THE LEVANT – By Waleed Abu al-Khair – Egypt’s Grand Mufti recently described the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) as a “terrorist entity” that has “violated all Islamic values and the great purposes of sharia”.
“Such a bloody extremist group poses a threat to Islam and Muslims, and tarnishes its image,” said Sheikh Shawqi Allam in remarks made during an August 12th meeting in Cairo.
“Fighting terrorism and extremism requires international and regional co-operation at all levels,” he said.
The Grand Mufti called on all Arab peoples to unite against these threats and close the doors to sedition, to participate in building their homelands and to prevent any person or entity from sowing the seeds of discord among them.
The Grand Mufti’s remarks “are based on a strong set of sharia and legal evidence”, said Sheikh Abdul Baqi al-Gizawi of the sharia research department at Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa.
ISIL’s actions are “truly a disgrace to Islam, Muslims and the history of the Islamic nation”, he told Al-Shorfa.
ISIL IS DISSIDENT FROM ISLAM
Dar al-Iftaa has maintained that ISIL is dissident from Islam and must be confronted, al-Gizawi said. It also views ISIL’s actions in Iraq as criminal activities, especially its destruction of the shrines and tombs of prophets and the righteous.
Additionally, he said, ISIL’s actions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt, which it claims are in accordance with sharia and in step with the predecessors, “are the ultimate in debasement and trading in religion”.
“Islamic history has never witnessed such a blatant assault on non-Muslims,” he said. “Sharia called for spreading Islam through justice and reason, not by beheadings and destruction of religious structures.”
Islamic scholars are in agreement on ISIL’s extremist views, he said, noting that fatwas and statements similar to the remarks made by Egypt’s Grand Mufti have been issued in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.
With these pronouncements, “the religious cover these criminal gangs hide behind has been lifted”, he said.
Most recently, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh denounced ISIL and al-Qaeda as the “No. 1 Enemies of Islam“.
CHURCHES CONTRIBUTE TO AWARENESS
The Grand Mufti of Egypt’s remarks affirm the moderate stance advocated by Al-Azhar and confirm once again that ISIL and groups of its kind do not represent Islam, said Bishop Mikhail Bakhos of the Saint Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Giza.
“It is not the first time that Egypt’s Muslims have disavowed terrorists,” he told Al-Shorfa, calling on the church and civil society, academic, cultural and media organisations to support Dar al-Iftaa and Al-Azhar in their efforts to eradicate takfiri terrorist ideology.
This ideology “shows no mercy to anyone, not Muslims, nor Christians, nor the followers of any other faith”, Bakhos said.
Through its sermons and teachings, the church has been stressing that ISIL does not represent Muslims or the teachings of Islam, he added.
Preachers and imams in Egypt’s mosques, under instruction from Al-Azhar and Dar al-Iftaa, also are focusing on the threat ISIL poses to Arab and Islamic communities in their sermons and teachings, said Sheikh Abdul Moneim Mohammed, imam of al-Nour Mosque in al-Maadi.
They have been explaining how the group’s actions run contrary to Islam, he told Al-Shorfa.
Mohammed said he is intensifying the educational sessions he holds with young people between the ages of 15 and 20 to immunize them intellectually and ideologically against any attempt by extremist groups to recruit them.
“I have, for example, showed a video to a group of youths that depicts some of the crimes carried out by these groups to underscore their ideological deviation and the level of criminality they have reached,” he said.
Sami Wahab, a secondary school teacher in Cairo, said he is looking forward to the start of the school year to disseminate and explain to his students the statements issued by Dar al-Iftaa in relation to ISIL, he told Al-Shorfa.
“Certainly, the role of schools in general and teachers in particular is no less important than the role of clerics and religious institutions in confronting the threat of ideological terrorism and extremism that is trying to spread in the communities,” he said.