Whenever there is a terrorist outrage, we often hear a call in the West for “Muslims to condemn the terrorists”.
This faux anger at the worldwide Muslim community (once has to wonder at the motivation for it) ignores the very obvious fact that hundreds of thousands of Muslims are actively involved in the fight against IS, (and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as well), and also the oft-ignored fact that opinion in the Muslim world is as diverse as in any other multi-faceted community.
One of my favourite saying is “put two Jews in a room and get three opinions.” Exactly the same could be said of Muslims. The idea that Islam is one great monolithic set of beliefs or attitudes is simply nonsensical.
The West and Islam are often shown to be in conflict, largely because of the vitriolic propaganda and appalling actions of small but effective numbers of people allied to IS, Al Qaeda and others. But the fact is that an existential conflict is actually underway for the soul of Islam throughout the Middle East and beyond and we forget that the vast majority of violence in the area is Muslim versus Muslim.
Anyway, it would be hard to imagine a more trenchant response from the Muslim community to the latest outrage from IS than that which we have seen from Jordan in the last 24 hours, including what seems to have been a very effective air raid against extremist positions, and then this AFP report from Cairo: Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s most prestigious centre of learning, has expressed outrage at the (Sunni) Islamic State group for burning to death a captive Jordanian pilot, saying its militants deserve to be killed or crucified.
After a video was released showing the caged fighter pilot, Maaz al-Kassasbeh, dying engulfed in flames, the Cairo-based authority’s head, Ahmed al-Tayib, expressed his “strong dismay at this cowardly act”.
This “requires the punishment mentioned in the Koran for these corrupt oppressors who fight against God and his prophet: killing, crucifixion or chopping of the limbs.”
“Islam forbids killing of the innocent human soul … It forbids mutilating the human soul by burning or in any other way even during wars against an enemy that attacks you,” Tayib added in a statement.
Ironically, IS itself has implemented such punishments against its own members for robbery at checkpoints or stealing funds from religious endowments in territories controlled by the group in Iraq and Syria. Jihadist group Ansar al-Shariah have also crucified “US sympathisers” in Yemen.
Despite the efforts of some to paint it otherwise, IS and other groups are regarded as deluded, mad and evil by millions of Muslims.
To say otherwise is, quite simply, to lie.