots stop ignoring common sense and join Muslims to make the world a more peaceful, compassionate, and educated place.
The opinions in this piece belong to the author.
Image courtesy of Menendj.