A group of Muslim religious leaders and imams are taking their lives in their hands to oppose jihad. Yes, you read that right, a group of Muslim leaders are publicly opposing the foul deeds of ISIS.
More than 60 Islamic leaders from 6 major European nations are touring Europe to visit sites of Islamic terror. But they’re not praising it, as one might expect. Instead, they are denouncing religiously inspired acts of terror. They have already visited a terror site in Berlin, and they are working to organize peace marches to demonstrate that not all who follow Muhammad are believers in violence.
One of their leaders, Hassen Chalghoumi is worth our notice. As the leader of the Drancy mosque in Paris, Chalghoumi has come under fire from his fellow Muslims for actions he’s taken to adapt Islam to the West. Not only has he backed the French ban on Islamic women’s head coverings, but he has also engaged in religious dialogues with French Jews. Recently Hassen stated: “We are here to say that our religion and the values of Islam are opposed to those assassins.”
This isn’t the first time Islamic leaders have condemned the actions of their fellow Muslims. In 2015 nearly 70,000 Indian clerics signed a fatwa against ISIS and other groups saying they are not Islamic organizations. Indian cleric Mohammed Ehsan Raza Khan reminded Muslims: “It is written in the Qu’ran that killing one innocent person is equivalent to killing all humanity”
Meanwhile in America, we have jihadist sympathizers like Linda Sarsour. Until recently, she enjoyed the Democratic Party’s support. She has been held up as a model Muslim “feminist.” Sarsour and her ilk labor to spread a narrative of ill-will and resentment among Western Muslims. The more Sarsour’s narrative spreads, the more likely it is that groups like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood will find people willing to radicalize.
This is why we need leaders like Chalghoumi and Khan. If radical Islam is the only escape from the West’s injustice and materialist ennui, then we’re in trouble. But if there is an alternative, as these bold imams are trying to show, then it is possible that not all hope is lost.
This writer, however, still sees some problems – problems inherent to Islam itself.
Like any religion, Islam has foundational principles. One such principle is that the Koran is the un-created, eternal, and absolute word of Allah. As moderate leaders rise up to deal with physical violence, they must also deal with the Koran’s rhetorical violence. Some passages call for the slaying of unbelievers (Surah 2:191-193), others curse Jews for their unbelief (Surah 2:88). A second founding principle is Muhammad as the ideal man. One Islamic scholar says that, the “person of the Holy Prophet Muhammad was the perfect manifestation of the attributes of Allah.” Muhammad’s life is hardly a clean one. After fleeing from Mecca to Medina he taught violence, engaged in warfare, and married a child.
Regardless of these passages, what these moderate clerics are doing is admirable. After all the violence caused by men like Anjem Choudari of the UK or the late Anwar Al-Awlaki, it is good to see Muslim leaders taking a stand against it.
Islam has two options in the West: fight or adapt. I hope that many will choose to adapt, for the present course of warfare promises an ugly future for Westerners, including Muslim citizens.