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Islam is under attack from the Islamic State. (By “Islam,” I mean the religion of Islam (i.e. precepts and practices identified with “Islam,”) and the contemporary Muslim world at large (who identify as mainstream Muslims worldwide).
Moderate Muslims, the world over, are alarmed. So are non-Muslim sympathizers. So am I. Time to speak out — as an independent scholar, as a person of heart and conscience, as one who recognizes the divine origin and mission of Islam, and simply as a empathizer who cries out to decry this moral outrage.
The acts of the Islamic State — beheading, summarily executing, kidnapping, raping, sexually enslaving through forced “marriages” (institutionalized rape), plundering, destroying religious shrines and edifices, usurping legitimate civil authority, recruiting and brainwashing children, and a host of other ills — should “shock the conscience” of decent people everywhere.
The actions of the Islamic State have already met with worldwide condemnation. One of the foremost and most effective responses is the “Open Letter to al-Baghdadi” (Islamic State’s leader), signed by 126 Islamic scholars and posted online at LetterToBaghdadi.com.
The “Open Letter to al-Baghdadi” closes with this fascinating tradition attributed to the fourth Caliph of Sunni Islam, Ali ibn Abi Talib, who is reported to have said:
When you see the black flags, remain where you are and do not move your hands or your feet. Thereafter there shall appear a feeble insignificant folk. Their hearts will be like fragments of iron. They will have the state. They will fulfil neither covenant nor agreement. They will call to the truth, but they will not be people of the truth. Their names will be parental attributions, and their aliases will be derived from towns. Their hair will be free-flowing like that of women. This situation will remain until they differ among themselves. Thereafter, God will bring forth the Truth through whomever He wills. – Narrated by Nu’aym ibn Hammad in Kitab Al-Fitan, Hadith no. 573.
I just “endorsed” this letter, and then posted this comment on the Facebook page at:
This open letter is defensive ideological jihad, since Islam is under attack by the Islamic State. The opinions set forth are authoritative, well founded and grounded, and thoroughly documented. My only recommendation is that religious minorities, who are not “People of the Book” (such as the Baha’is), also be recognized as faith-communities who also merit protection. Other religions have a right to be “wrong,” after all. It is not right to wrong any religion, even if that religion is “wrong,” so long as that religion is not threatening the rights of others. Interfaith pluralism offers a good model for Islamic pluralism.
The Open Letter closes with this poignant admonition:
Furthermore, God revealed the Qur’an as a mercy from Him: ‘And We reveal of the Qur’an that which is a cure, and a mercy for believers …’ (Al-Isra’, 17:82). Islam is mercy and its attributes are merciful. The Prophet, who was sent as a mercy for all the worlds, summarized a Muslim’s dealings with others by saying: ‘He who shows no mercy, will not be shown mercy’; and: ‘Have mercy and you will be shown mercy.’ But, as can be seen from everything mentioned, you have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder. As elucidated, this is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world. Reconsider all your actions; desist from them; repent from them; cease harming others and return to the religion of mercy.
The Baha’i Writings enjoin Baha’is to defend Islam:
They [Baha’is] must strive to obtain, from sources that are authoritative and unbiased, a sound knowledge of the history and tenets of Islám—the source and background of their Faith—and approach reverently and with a mind purged from preconceived ideas the study of the Qur’án which, apart from the sacred scriptures of the Bábí and Bahá’í Revelations, constitutes the only Book which can be regarded as an absolutely authenticated Repository of the Word of God. They must devote special attention to the investigation of those institutions and circumstances that are directly connected with the origin and birth of their Faith, with the station claimed by its Forerunner, and with the laws revealed by its Author. — Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 25 December 1938 to the Bahá’ís of the West, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 49.
What is the Baha’i view of the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Islam. Let me quote Baha’u’llah directly:
Behold, how lofty is the station, and how consummate the virtue, of these verses [of the Qur’an] which He hath declared to be His surest testimony, His infallible proof, the evidence of His all-subduing power, and a revelation of the potency of His will. He, the divine King, hath proclaimed the undisputed supremacy of the verses of His Book [the Qur’an] over all things that testify to His truth. For compared with all other proofs and tokens, the divinely-revealed verses [of the Qur’an] shine as the sun, whilst all others are as stars. To the peoples of the world they are the abiding testimony, the incontrovertible proof, the shining light of the ideal King. Their excellence is unrivalled, their virtue nothing can surpass. They are the treasury of the divine pearls and the depository of the divine mysteries. They constitute the indissoluble Bond, the firm Cord, the Urvatu’l-Vuthqá, the inextinguishable Light. Through them floweth the river of divine knowledge, and gloweth the fire of His ancient and consummate wisdom. This is the fire which, in one and the same moment, kindleth the flame of love in the breasts of the faithful, and induceth the chill of heedlessness in the heart of the enemy. — Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 205.
This consummate praise of the Qur’an by Baha’u’llah empowers, equips and enjoins Baha’is—along with other people of conscience, of all faiths and persuasions, everywhere—to vindicate Islam, not only in the eyes of a skeptical public, but under the scrutiny of international opinion.
So please do your part, too, in raising the shield of our collective conscience and voices against the swords of radical Islamists, to defend the good name of Islam and the rights of Muslims and of those minorities under the threat of the “Islamic State.”
Time to befriend Islam. Time to defend Islam. Time to reject the Islamic State, which only pretends to represent Islam. Salam.
Read Chapter 2 of The Blackwell Companion to the Qur’an written by Christopher Buck.