It is a relief that ISIS leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, has met his death in a US military operation.
Al-Baghdadi has been the cause of thousands of deaths, mass migration of religious minorities, a trail of carnage in world and destruction of historical and religious sites.
An irony of modern day terrorism is that its violent attacks have killed more Muslims than people of any other faith, yet Muslims are still considered by some, as terrorists.
Although, there are many actors behind violence and destruction in Syria and Iraq, Daesh brought a unique form of daily terror to the territory and subjugated the civilians . Time and again the violent attacks led by Al-Baghdadi showed that although the terrorists may use religious rhetoric they neither follow Islam nor represent over 1.7 billion Muslims across the world.
The slick propaganda of ISIS continues to relentlessly prey upon young vulnerable individuals, with a propaganda peppered with misapplied Quran references and hadiths.
The death of Al-Baghdadi is a defining moment in the fight against terrorism. But terrorism will not be defeated by removing leaders of violent movements only. The ideology of Daesh / ISIS as well as other forms of extremist ideologies resonates with certain people for certain reasons, and they latch onto them and they use them to spread hatred and cause violence. The attraction of such ideologies – whether purportedly inspired by faith, race or nationalism- as well as the cycle of inspiration from such twisted ideologies must be broken.
The ideology that inspires ISIS or other such extremist needs to be defeated through a multi-layered approach. First cornerstone of that approach is confronting extremism in all its forms – irrespective of where we see it and whosoever may be behind it.
There are, of course, no easy answers for violence that is often enabled by hateful propaganda. From governments to security forces, populist leaders to religious leaders, traditional media platforms to social media companies- all need to play their part in not only condemning and preventing extremism but also providing meaningful opportunities to young people to be part of the process of re- building cohesive communities.
Article by Imam Qari Asim.