Thursday, April 14, 2016

ISIS’s Western (s)hit list and the former South African-based cleric

ISIS, the so-called “Islamic State”, has published 14 editions of its online magazine, Dabiq. It is a catchy masthead title. Dabiq is the Syrian town mentioned in an end-time Prophetic tradition where Muslim and “Roman” armies will fight a bloody battle that will herald the arrival of Jesus.

The magazine itself is well laid-out, colourful and graphic – but it does become an extremely dense read due to its evangelical otherism and downright bloodthirstiness. Its copious misquotes, its long-winded reckonings, its sweeping generalisations, its hectoring, its theological absolutism, its pornography of violence and its gross misinterpretations of classical sources also make it extremely difficult to digest.  

Its latest edition certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The cover has an etched photo of the former Egyptian president and now jailed Islamic Brotherhood leader, Muhammad Morsi, at the ballot box – evidently a symbol of evil. Sub-headed in green against black, it is entitled “The Murtadd (faith-betraying) Brotherhood”.

The editorial feature proceeds to revile the ikhwan for selling out to secularism, drowning the text with decontextualised quotations. It states that “over the last few decades, a devastating cancer (the Brotherhood) has emerged, mutated, and spread, attempting to drown the entire Muslim community in apostasy”.

Dabiq carries on in its usual breathless manner that… “It should be clear now…why the Brotherhood is a party of extreme apostasy and why it is thus obligatory upon the Muslims to declare the stance of takfir (unbelief), bara’ah (disavowal), animosity, and enmity towards this group…”

Brussels, the very latest locus of ISIS-attributed terror is featured too, in sickening Dabiq doggerel.

“Brussels, the heart of Europe, has been struck. The blood of its vitality spilled on the ground, trampled under the feet of the mujahidin. Flames ignited years ago in Iraq have now scorched the battleground of Belgium, soon to spread to the rest of crusader Europe and the West.”
The alleged suicide bombers of Brussels Airport and the Metro station, former convicts Ibrahim al-Bakrawi and Khalid al-Bakrawi, are referred to as the “Knights of Shahada” with the traits of “generosity and bravery” grotesquely attributed to them.  
Indeed, reading Dabiq is a shocking experience – even for a hardened journalist like myself. And even it wasn’t true, the old cliché to fall back onto comedy, doesn’t apply. Even if ISIS wasn’t a political reality, and even if it hadn’t claimed a caliphate in the dangerous vacuum created by Mid-East occupiers, the magazine would still make one’s blood run cold.   
But perhaps the most ominous, and alarmingly seditious, aspect of this latest edition is a story entitled “Kill the Imams of Kufr (unbelief) in the West”. Described as “venomous” religious leaders who’ve maintained a disunity in Islam, they’re accused – somewhat predictably – of uniting upon western interests.
In the story all these imams are named, some even pictured, with the captions describing them as “taghut”, or deviant. And whilst most hail from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, there is a South African link in Dr Abdullah Hakim Quick, a historian, social activist and mission worker, who spent over a decade amongst the poorest in Cape Town, returning to his home in Canada in 2010.
Quick, currently a Senior Lecturer and Resident Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto and the Outreach Coordinator for the Canadian Council of Imams,  attracts Dabiq’s ire for his messages of condolence for Canadians killed by ISIS, and for his outspoken stance on social issues.
Quick, who has campaigned against racism and homophobia, has said that some of his closest blood relations are Christian and that many of his colleagues and friends are of the Jewish faith, a total anathema to ISIS.
Other personalities, whilst perhaps not well-known outside Muslim circles, are key figureheads of reason and moderation in the Islamic world community. Ironically, two of the vilified religious figures, Bilal Philips and Pierre Vogel, are allied to the Saudi arch-conservative school of Wahhabism, but are attacked anyway for publicly condemning ISIS’s theology.
Shaikh Hamza Yusuf of the US, a Sufi and classical scholar who heads the Zaytuna Institute, is described as “the pinnacle of apostasy”. The Sufis, who follow the spiritual inward path of Islam, are particularly reviled by ISIS. Shaikh Hisham Kabbani of the US Naqshbandi Sufi Order is singled out for abuse as is Shaikh Muhammad Yacoubi, a Syrian exile and scholar, who has written a book debunking ISIS.
Imam Suhail Webb, celebrated for his conciliatory role between faith communities in the US,  is described as the “joke of Al-Azhar” – Islam’s best-known theological university – and a man who has spent his career making a name for and a fool of himself as the “all-American imam”. Another public figure to incur the sanctimonious wrath of ISIS is Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim and Democratic Representative for Minnesota.
ISIS’s sinister message – which encourages people to actually kill these people – is reflected thus:
One must either take the journey to Dar al-Islam (the “Islamic” state), joining the ranks of the mujahidin therein, or wage jihad by himself with the resources available to him (knives, guns, explosives, etc.) to kill the cru­saders and other disbelievers and apostates, including the imams of kufr, to make an example of them..
The “them” and “us” sum-game, the ultimate resort of those who think that they are the only rightly guided ones, is found in the wind-up to the feature.
“The two camps (of Islam and the rest of the world community) have continuously become more distinct. Those who support the word of kufr on one side and the supporters of Allah’s word on the other. In this clouded time, each Muslim must be careful and be sure to be in the right camp”.
Bearing the above in mind, perhaps the safest thing  to conclude from this latest Dabiq and ISIS diatribe is, that in reality, it is the opposite which is true. That as a Prophetic axiom goes: he who wrongly utters unbelief (such as the ISIS caliph) may well indeed be proclaiming the same upon himself.

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Agree with us, or off with your head. Image Daily Mail.
The ISIS "hit list"

Hamza Yusuf
Suhaib Webb
Muhammad al-Yaqoubi
Hisham Kabbani
Yasir Qadhi
Bilal Philips
Pierre Vogel
Tawfique Chowdhury
Waleed Basyouni
Abdullah Hakim Quick
Abū Basīr at-Tartūsī
Mohamed Elibiary,
Arif Alikhan,
Rashad Hussain,
Keith Ellison,
Huma Abedin
Muhammad Abdul Bari,
Sayeeda Warsi,
Waqar Azmi,
Sajid Javid,
Ajmal Masroor