Wednesday, 18 November 2015

"IS has nothing to do with genuine Islam": WRONG

Letter to South China Morning Post:

Hardly have the bodies been counted in the latest jihadi atrocity than the “IS-has-nothing-to-do-with-Islam” crowd renew their chant.  The latest example: “Islam is nothing to do with genuine Islam” (Kwok Hau-lam, Letters, 18 November).

This is dangerous nonsense.

It is nonsense, because it is clearly wrong on the evidence.  The evidence is in IS’s multi-lingual publication, Dabiq, which explains their aims and motivations.  It is replete with Islamic doctrine, from the Koran, the Hadith, the Sunna and the life of Muhammad.  This is not “cherry picking”, for the quotations are extensive.  And they are not wrong, for they can be checked.  The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Baghdad.  Are we to believe that Kwok, joining the ranks of “nothing to do with Islam” crowd, knows more about Islam that al-Baghdadi? Or more than Mohamad al-Arefe, the Saudi cleric, whose tweets to his 12 million followers (twice those of Pope Francis), sound like a clarion call to the votaries of IS?

It is dangerous, because unless and until people recognise the issues within Islam, there is no hope for reformation of its problematic aspects. The concept of martyrdom and sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial within Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is in Christianity.  These doctrines need reform. 

Of course most Muslims are peaceable folk, as Kwok has says.  I have worked in North Korea, in China of the Cultural Revolution and in the Soviet Union. All the people I met were fine and friendly.  But those ideologies weren’t. However nice and moderate the Muslims that Kwok met has nothing to do with the ideas within Islam.  The worst of those ideas need to be challenged.  The human rights activist and ex-Muslim Aayan Hirsi Ali tweeted on Nov 14: “As long as Muslims say IS has nothing to do with Islam or talk of Islamophobia they are not ready to reform their faith.” 

She later tweeted:  “Reform Islam to save it from extremists”.  Reform requires facing the facts.  It doesn’t help to say, even if well-meaning, that IS has nothing to do with Islam.  It doesn’t represent all Muslims, to be sure, but it does represent a large number, with ideas and an ideology, which are inimical to our open and tolerant societies.

For readers wishing to learn more about this, I recommend Muslim reformers like Maajid Nawaz (an ex radical Muslim), reforming ex-Muslims like Ayyan Hirsi Ali, and knowledgable non-Muslims like Sam Harris.

Their ideas, not the platitudes of Mr Kwok, are what may have some hope of change in radical Islam. It may take generations, but will be even longer if we turn our faces away from the plain truth in front of us.

Along same lines as my letter:
People who peddle this nonsense ought to wake up and feel ashamed of themselves. 

The attacks on Paris and Lebanon show, once again, the cold-blooded and shameless nature of members of the group known as Islamic State (IS).
They kill innocent people and, in the areas of Iraq and Syria they have occupied, they force many women into sexual slavery.
It is clear that governments from different countries have to do more than the air strikes on IS-controlled territories.
While air strikes might make some impact in the short term, the leaders of countries such as the US and France must work together to come up with a long-term solution.
We need to try and ask why IS exists in the first place. The group seems to thrive on sectarian strife.
There are still people with set beliefs who refuse to practise religious tolerance and respect religions other than their own. Some of them move towards extremism, preach hate and join groups like IS. Governments need to try and deal with religious intolerance within their own borders.
Some people see no distinction between Islam and IS. I think that is wrong.
I have communicated with Muslims and found they are nothing like IS. Most Muslims are sincere believers in their faith. But they are moderate and they condemn the evil cult of IS.
IS commits its atrocities in the name of Islam and "God", but its evil creed has nothing to do with Islam. I hope that in the near future, IS will be destroyed.
Kwok Hau-lam, Tsing Yi