One of the most urgent challenges

Press declaration: The European Muslims are condemning in unison crimes and ideology of the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq

Without any doubt, one of the most urgent challenges for the Muslim world today is the crimes and the ideology of the group called Islamic State (IS). While the local population – which is directly affected by the deeds of a self-proclaimed “caliphate” – suffers the most, Muslims in Europe are greatly concerned and impacted upon by its deeds and words.

Firstly, young men in several European countries have been drawn to join the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. In the past weeks, there have been reports about security measures taken against some Muslim groups in the Balkans – held responsible for sending young men to the Levant. Secondly, there is concern about an evident radicalization of some young Muslims in their own ranks. And, thirdly, the gruesome actions of the Islamic State (IS) are leading to an increase of virulent hate against European Muslims.

It is therefore fitting to refer here to a statement by EMU president, Abu Bakr Rieger, about terrorism. “Muslims ask themselves if the present-day terrorism is discrediting Islam. The answer is no. Terrorism may discredit certain Muslims, but not Islam which neither justifies terrorism or suicidal attacks.” There might well exist, wrote Rieger, a “terrorism committed by a Muslim” but no “Islamic terrorism.”

It is necessary to state again – and even to document – that in the face of these criminal gangs and their behavior – there is a global, unified rejection of the IS which transcends any differences in the traditional teachings and schools of thought.

Muslim scholars and leaders worldwide have condemned the movement, rejected its claim to leadership and deconstructed their flawed teaching and methodology. This has been done by internationally known scholars in the Muslim world but also by those living in the Western world.

The English born Imam and scholar Shaykh Habib Bewley recently published an extensive khutba which dealt with the issue of the Islamic State. “For rather than being a modern day manifestation of true khilafate and the correct form of Islamic governance, they are in reality a manifestation of one of the most divisive and destructive groups that ever appeared in Muslim history – the khawarij,” wrote Bewley about the historic roots of the movement.

“This word ‘khawarij’ is an Arabic word meaning “those who have gone out,” and was originally used to describe a group who left the main body of the Muslims and adopted an extreme and deviated position during the time of the Khilafate of Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib.”

“Takfir is one of their defining characteristics, as is intractability, for they do not consider right to lie with anyone but themselves, not even with the Messenger of Allah himself.

“Any group who adopts their ideology,” so one of his conclusions, “can never be considered a khilafate, for their very ethos is its antithesis, being a rejection of jama’a and a rejection of the rest of the Muslim umma. We ask Allah to unite the Muslim umma and protect us from any and all who pose a threat to our wellbeing and togetherness. […] There is nothing Islamic about their state, and their barbaric behaviour runs contrary to all of the precepts and parameters of the deen.”

In Britain, a group of Muslim scholars published a fatwa against the “so-called ‘Islamic State’ or self-styled ‘Caliphate’”. They denounced it as an “oppressive and tyrannical group.” Its persecution and massacres of members of other religions “is abhorrent and opposed to Islamic teachings and the Islamic tolerance displayed by great empires such as the Mughals and Ottomans.”

“Based on all of the above,” so the scholarly opinion, “It is a heretical, extremist organization and it is religiously prohibited (haram) to support or join it; furthermore, it is an obligation on British Muslims to actively oppose its poisonous ideology, especially when it is promoted within Britain.”

The European Muslim Union shares the concern of the European governments of a return of the brutalized, so-called “fighters” to their respective countries of origin and the potential damage they might create there.

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