Muslims condemn ISIS

Since I’ve beefed repeatedly about Muslims remaining silent about the malevolence of Islamic extremists, it’s only fair of me to point out (thanks to reader Ryan) that 126 Muslim scholars, imams, muftis, and other authorities have signed a letter condemning ISIS (pdf file at the link). Good for them, and I hope they suffer no violence.

The letter is long, complicated, and loaded to the gunwales with arcane Muslim theology, but the ending tells the tale.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.07.03 AM

There’s no hope, of course, that ISIS would listen to this, but perhaps more moderate Muslims can be swayed. Kudos to the 126 signatories.

Now is it too much to ask them to condemn sharia law, the institutionalized marginalization of women, stoning for adultery, corporal punishment for crimes like theft, and execution for apostasy?


UPDATE: Reader Janet has called my attention to an article in today’s Los Angeles Times showing how Iraqi television comedians make fun of ISIS. More brave guys, though there’s a disturbing bit of what looks like anti-Semitism in there, too.


  1. Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    There were many Imams that spoke out against radical beliefs after the soldiers were killed in Canada in the two separate incidents. I’m glad CBC gave them the opportunity to speak on national radio.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Obama should invite some of these to the Whitehouse and parade them (in masks if necessary) before the cameras.

  2. olliexford
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I’m currently in the middle of writing a post on Islam within the UK, and I’m finding it really difficult to write about Shari’a law in a way that doesn’t seem ignorant.

  3. Bhagwan
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    The “moderate” scholars in the letter validate jihad, fighting until ‘the religion is of God’, caliphate, sharia law. Sorry this is EXACTLY the problem: the moderates are like ISIS in terms of ideas. The definition of “innocents”, “spreading religion” etc are all flexible – with Mohammad’s example alone enough to justify any barbarism as long as it is directed against non-Muslims or those with guns deem to be non-Muslims. ISIS is simply putting into action what significant numbers of Muslims (15-80% depending on country according to PEW) already believe to be the correct way to organize society.

    The moderate Muslim would be one who promotes secularism: that we need states (everywhere, including and beginning with Saudi Arabia) without reference to Quran or Islam, just like in the west after similar or worse barbarism in the Middle Ages, states instituted laws without Xtianity/Bible, and took away power from savages.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      So, where are the real moderates? What do they say, if anything?

      • Bhagwan
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        There are varying degrees of secularisms and secular parties in eastern EU, Turkey, Malaysia, Tunisia, Egypt, etc – but the threat is always looming e.g. in Egypt most Muslims reject “extremism” but then majority believe sharia law should be used, capital punishment, etc. So its a (very) long way to go.

        The worst part of this problem is simply western liberal relativism – if they were determined from the start to support secular democracies (instead of neocons, or supporting oil dictators, or relativism where sharia is “also valid”) we would not be in this problem because we would have direction.

        • Posted October 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          It is a myth that “most Moslems want Sharia law.” Pew research did surveys of heavily Moslem countries and found that respondents were all over the place on the issue of Sharia Law and things like executing people for leaving Islam (apostasy).

          For example, in Afghanistan, where 99% of the country is Moslem, 99% of the respondents want Sharia Law to be the law of the land and 79% of those want people who forsake Islam to be executed. That is, about 78% of Afghanistan wants the death penalty for apostasy.

          On the other hand, in Turkey, where 97% of the country is Moslem, only 17% of the country wants Sharia Law to be the law of the land, and of those, only 12% want people who forsake Islam to be executed. That is, only about 2% of Turkey wants the death penalty for apostasy.

          78% down to 2%, and that is in countries where virtually everyone is Moslem. I don’t know what the statistics are for countries where moslems are a tiny minority as is the case with the USA.

          See my tirade in teh talk section of Wikipedia for more info:

          • Bhagwan
            Posted October 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            I specifically said Egypt – and was in fact making it clear that secularists DO exist within the Ummah

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 30, 2014 at 2:10 am | Permalink

          Secularists win in Tunisia:

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        After the shooting in Canada many individual Muslims and Muslim groups denounced what happened and although of course I do not believe them when they say that Islam is a religion of peace, I believe them when they say they believe that so I am hopeful. If they want to cherry pick the good parts like Christians do, that is a big step for Islam (though probably not for individual Muslims who have been doing that for a long time). I did like their message that these people were trying to turn us into barbarians.

        What was especially heartening, is a group at York University in Toronto (the same university where earlier this year a long distance student said he didn’t want to do his group project with women and he was accommodated which caused a backlash), put together a group to stop radicalization:

        A Toronto-area Muslim student group from York University also released a statement saying it has started a campaign against radicalized youth, called “Stop the Crisis.”

  4. Mike Paps
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    While I applaud the 126 for speaking out, and their courage, as problematic as them needing courage is. I bet a simple google search would likely find me hundreds of Muslim “scholars, imams, muftis, and other authorities” condemning the eating of pork who need only one verse Quran, 2:173, rather than 17 pages “loaded to the gunwales with arcane Muslim theology” to justify that position. If it takes 17 pages to explain why what ISIS is doing is wrong. I think there’s a problem.

  5. reasonshark
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    OK, let me see if I’ve got this:

    Because the Holy Texts say so, God is mercy, so Muslims should practise mercy on the merciful and no mercy towards the merciless. ISIS have shown no mercy, so they have disgraced the name of Islam and should repent.

    I don’t want to knock signs that Muslims disagree with the barbaric practises of the violent strands of Islam, especially not when I’ve been keen to see such evidence. To put it mildly, though, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.

  6. Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Sure, the Qur’an is all about mercy – it’s lousy with mercy! – but Marvin Gaye’s Mercy, Mercy Me is way better to make-out to.

  7. GBJames
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Awful as ISIS is, I’m hoping it will force a large number of reasonable Muslims to question their faith, kind of like how the right-wing Christian extremists in the US have contributed to the secularization movement here.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      I’m hoping for a reformation at the least. Something big that can change thing….maybe there were be a few to come over to the cool atheist side but I’m not holding my breath.

      • reasonshark
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        It’d probably help if the US didn’t keep bombing their countries. That sort of thing tends to make reform a bit harder than necessary.

  8. Vaal
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    A good start I guess.

    But about this part…

    God has described Himself as the “Most Merciful of the merciful.”

    Well I can describe myself as the “Most Handsome of the handsome.” But the evidence won’t support my claim, so such declarations are meaningless unless they are demonstrated. Which certainly isn’t the case for the Abrahamic God’s purported behavior.

    When someone describes his God or Religion as “merciful” that isn’t exactly comforting. In fact it sets off alarm bells. Because:

    1. “Mercy” assumes some form of condemnation. At the very least you are being granted something you purportedly don’t deserve. And with religion this usually involves being saddled with imaginary crimes.

    2. “Mercy” provides no real indication of what anyone might do or not do to you, because mercy is inherently relative. Whatever is being done to you can be deemed “merciful” on the grounds that “you could have had it worse.” If someone’s modus operandi was to torture people relentlessly upon capture, he may see it as “mercy” to kill you.

    There are others in the world who feel my heathen-ass being conquered, subjugated and “allowed” to live under their strict Religious Laws would be “merciful” because “we could have stoned or beheaded you instead.”

    Small comfort, little to celebrate there.

    • Sastra
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes, when asked to describe one’s best qualities, how many people would start out with “Well, first and foremost, I am very merciful?” It’s a virtue with some pretty ominous background music to it.

      • Posted October 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Something by Hans Zimmer, perhaps… “Am I not merciful?


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, now I’m going to be tempted to say that during job interviews and when my brain tries to censor me (the smart part of the brain that knows jokes can backfire), I won’t be able to think of anything else to say and will just start mumbling incomprehensibly.

      • Vaal
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Exactly what I was trying to get across.
        Well put.

  9. Democrat
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Good that you noticed anti-semitism. Even when moderate muslims protest they are still in denial. Ask them who created ISIS and other jihadis organizations like Al Qaeda and they will say it’s Zionist Jews.

  10. ashdeville
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Scholars, clerics and theologians – I almost wish there was a rapture as they would be the first to go!

  11. Randy Schenck
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I would agree that this does not amount to much. If this very long letter is their best effort to condemn what ISIS is doing it’s just crazy. Surely you don’t have to get into a writing of the entire book to explain this thing. The western mind does not get it.

  12. DrDroid
    Posted October 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Well I suppose we should be thankful for whatever push back against ISIS we can get, but this boatload of arcane theologizing is not going to be understood by anyone but Islamic theologians, half of them are going to disagree with it, ordinary Muslims are going to scratch their heads, and the rest of us are saying WTF? I support progressive Muslims who are trying to reform their religion but this kind of thing is more what I was hoping for:

  13. mattmoore91
    Posted October 31, 2014 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    This is something of a daft article because the shitty things about ISIS are those articles of the faith such as treatment of women, Sharia law etc. If one living under ISIS is completely observant to the articles of faith that ISIS deem of high priority then they’re substantially less likely to become a victim of violence and barbarism.

    Condemning ISIS’s harsh implementation of the faith, while separating declining to acknowledge that ISIS or otherwise the treatment of women in the faith etc is innately barbaric then you’re not condemning ISIS fully.

  14. Glen Steen
    Posted October 31, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Seems the Quran has something to say about moderate Muslims.

    “Quran (4:95) – “Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,-” This passage criticizes “peaceful” Muslims who do not join in the violence, letting them know that they are less worthy in Allah’s eyes. It also demolishes the modern myth that “Jihad” doesn’t mean holy war in the Quran, but rather a spiritual struggle. Not only is the Arabic word used in this passage, but it is clearly not referring to anything spiritual, since the physically disabled are given exemption. (The Hadith reveals the context of the passage to be in response to a blind man’s protest that he is unable to engage in Jihad and this is reflected in other translations of the verse).”

%d bloggers like this: