By Robert Fulford
It offends many Muslims that their religion is connected automatically to the terrorism and cold-blooded massacres that are currently creating chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya. They believe that terms like “Islamic terrorism,” “Jihadism” and “Islamo-fascism” carry an unfair implication that all Muslims are likely to support such crimes.
“Stop saying these words, they hurt,” a Toronto imam, Hamid Slimi, urged the federal government at a recent conference. He’s the former chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams, currently at work on a global campaign, Muslim Messengers of Peace.
Everyone can sympathize with law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims when they feel accused by implication of atrocities committed far away by people with whom they have no real connection except their religion. But the connection is not as distant as they might like to think.
Recently ISIS has brought further disgrace on itself by adding vandalism to its atrocities. In Mosul, Iraq, its followers burned 8,000 books they found in libraries. “These books promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah,” according to one ISIS soldier on the scene. “So they will be burned.”
ISIS believes in exhibiting evidence of its ability to obey passages in the Koran literally and thus purify the world. Piles of books were burned in the streets, proving to everyone the spiritually powerful work ISIS does. And Islamic State soldiers used an electric drill to attack a major archaeological site, the huge sculpture of a mythical beast at the Nergal Gate at Nineveh. Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the Iraq parliament’s security committee, said that ISIS “considers culture, civilization and science as their fierce enemies.”
How did they arrive at that belief? Their leaders are not, we should understand, crazed psychopaths. Nor has anyone the right to say (as Barack Obama did) that they are not Islamic.
“What ISIS Really Wants,” by Graeme Wood, a richly informative article in the currentAtlantic, describes ISIS theorists as articulate Islamic scholars with carefully considered beliefs, one of which is that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is a new caliph ruling over a new caliphate.
Interviewing several of them, Wood found that these believers are learned human beings, curious and intellectually alive. A conversation with them about their ideas felt like a graduate seminar, he reported. Rather to his horror, he was tempted to like them.
What would make such people turn against the civilization they studied in universities? Their version of Islam is clearly extreme but it is Islam nevertheless. No matter how much Muslims despise it, ISIS has grown out of their religion….