In his recent address, President Obama makes it clear that the US will strike ISIS or ISIL or the Islamic State and demolish them. He added that ISIL is not Muslim. Is he right? Is the Islamic State really non-Islamic?
You will probably notice that the only people who declare ISIS to be non-Muslim are non-Muslims themselves. I have yet to see a single Muslim group or council that declares the members of ISIL or ISIS to be non-Muslim. That is something that has puzzled me for a long time. For example, why are suicide bombers and Muslim terrorists NEVER ex-communicated? I've been told that there is no ex-communication in Islam but that's not true. We know how Muslims in Egypt have tried repeatedly to get Nawal El Saadawi excommunicated and her crime was merely the writing of a book on women's rights. Why then is there NEVER a single attempt by moderate Muslims to excommunicate Muslim terrorists, members of ISIS or Osama bin Laden when he was still alive? This reluctance or even refusal to excommunicate terrorists is one thing. But you will recall that when Osama was announced to have died, many moderate Muslims were anxious if he had been given proper Muslim rites in the disposal of his body.
For a long time, I could not understand why moderate Muslims behaved in this manner. After all, I can imagine if a Christian were to commit even a fraction of the carnage that Osama bin Laden had inflicted on the human race, not only would churches renounce him as a non-Christian and instantly excommunicate him and have nothing to do with him, it would be very hard to find a single church that would be wiling to conduct his funeral upon his death.
I decided to do a little research of my own. I went into Muslim websites and Muslim forums (the non-radical ones) just to understand a little about the Muslim mindset.
You see, as long as a Muslim recites the Shahada and maintains himself to be a Muslim, no other Muslim is permitted to question the validity of his faith. Another Muslim may not agree with his actions but he must still treat the person he disagrees with as a fellow Muslim brother or sister and accord him or her the full privileges of a Muslim. Osama bin Laden killed thousands of people in his lifetime. Muslims may be quick to point out that the Quran abhors the killing of innocent people. To kill an innocent person is akin to killing the whole of humanity, they are quick to quote from one of their holy books. Yes, Osama might have been guilty of countless murders but there is no doubt in anyone's mind that Osama recited the Shahada (probably more faithfully than most moderate Muslims I would imagine) and of course he regarded himself as a faithful Muslim. That made Osama a Muslim in the eyes of the entire Muslim world (moderates included) till his very death.
The same can be said of every member of ISIS and every Muslim terrorist. Nawal El Saadawi is different. Because of her progressive writings especially on women's rights, it's easy for radical Muslims to suspect that perhaps she has given up her religious beliefs. But Saadawi in fact countered the accusations of her detractors and her excommunication was overturned.
Takfir or the act of declaring a Muslim to be a kafir or a non-Muslim is a very serious matter. If it's incorrect, it's considered a major haram and is akin to blasphemy. As long as someone continues to recite the Shahada and declares himself a Muslim, he is a Muslim and that's that.
Let's now turn our attention back to ISIS and President Obama's statement that they aren't Muslim. ISIS members probably recite the Shahada more than the average Muslim. The Shahada is written on their black flags and the Shahada is recited every time they cut off the heads of their victims in the videos that I could not get myself to sit through. There is no question that they recite the Shahada.
So while President Obama and other non-Muslims may be quick to declare the members of ISIS to be non-Muslims, Muslims on the other hand are understandably silent. They may condemn the actions of ISIS as wrong and sinful but you will never catch them declaring the members of ISIS to be non-Muslims. And if ISIS members die, the wider Muslim community would expect that their bodies be given Muslim rites. As long as they continue to recite the Shahada and ISIS members do recite it ever so often and even while they are committing the most heinous atrocitites, they are brothers and sisters in the Muslim faith to the wider Muslim community which includes the moderates.
President Obama would do well to find out more about Islam before making hasty pronouncements that the Muslim world does not accept.