By Dr Qari Asim, MBE
Senior Imam – Makkah Masjid, Leeds
The horrific and barbaric act of burning the Jordanian pilot, Muadh al-Kasasbeh, by ISIL (the so-called “Islamic state” of Iraq and Levant) has outraged the whole world. In this critical hour of grief, we stand united with the people of Jordan.
The burning of a Muslim alive was utterly shocking because the use of immolation is almost unheard of throughout Islamic history and in the modern Middle East. Any brutal tyrant regime in the Middle East that may have used such abhorrent terror tactics has received universal condemnation.
The use of immolation is against the teachings of Islam and in no way justified. ISIL have released numerous videos showing acts of barbarity including beheadings and mass shootings.The perpetrators should be brought to justice for such unIslamic, inhumane and abhorrent crimes.
In Islam it is forbidden to burn a human being, whether dead or alive. Human beings are the crown of God’s creation. Allah, Majestic, says: “Truly We have honoured human beings” (Al-Isra’ 17: 70). Burning a human being shows an absolute disregard to the honour bestowed upon a human being by the Lord.
There is much Prophetic guidance against taking revenge through burning a human being. In one of his hadiths, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No one is entitled to punish with fire except the Creator of the fire”. (Abu Dawud, No. 2673).
Torture, which constitutes another cruel method, is also strictly prohibited in Islam, when it is purely used for revenge. The Prophet of Islam is reported to have said, “God will torture those who torture people on this earth.” [Muslim]
Islamic law considers the unjust killing of a single person as horrible and punishable. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “A believer remains within the scope of his religion as long as he doesn’t kill another person illegally.” Further, another hadith states: “The faithful is he in whom people place their confidence about their property and life’. (Tirmidhi) –
The most potent tool in the Islamic State’s arsenal has been its willingness to push the boundaries of barbarity. ISIS or IS neither speak for Islam nor their poisonous ideology is shared by Muslims across the globe. It is also noteworthy that Muslims throughout the world have condemned each and every act of violence perpetrated by ISIL. Muslims do not recognize the so-called “Islamic state” because of its un-Islamic, illegal and immoral practices and have been very vocal in distancing themselves from the evil acts of ISIL
In the last few months, we have witnessed horrific and barbaric acts of murder and persecution by IS. It is disgusting to note that perpetrators of such abhorrent acts are claiming to be murdering people in the name of a religion. There is no room for any argument or suggestion that this type of burning alive or callous, cold murder of a human is in any way justified in the teachings of Islam.
ISIL want to create fear in the hearts of people. The use of immolation introduces a fresh form of terror. The heinous crimes of ISIL must not be allowed to bring disrepute to Islam and Muslims.
Governments in the Middle East and the West must formulate an intelligent, robust and sustainable strategy to deal with the sophisticated social media terror campaign that is being run by IS to create fear in hearts of people and to recruit young impressionable individuals.
Muslim scholars, in particular British Imams, have declared an intellectual, ideological and spiritual war against fanaticism, extremism and terrorism. It is high time for those who believe in peace to stand up against violence and tackle the causes, strategy, methodology and the outcome of extremism and terrorism.
The fact that video showing a Jordanian being burnt alive has been released in the first week of February is significant. It is pertinent to remind ourselves of Jordan’s efforts in bringing communities together and procuring that the first week of February is observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week. The World Interfaith Harmony Week revolves around two commandments: ‘Love of the God, and Love of the Neighbour’. The World Interfaith Harmony Week initiative provides a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provides a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities.
As we observe the Interfaith Harmony Week, British Muslims stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Muadh al-Kasasbeh and call on everyone not to let acts of hatred or terrorism divide our communities.