Any person making the ill-fated and grossly misguided decision to leave the security of their families and homeland to join IS, ISIL or Da’esh, thinking that they will find the honour of being a jihadi or a bride of, has sadly not grasped even a basic understanding of Islam or of the forces that govern the world we live in.
To attain martyrdom in the defence and protection of one’s faith is a well-practiced idea in faith. The concept is not a new one. If the idea is old and has been executed over many centuries, then why is there such abhorrence at the thought of young men and women wanting to sacrifice their lives for the defence, protection and preservation of their faith?
The simple answer that is beguilingly missed by this group of youth, is that the cause and context are both missing. The cause is not defence and protection of Islam. IS are not Islamic. IS do not adhere to the basic principles and teachings of Islam and have been widely condemned by Islamic Scholars of all sectarian bias. Islam does not allow for barbaric slaughter or for senseless beheading; one would associate such actions with great ignorance. The Prophet Mohammed (saw) came with the message and light of Islam to bring an end to tribal warfare at a time when people would wage war for years on end for very trivial matters. Thus, it is counter- intuitive and against the way of Islam to try and establish an Islamic state by killing people, most bizarrely Muslims and spreading fear.
If the objective of IS was to establish a truly Islamic state, death and destruction and indiscriminate killing of innocent people would surely not be the way to go about it. If the objective was to resurrect the Caliphate then surely, any ideological war would be fought and won by showcasing the beauty of Islam by way of adherence and promotions of Islamic principles and values as did the legitimate Caliphs of Islam. If IS wanted to sincerely reclaim the glory once enjoyed by Muslims, IS would rule and act with justice, demonstrate kindness, take care of the weak, the vulnerable and the wayfarer. IS would allow people the freedom to practice their religions without fear of prejudice and harm by the renewal and reinforcement of safeguarding treaties and covenants that were extended to people of faith by our noble and beloved prophet.
Hearts and minds are won by goodness and kindness and not won by bloodshed and oppression created by fear.
In any decision we take we must think through what we are doing, why we want to do something and what we hope to achieve. Young people need to apply this same approach to logically dissect the underlying motives and objectives of IS. The sad truth is that IS are not going to reclaim the glory of Islam. The mask unveiled, they are no different to any other group of people who hijack the name of a religion to provide cover and justification to meet their political and economic ends; they are not the first or last to do so. IS are not fighting for the cause of Islam. Like any other criminal or terrorist group, they are driven by a delirious lust for power, position and control, further fuelled by greed for land and money.
‘There are some who say: ‘We believe in Allah and in the Last Day,’ while in fact they do not believe. They are trying to deceive Allah and those who believe, but they do not realise that in truth they are only deceiving themselves. There is a disease (of hypocrisy) in their hearts and Allah has intensified this disease. A painful chastisement awaits them for their lying. Whenever they are told: do not spread mischief on earth,’ they say: ‘Why! We indeed are the ones who set things right.’ They are the mischief makers, but they do not realise it.’
Surah Al- Baqarah Chapter 2 Verses 8-12
Life is a precious commodity and to attain a level of faith whereby one would be prepared to sacrifice one’s life for one’s faith is noble and lofty. One would shy to condescend one who has reached such rank in faith, however, such ascension is only gained after many years of sustained effort; seldom would circumstances arise to warrant such sacrifice.
Young people who think they are sacrificing their lives for the sake of Islam by joining IS are severely misguided and have demonstrated grave lack of judgement. There is nothing but damnation for anyone fooled by the thought that as an IS Jihadi, they will gain martyrdom and earn favour with God.
The purpose and meaning of Jihad is not fulfilled or brought to fruition by going to Syria and joining IS.
Jihad is a word with great depth and breadth of meaning. In general, it means to struggle. This struggle is encountered in many, if not all facets of our lives, throughout our lives. This struggle is first and foremost with our own selves. We must struggle with our own selves for self-reformation in order to become ambassadors for the change we want to see in the world.
At the height of the Islamic civilisation, Muslims were the beacons of society, the innovators and progressors of Science and Philosophy. This was done by intellectual fervour. The advantage was gained intellectually not by brutality. Muslims advanced Islam by being intellectually, morally and culturally superior.
The exact opposite of what IS has demonstrated in its being.
The young of a nation are its future and much hope lies in their future being. This makes the loss of bright, intelligent British Muslim all the harder to bear. It is the current generation of Muslim youth, afforded the opportunities to thrive as both British citizens and Muslims that, through the positive and practical demonstration of their faith, can confidently reconcile both their cultural and religious identities without compromise to either.
Young Muslims who feel the need to fashion themselves as Jihadis or Jihadi brides have been systematically let down. Each of us, parents, Muslims, leaders of the Islamic community and the State need to take collectively responsibility for our failings and work together to educate and protect our youth against the poisonous ideology of IS.
By Ustadha Naima Ali Khan
Al Lahun al-Qur’an
Contributing Editor – Imams Online
4 Jumada AL-Ula 1436 / 23nd February 2015