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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: ISIS is Islamic in name only

The Islamic State is not an Islamic organization.

This idea gets a lot of pushback, not least because the word “Islamic” is in the name and because the Islamic State’s leaders attempt to justify their actions using Islamic teachings.

But those leaders are wrong. The Islamic State does not represent the Islamic religion any more than the pro-Nazi Christian Front, a Christian organization established in the U.S. in 1938 and eventually charged in federal court with treasonous activity, represents Christianity.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents 57 Muslim-majority countries, voted to condemn the acts of the Islamic State.

Imams from the U.K. spoke out against the Islamic State in July 2014, warning and urging people to not involve themselves after an estimated 500 Britons had emigrated to join the organization.

Even al-Qaida dislikes this group. According to BBC News, al-Qaida general command released an online statement in early February that disavowed the Islamic State and pronounced its disapproval of its actions.

So what makes the Islamic State so unjustifiable in the eyes of even the most extreme Muslims? Its lack of respect for the dignity and preservation of life.

The burning death of the Jordanian pilot triggered backlash, and al-Qaida stated that the event is “conclusive proof of ISIS’ deviance.”

Two imams were also shot, and four civilians were beheaded as a result of their public denunciation of the Islamic State’s “muslimness.”

For any person to kill their spiritual leaders or citizens is an act of tyranny to control a dejected population. The only method the Islamic State has to silence the truth — that the vast majority of Muslims believe it’s comprised of apostates, an extremely serious accusation in Islam — is to kill the truth-tellers.

“Islam gives a great deal of attention to the concept of preservation of life, honor, and wealth,” said Imam Al Azhari of the Islamic Center of Tucson. “None can be taken, ever, without clear, strong, irrefutable evidence within a reputable and fair justice system.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation explained its own opposition to the Islamic State in similar terms and stated that “such actions stand in stark contradiction to the tenets of Islam and any of the existing human rights or international law standards in dealing with prisoners.”

A recent article in the Atlantic by Graeme Wood quoted Princeton professor Bernard Haykel in refuting the idea the Islamic State is not an Islamic organization. Wood said Haykel “regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance.”

But if this is true, then the near 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, minus about 30,000 Islamic State fighters, have been hopelessly duped into wrongly practicing their religion for the past 1300 years.

In reality, Haykel’s argument is preposterous and, in some ways, Islamophobic and fundamentalist. It supposes that “real Islam” is violent, and it asserts that the only accurate way to follow a religion is to read the original texts literally without any intermediaries — meaning, for instance, any Christian who doesn’t believe in stoning adulterers is a bad Christian.

But literal interpretations of the Qur’an are impossible, unless one believes that God literally becomes the ear of a Muslim.

The task of defining religions by their texts, their intellectual traditions and their mystical practices is not an easy one, and, indeed, it gave rise to an entire department on the UA campus.

But someone doesn’t need a Ph.D. in religious studies to recognize that a small, violent fringe group does not define a religion’s true practice simply because they claim to do so — especially when the majority of the world’s Muslims say the Islamic State does not follow Islamic teachings.


Ashleigh Horowitz is a creative writing freshman. Follow her on Twitter.

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