The Black and White (and Blood-Red) Roots of ISIS

The latest gruesome video released by ISIS showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff, just thirteen days after the execution of James Foley, is a stark reminder – if such reminders are necessary – of the blood-thirsty brutality of ISIS.

ISIS’s flag is black and white, the perfect colors for a group that seeks to implement “Islam,” which it sets against a world of disbelief (kufr). Christians, who’ve been living amongst Muslims for over fourteen centuries (though members of ISIS are anything but historians) must either convert to Islam, pay the tax (jizya), or die.

It appears, though, that Christians are being killed despite having paid the jizya, which historically ensured that non-Muslims were protected by the State, and were free to practice their religion. If CNN reports are to be believed, Christian men are being beheaded, as are children, and the women are being taken as wives by ISIS members. If such reports are true, these acts are in major contravention of the most basic precepts of Islamic rule. But then again we are dealing with a group that draws its inspiration from Wahhabism, a fundamentally anti-intellectual tradition.

Taking its name from its founder Ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703-1792), Wahhabism is based on the idea that Islam has been corrupted over the centuries; that Islam has been changed by so-called Muslims from a religion of pure monotheism, to a superstitious culture of saint- and grave-worship. (Which is how Sufism, the central dimension of Islam, practiced by the vast majority of Muslims through the longue durée of Islamic history, is characterized by Wahhabis.)

Wahhabism asserts that the fourteen centuries of science, arts, literature, philosophy, religious scholarship, and non-religious scholarship – all aspects of Islamic civilization, or any civilization for that matter – are fundamentally corrupt and must be done away with. Anything that has not been explicitly sanctioned by the Prophet of Islam is considered an innovation (bida) destined for hell that therefore must be purified – far too often by violently removing it from the face of the earth.

The Saudi royal family, which goes back to Muhammad Ibn Saud (d.1765), a tribal chief of Diriyyah (near present day Riyadh), struck a deal with Abdul Wahhab. Abdul Wahhab would be given sponsorship in lands under Ibn Saud’s rule, while Abdul Wahhab would give religious legitimacy to Ibn Saud’s political authority.

The Wahhabi conquest of Arabia that followed saw Wahhabis going into towns and cities and summarily putting to the sword anyone who did not affirm the Wahhabi doctrine. “Historical sources describe horrendous massacres committed by Wahhabi forces in the eighteenth century all across Arabia,” writes noted scholar of Islam, Khaled Abou El-Fadl, in his book The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists. Ibn Saud and Abdul Wahhab’s alliance eventually became the cornerstone of the present Saudi kingdom, established in 1932 with the long-term support of the British, who had wanted to gain a foothold in Arabia, and to destroy the Ottoman caliphate (both of which had been achieved by then).

Fast forward to the present. ISIS is systematically butchering Christians despite their Quranic designation as “People of the Book” – a special status also accorded to Jews. The argument that Wahhabis of ISIS’s stripe put forward is: The Jews and Christians that God refers to in the Quran are not the same as Jews and Christians today. Christians today worship Jesus and Mary. They are therefore idolaters. And idolaters must either become Muslim or they must die.

This is terrible nonsense. In the Prophet’s own lifetime, and in the lifetimes of his companions who took over the first Islamic State following his death, Muslims signed treaties with Jews and Christians, and their lives and property were considered inviolable.

ISIS is also butchering Shias and Yazidis. The Wahhabi position is that The Shia are not really Muslims, they venerate Ali (the Prophet’s son-in-law) while undermining the Prophet, so off with their heads!

As for the second group, they are considered devil-worshippers, so it’s perfectly fine to let them die of thirst on the mountains. What a tragic reversal of history. Early on in his career, the Prophet and his young community were forced out of Mecca by the imposition of economic and social sanctions by the Quraysh (the mortal enemies of Islam) and they had to live in conditions of virtual starvation for three years in a gorge. It was hoped that they would just die of hunger and thirst.

The Saudi government has, in the name of purifying Islam of “idols,” systematically been demolishing major sites of Islamic heritage throughout Mecca and Medina, such as the graves of vitally important Islamic personages. (Although they haven’t yet been able to do so, no doubt from fear of a major backlash from Muslims across the globe, there has long been serious talk of destroying the Prophet’s tomb – again, because, according to Wahhabi doctrine, it constitutes an “idol.”) In their place, the Saudi government has been erecting enormous monuments to the grossest form of materialism.

With mirror image zeal, ISIS has been demolishing major sites of religious importance, including the Prophet Seth’s shrine. Although it doesn’t have the money to erect its own idols to capitalism and consumerism, what money ISIS does have – and it is not insignificant – appears to be coming from Saudi coffers.

Describing the “signs” of the end of times, the Prophet said:

There will come a time for my people when nothing of the Quran will remain except its outward form, and nothing of Islam will remain except its name – and they will call themselves by this name, even though they will be people furthest from it.

ISIS is the black and white, blood-soaked face of a fallen Islam with no historical or intellectual substance; an Islam that bears no resemblance to the Islam it’s trying to replace, or the Islam that it’s seeking to recreate. At the very least, then, we may hope and pray (and act in our individual and collective ways) that – as with all things – ISIS too will pass.

68 Comments

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    The author indicates that the brand of Islam practiced by ISIS is “fallen,” has “no historical substance” and “bears no resemblance to the Islam it is trying to replace.”

    This would seem to indicate a marginal offshoot of what is, after, all a very large group of people; a group who presumably embrace a humane, civilized form of the Islamic faith. (Otherwise, why the contrast between the two?)

    If this is the case, I wonder if the author could speculate as to why there has not been a single liberal democracy, within geographic boundaries of the Islamic world? Liberal democracy appeared in Christendom at about the same time as Wahabism emerged in Islam, but elements of it go back as far as Magna Carta.

    Why this complete absence of good society and good politics, amongst a people who, the author maintains, are nothing like the debased model being presented by ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc.?

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    in terms of its hermeneutics and worldview ISIS is a logical extension of ahl-hadith based approach to the ISlamic tradition as I have argued in this academic article ( as well as in my other writigns including a book) : https://www.academia.edu/274843/Constructing_the_Religious_Self_and_the_Other_Neo-Traditional_Salafi_Manhaj

  • villabolo@yahoo.com' Villabolo says:

    If Wahhabism is anti-technology then why is it adept at propaganda through the electronic media?

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' LegalizeLezMarriage says:

    “liberal democracy” meaning what exactly? France is banning burqas and niqabs, the UK is lurching farther right every day, and in the US you only have the privilege of democratic rights if you’re not a brown person. Oh, and let’s not forget Israel, supposedly the Middle East’s Only Democracy, which doesn’t actually have freedom of religion, but rather government-sanctioned religions.

    If what you’re implying with the question is that Islam and intellectual democratic liberal thought are incompatible, just come out and say it. However, it seems that democratic governments have only truly been enabled when religious privilege has been eliminated; this has not been the case in any nation in the Middle East or Africa as far as I know.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    The world is turning against these extremists. By now the only thing that could change that would be if the United States turns again to extremism like we did 11 or 12 years ago as a response and the world turns against us even more.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I would argue that these are matters of degree. Israel is a hell of a lot more democratic than any other country in the region…by a long shot. And the US, when it was founded, was quite a religious country. Certainly, its democracy was still developing–blacks, women, etc.—but even then, it was more democratic than Syria or Saudi Arabia today.

    The question really was just a question. It is puzzling don’t you think, given that we know that most Muslims aren’t ISIS types?

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    What should be the response of a nation, when its citizens are captured and beheaded on camera?

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    What if they did something thousands of times worse, like hijack planes and fly them into skyscrapers in our most densely populated area and crash the buildings? Hopefully we learned the lesson, don’t use it as an opportunity to overreact, and invade an uninvolved country that happens to be another enemy of the ones who attacked us, and throw the entire region into chaos. We need to think this through. The most important thing is not those two unfortunate Americans. We are concerned with the entire region. Right now, The Islamic world is also concerned about the region, and ISIS. They have a bad name among those countries, and their future looks bleak. Unless they can get us to overreact like we did before, and instead of facing the wrath of their fellow Muslim countries they can get everyone to hate us. If we fight them, they will fight back as they have been for the last 10 years, only stronger. The only way this will ever be resolved is if the Arab world finds their own solution, and the more we try to intervene militarily the more we will mess it up.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    This doesn’t answer the question, but rather dances around it.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    It is not our country. We can’t go around the world and capture and punish anyone in any other country that commits a crime against an American citizen. This is what happened before. People worked themselves up into a frenzy, and demanded action, and didn’t think it through.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    So what you are saying is that the government of the United States has no responsibility to its citizens, when they are captured, tortured, and murdered overseas. And not soldiers, but rather, civilians, engaged in legitimate business — like journalism.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    And you are saying every time an American is captured, tortured, or murdered overseas we need to start bombing, at the very least.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Where did I say that?

    You are committing the fallacy of False Dilemma.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    You don’t like my response, so what are you saying?

    The day after 9/11 America was the most loved nation in the world. After we finished reacting, it was the most hated.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    You really think that there is nothing in between doing nothing and bombing a country?

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    You don’t like my answer, so what would you do?

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    More than you would do (which is nothing), but less than bombing a country.

    After Black September murdered the Israeli athletes at the 72 Olympics, Israel sent out assassins through Europe and the Middle East and killed the people responsible one by one. Seems like a good response to me.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    I think nothing might be better because then the Arab world will be against these guys. We don’t want America to end up hated the way Israel is.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    America is already hated by the people we are talking about.

    Displaying weakness is the absolutely worst thing one could do. It does not defuse, but rather, emboldens those of the beheading mentality.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Those people don’t matter. We don’t want to be hated by the rest of the world. It also doesn’t matter about emboldening the beheaders because they have to be shut down by the rest of the Muslim world, not us. They are not trying to defeat us. They are trying to draw us in so that our reaction turns others against us.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I disagree with this entirely, although certainly, being the sole superpower in a unipolar political landscape has proven to be very difficult to navigate well.

  • dkeane123@comcast.net' DKeane123 says:

    Whenever purity is backed by your god, unspeakable acts seem to always follow.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    This article makes accusations and it raises more questions than it answers. Are Salafis the same as Sunnis? Obviously ISIS and The Saudis are not allies, so the main line the story proposes is false. These two do not operate on the same principles. The Saudis say their rule is because of their bloodline and the purity of their bloodline. My main complaint is that this is a religious website that discusses a variety of faiths. There is no debate in the Muslim world about ISIS. The Saudi religious authorities reject them as do all Muslims scholars around the world. Nihad Awad does a better job than Br. Hassan and here is a link that more directly addresses the essentials about ISIS: http://time.com/3273873/stop-isis-islam/

    And on the Website Muslim Matters (http://muslimmatters.org/2014/09/03/of-tombs-madinah-and-manufactured-journalism-the-reality-behind-the-independent-article-on-the-prophets-grave/ ) there is an excellent discussion about the Saudis and the religious sites under their control. They are the guardians of the holy sites, so those who bash them must be fair or be silent and to slander them and rage against them is wrong. One of our primary calls as Muslims is towards unity. The Salafis are wrong when they attack the Sufis…and we are just as wrong for going at the Saudis.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    are you a Muslim? More important: ARE YOU A MUSLIM SCHOLAR????

    If you aren’t, why in the hell are you here pretending to be one?

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    Christianity is 2,000 years old and I believe our modern form of democracy appeared about 250 years ago? so we have a 1750 anti democratic track record for Christians and today we have money rushing to the top in American democracy and money making America less democratic by the day. I wonder if you can explain the long anti un-democratic tendencies of the Christian West?

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I am the first to be critical of my own government and of those of other countries in the industrialized West. I am speaking in purely relative terms. That said, the fact is that the citizens in countries like the United States *largely* live in liberal cultures, with *relatively* democratic politics. A gay or lesbian couple can get married, now, in many states in the US–and more every day–while in most Islamic countries, being publicly gay will get you imprisoned or killed. The lives of women are substantially better in the industrialized West than in Islamic countries. Etc.

    It is entirely possible for A to be better, in some respect, to B, without A being perfect or even best. I think we would all agree that it would be better, if gays and lesbians, women, religious minorities, and others would enjoy better living conditions in countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia.

    My question really was a question and not a slam of any kind. The author seems knowledgeable. I was interested in his opinion as to why modern Islamic countries have been so resistant to liberal and democratic institutions.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    You should see the articles on Mormons. Extremely critical. The articles about Evangelical Christianity are also often very tough.

    There’s really no need to feel persecuted here. RD is largely liberal and even progressive on religion. Thus, you’ll find that it is critical of most conservative and fundamentalist forms of religion, across the board.

    It would be very good to have more Muslims participating in conversations, here, though. I hope you will continue to comment!

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    “relatively liberal…” unless you are a young black male or a hispanic living in the deep south. You are making a slightly political argument about liberalization and you probably make this argument residing in the US which has been moving away from liberalization for the last 30 years. I am not here to go on and on about the wonderfully run Muslim countries. Even in Islam there is religion and there is politics. We say that we combine them in Islam, but in reality, politics is usually dominated more by culture than anything else. In politics, you reign by putting together a ruling coalition. If you look at most places in the world, that coalition is not religion. In Saudi Arabia, the discussion of this article, The ruling group are kings and princes. This is not the Sunnah (proven verifiable ways of the Prophet and his companions). So even while they claim a rabid allegiance to the past, they reject it as a means of deciding who runs the political matters of “the Kingdom.” To say that where Islam is is more or less liberal, without taking such factors into account is simply painting an inaccurate prejudiced picture.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    One more thing that should be added, whatever religions have posters supporting them here, those are the religions that get attacked. When there were a lot of Mormons here that was the main religion coming under fire. For a long time there weren’t too many Catholics here. Now that there are more posting, they are getting criticized. This is all part of the process of finding what might be of value in the world of religion.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    It’s much worse to be a gay or a lesbian–or a woman–in Saudi Arabia than it is to be African American, in the US, even in the South.

    I actually don’t disagree with most of what you write here. I really was just interested to see if the author had a view on the resistance of Islamic countries to liberal institutions.

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    this is who I am. PH.D in contemporary Islamic hermeneutics : https://malaya.academia.edu/AdisDuderija

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    Adis, you show credentials, but I have to wonder. You do know that Islam is an academic based theology? We have universities. I am sure there are academies in Malaysia. Sunni Islam is based on the Quran and the Sunnah and we know the Sunnah by the Hadeeth. You state ISIS is a logical extension of a hadeeth based approach. Most of the world’s Muslims follow the Hadeeth with only a tiny secular subset rejecting the hadeeth and the Sunnah, so if your statement about the hadeeth is logical, you are saying that the Muslim scholars of the world are no good. Can you explain why you post yourself as a Muslim academic, and then go on to say Muslims scholars are “illogical”???

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    GrebAbdul, I sincerely advise you to read the article I posted and than you will have a better idea as to what I am saying…….once I see evidence of you engaging the arguments I will respond….

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    it’s worse because you are not African American. Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown would disagree with you.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    I read you. The page you link to says a lot of what any Muslim knows. Salafis reject the madhabs and say only look to the Salaf. You say a rational hadeeth-based approach to Islamic traditions leads to extremism. A rational person who knows Islam and Muslims, who practices Islam and listens to public statements by modern Muslims scholars know that the rational line you state is more slander than fact.I am saying to you over and over, madhabs use and rely on hadeeth and that they are a central part of Islam. Sunni Muslims are 85% of the world’s Muslims. We use madhabs as a way to interpret the Quran and the Hadeeth. Salafis differ from us in rejecting scholarly lineage, but not in the sources. Hadeeth is a primary source for most of the world’s Muslims. What is on your link is fine. I understand the need for academic language there, but here we are just blokes. In university, you publish papers and these papers become a procession of knowledge. This is the idea behind madhabs. But no professor rejects Aristotle. We take the initial knowledge and fine tune it to our situations. No modern academic person would say that following Aristotle logically leads to extremism. This is what I need for you to explain: what you have stated here, is a statement against Muslims.

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    ahl hadith manhaj shares many interpretational tendencies ( as well as overall political theology ) with the madhahb-based approaches ( especially non-usuli based madhahb approaches) as I argued in my book “constructing…..”. i urge you to read this and you will get a better understanding of what I am saying: http://quhas.org/media.php?module=detail-jurnal&v=1&n=2&id=3. but I would also urge you to read my work on difference between sunna and hadith…

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    I think you are trying to battle to create definitions. I guess we all are, but what you do here is say that those who follow hadeeth are logically tied to ISIS…to put it mildly, that’s overstatement. Some of us “traditionalists” believe that there are people from every minority group who get to the gates of academia and see their only way in is to throw those who raised them over to the wolves, so we get this thing were you see people taking money to bash the people and ideas they were raised on. Clarence Thomas and Zudhi Jasser and the most famous who do this. Islam is already defined and we define it through the Quran and the Sunnah. That means 99.9% of the world’s Muslims rely on hadeeth. I hope you are not taking money to engage in the futile quest of changing our source understandings of what it is to be a Muslim.

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    what I am saying is that there is a difference between how hadith are hermeneutically employed in ahl hadith based manhaj and madhhab based manhaj , esepcially the usuli-based madhhab based manhaj but also that there are similarities and overlaps ( especially between non usuli madhhab based manhaj and ahl hadith based manhaj)….you are not in a position to judge my motivations so please dissist as this is a path to sin…. if you have some knowledge /arguments I have not taken into account in my work ,please do inform me and i am very open to revising my views ..othwerwise we are waiting each others time…..

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    I wish you would stop with the big words brother. usul means methodology. madhab means school of thought. we should make this is simple as we can without being overly simplistic. I am not assuming your motivations. I asked you and I gave some examples of those who I believe are on the wrong track. being as simple as I can, you are saying there is madhab-based versus the people who strictly follow hadeeth. This is an interpretation. Sunni Muslims are ah lal Sunnah wal Jammah. We have always called ourselves the people of the Sunnah. It’s not those who follow hadeeth versus those who do not. We use Imam Hanbali’s hadeeth and cite him as a valid source. I said…we differ in interpretation, but that difference is really they do not believe in scholarly lineage. Once you take a lineage of scholarship on any subject you always see an evolution of knowledge. Salafis reject this based on the Islamic principle that says the best Muslims were the first Muslims. Our methodology, the one that presently dominates the Muslim world is madhabs. We have 1,400 years of scholarly interpretation. You are using big words to talk around simple concepts. Your “method 1,” is the orthodox method most of the world’s Muslims use to interpret the Quran and the Sunnah. I don’ mean to call you names, but if you are making friends with non Muslims because you are not a traditionalist, you are like bird food in flock of birds. The Muslims, who go to mosque and form our Muslim organizations are overwhelmingly orthodox and follow madhabs outside of Saudi Arabia. I spent a good hour going through your writings and you tend to take simple subjects and twist them into complicated things with the idea of introducing new concepts into our discourse. Most of us, even the secular ones, are pretty conservative. Brother your energy is better spent explaining what we already believe instead of trying to create new methodologies and ways for us to interpret our texts. I have a sheik who traces his teachers back to the Prophet…all the big words in the world will never put you between me and him. We find the Sunnah by following the hadeeth. If you don’t like Islam, then you should be a murtad. Don’t say you like Islam, but we need to change it for you.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    sorry….your new made-up term left me talking a lot and missing your point. I don’t mean to waste your time. I ask that you use your abilities to explain what we believe in language already established by our scholars. We taqlidis consider ourselves “ahl hadeeth,” as do most of the world’s Muslims. Salafis would argue and say you are slandering them. I have met Salafis who were excellent Muslims. Right now the West wants to demonize Muslims. They wanted to demonize all of us. It’s pretty obvious that won’t work. Now the latest tendency is to demonize Salafis. I am not one and I am not crazy about them, but criminals and Muslims are individuals. It’s wrong to jump on Western crazes of the moment to push ideas that generalize and categorize Muslims. A principle feature of Islam is that we tolerate difference. The ones in Iraq and Syria are violating our traditions when they fight over sectarian difference. But my understanding is they are deeper differences hiding underneath. I will stop but please be reasonable. You are a highly intelligent man. Do you really believe you can create a methodology and cause a billion Muslims to follow you and leave the madhabs? You know the Salafis are out of the question and so are the Shia. You think we will leave our shieks for your “critical progressive” approach? I read you because you wouldn’t simply say what you mean, but after you get people to click your sites and read you, do you really think we will leave the Four Imams for you? Are you being rational?

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    am I sorry but there is little substance to your arguments…the classical islamic tradition and the knowledge it stands on has always been and continues to be contested. you seem to conflate the classical islamic theological and legal theories ( plural) into one and also conflate them with what Islam ever was or can ever possibly be . you have failed to provide any compelling arguments for these. again, i have spend 15 years of my life to come to this conclusion not an hour or two….

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    There are classical positions. They have existed for centuries. They have been challenged and the challengers have come and gone over time and this is what has established the Four Madhabs as the classical positions. There were many more than four madhabs back then. The present challenge to classical Islamic theology would be the Salafis and the extremists who turn ultra conservative interpretations into violent theological practice. There is literally no viable challenge to the classical interpretations from the left, mainly because the Quran allows for difference (109:6). In many parts of the world, there are no Salafi mosques, but they have Salafis who come into orthodox mosques with the resulting fitna. In my experience, I have never seen a mosque where there is a left-wing, progressive faction that has ever challenged a mosque’s leadership. My argument is that a Muslim’s duty is to honestly convey what Islam is today. To make arguments about what Islam should be is an exercise in fantasy. The enemies of Islam lie about what we are. To talk about what we should be, totally outside of established (classical) Islamic institutions clouds the important work of informing the world about what Islam truly is. You task me with making a compelling argument. My answer is the vast majority of the world’s Muslims share a core set of beliefs. I am addressing what we are and what we believe today to the best of my meager abilities. I will even grant you are more knowledgable than I (mainly because a basic part of Islam is humility). It is not me or any ordinary Muslim you have to supersede. Obviously the classical position has been established by people who have studied their entire lives. So your amount of study is not a compelling factor. Either you are orthodox and follow the classic positions….or you do not. After all your study, you have to decide what agenda you push. You yourself dodge directly saying you do not follow classical Islam and that you reject hadeeth….because you know it means instant rejection of your position by the vast majority of Muslims. There’s an old saying that goes, if you have to hide, then internally you are showing you see something wrong with what you are doing. Drop the big words. You follow hadeeth and the classical four Imams, Shia or ultra conservative Salafis…or you do not. Calling everyone dumb who doesn’t go along won’t convince us. I repeat. Please use your abilities to tell the world what Muslims believe…as opposed to what you want Muslims to believe. You inflate yourself in a bad way if you think we will leave the Four Imams and hadeeth for you.

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    you have to first realise that there are many the interpretational presuppositions that govern classical madhahib manahij-if you read my work on QUHAS you will find out what they are . the approach to hadith and SUNNA by imam malik is VER Y DIFFERENT from that of Ibn hanbal …. the appraoch to hadith by Hanafi usulis is VERY DIFFERENT from Hanafi muhadithun…..mu’tazila are very different from Asharis….once you realise this you will also accept that ijma’a of classical scholars is not binding A PRIORI on the rest of us…indeed there is no IJMA’a on this question of the status IJMA itself.nor is there IJMA”A on the nature of IJMA” ( is it generational , issue specific etc.) …i consider myself , like professors Khaled ABou EL Fadl, Ebrahim Moosa, Farid Esack , Tariq Ramadan to name but a few a proponent of critical traditionalism ( under contested concept) for reasons I state in my scholarship……

  • maintour@yahoo.com' MainTour says:

    There is a big flaw in Mr Azad’s essay here where he claims that Wahhabi (and its most recent offshoot, ISIS) are both a misinterpreation of islam. When you cross-check it to Wikipedia, however, you find today it has over 5 million adherents throughout the Gulf Coast States and by his own admission here is the dominant religion of the state of Saudi Arabia. Who are we to believe is telling us the true doctrine of Islam? Mr Azad or the thousands of highly trained and educated scholars of Wahhabi in Arabia?

    Most of the followers of Wahhabi are devout students of this religion. The vast majority of their converts are those actively explore the doctrines of islam and attend the madrassas. Of all the groups of Islam, the Wahhabi’s are described as “orthodox”, “ultraconservative” and “puritan” in their adherance to the principals of Muhammed. Of all the branches of Islam, it is the one that has seen the most explosive growth in the last two centuries. How can Mr Azad be right when so many (5 million) devout Muslims believe otherwise? Especially when it appears that this is the group that most carefully studies the doctrine?

    “By their fruits you shall know whether a religion is good or evil”. And here the “fruits/proofs” are running quite contrary to Mr Azad’s statements.

  • maintour@yahoo.com' MainTour says:

    You say that ISIS and The Saudis are not allies, but ISIS gets most of its support (manpower, recruits, doctrines and financial backing) from Saudis and the like-minded Qataris, centers of Wahhabism.

  • maintour@yahoo.com' MainTour says:

    At least those two groups don’t preach genocide and terrorism of other religious groups.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    So do we need another Crusade to wipe them out?

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    usul = methdology
    hermeneutics = interpretation
    madhabs = schools of thought that say exactly what is permissible, forbidden and mandatory for Muslims.

    Please quit hiding behind the big words.

    Don’t you be dead meat for the vultures.

    Muslims are what we are. Don’t hide behind big words because you do not like major facets of Islam. Funding from non Muslims because you write papers saying you are a Muslim who wants to change Islam as it is practiced today is not the straight path and such funding does not make you smart or sincere in your search for closeness to God. The simple fact is you want to change the metrics we use to interpret Islam. If you call the Shia, the Salafis, the Sufis and the Four Madhads “many, then we have many approaches to our usul The madhabs I just cited make up over 99% of the entire fiqh for the world’s Muslims. Your use of “very” when you say “very different” is subjective. The four schools have courteous and accepted iktilaf (disagreement).

    Is there a single mosque in the entire world that practices what you preach here? There are millions of mosques all over the world. when your ideas control 100 mosques the world will develop a simple name for them and you will be front page news…because before the Salafis, it hadn’t happened in hundreds of years (if you believe like I do that Salfis and Wahabis are the same thing). We know who the Salafis are. We have a simple name for them. We know their founder. They have mosques and funding to spread their ideology. Does your usul have these features? This is how simple it really is.Without these features which exist inside the Muslim world, you are merely engaged in anti-Muslim fantasy as a way to entertain non Muslims. Papers and a Ph.D are not an Islamic movement.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    PS…the latest on Dr. Ramadan is he went off (excuse the black talk) Dr.Ramadan went off on ISNA because they are not as passionate about Palestine as he thinks they should be. I am for change and you are right that as humans we debate change. The difference in you and me is that for me and most of the rest of us, theology is untouchable. I believe we should change our politics! We don’t need to leave the hadeeth. We need to leave the idea that every time Hamas does the stupid thing, we have to defend them because they are Muslims. We are learning, with al qaeda being the primary teacher, that we can’t stand with bad Muslims or Muslims who do ignorant things for political purposes. Politics and government is more developed in the West. If we simply improve our politics, our PR problem is solved. Your work is a green light to those who say our religion is defective and most of us, who are emotionally connected to our faith, simply will never buy into your arguments. There are those Muslims who have emotional political positions but my argument is easy and sound. Palestine is not my god and I am not commanded to worship a state as a condition of being a Muslim. For most of us, to reject hadeeth, is to reject the Prophet. I think my argument has a better chance than yours.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    I am pretty regular here. In the West, there is special negative treatment for Muslims…it’s worse than being black in America. Some people get bad treatment…the modern counter technique is to deny it.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    Main I go from the Ph.D guy to you and it is not pleasant. Please visit a mosque and talk to Muslms in the real world. If you knew anything about Islam, you would know that Saudi Arabia is a MAJOR US ally. Their from of government is directly threatened by ISIS and the proof is that when you see the major Islamic scholars making public statements condemning any group, that’s a pretty simple and clear indicator that said group is not getting support from that government. Your words here show you tend to lump all Muslims into a simple group. That is what we call prejudice and you it because you are talking about people who happen not to be white. Please visit a mosque near you (Islamicfinder.org) and show me you are not just another white bigot.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    I am pretty regular here. In the West, there is special negative treatment for Muslims…it’s worse than being black in America. Some people get bad treatment…the modern counter technique is to deny it.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I haven’t seen one article on RD that was more critical of Islam than the stuff I’ve seen on Mormonism.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    you did not get it…or you are a paid troll. What he said was that ISIS “gets its inspiration from Wahabi Islam” There are not five million adherents to ISIS. There are five million ultra conservative Muslims in the Gulf states. Being ultra conservative is not a crime.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    you are giving me links that say the same thing over and over and what you show is you are ignoring basic Islamic principles. Madhabs use the same hadeeth as Salafis. The Four Imams and the scholars that have come after them use hadeeths. Sunnis are the people of hadeeth. To say there is a difference regarding the exact time frame in order to qualify as Salaf as salih, is quibbling over a minor detail. All Muslims look back to the Prophet and those who surrounded him. Shia look back to Ali and his household, while Sunnis look back to the Rashidun. It’s a basic principle in Islam that is found in all religions. Christians look back to Jesus. You are writing these long long things, that really don’t say anything. In Islam the same word can have several different meanings depending solely on its context. There is Salafi the movement and then there are the salaf, who are the righteous early Muslims. Most of us are not in the movement, but we all respect and look back when it is time to figure out a matter that is not explicitly spelled out in the Quran. The joke is, the Salafi movement has scholars, so they do go to third parties to figure out modern issues. The reject Sunni and Shia scholars as illegitimate third parties, yet they have their own third parties…many on the internet broadcasting from Saudi or somewhere else in the Gulf. I am a Muslim and practicing Muslims have a working knowledge of Salafism. Your articles are a bit stale and sheds no new light.

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    as you (should) know ( and as i told you before) the way the four mainstream madhhabs use hadith ( and define sunna) differs significantly from the ahl-hadith madhahab but also there are important differences within the 4 madhahib. having said that , the last link explains that , for reasons I outlined in the article, ALL of the classical madhahib have a SALAFI WOLRDVIEW ( re-read what I mean by this ) which prevents it from being critical, dynamic and interpretationally flexible apart from very limited ikhtilaf that is most of the time inconsequential. the truth is , most of classical madhahib manahij have either lost their rationale or rely on outdated methodologies..we need new taqlid……that is not to say that there is nothing valuable in them but that we should approach them in a critical and constructive manner as done by critical-progressives….

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    We use the SAME hadeeths from the same sources…if the Salafis were interpreting them exactly as Sunnis do, they would be Sunni. We have the same sources and only differ on interpretation.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    please be rational. you are like a catholic who doesn’t like the pope. Muslims are what we are. There is NO progressive Muslim movement, except in internet world. Can you tell me where there are three mosques in all the world that subscribe to the ideas you go on and on about? ….in the whole world where there are millions of mosques?

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    below my math is messed up! Five million out of two billion is…twenty million is one percent…so we are talking about ONE QUARTER OF ONE PERCENT????

    But your prejudiced self is here trying to show us how they are representative of two billion people…like I said, I am so perplexed and have no answer for why so many whites are so stuck on prejudice.

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    how says that i am trying to ‘create another movement” ? -maybe i am just trying to transform the existing …..the fact that something does not exist now does not mean that it will never exist…… the critical-progressive Muslim discourse is restricted for the time being mainly to the Muslims in the academia although I know of many non academic muslims who subscribe to it………

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    THANK YOU for admitting you are living in fantasy land and going on and on about a religion that does not exist. Let me know when you want to practice and discuss real Islam. Or if you wish, there is big big money in going to churches and telling them how you are an ex-Muslim.

  • adisduderija@gmail.com' Adis Duderija says:

    unfortunately this comment of yours testifies to the fact that you have not really learnt anything from our exchanges and hence I shall no longer comment.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    PS…the latest on Dr. Ramadan is he went off (excuse the black talk) Dr.Ramadan went off on ISNA because they are not as passionate about Palestine as he thinks they should be. I am for change and you are right that as humans we debate change. The difference in you and I is that for me and most of the rest of us, theology is untouchable. I believe we should change our politics! We don’t need to leave the hadeeth. We need to leave the idea that every time Hamas does the stupid thing, we have to defend them because they are Muslims. We are learning, with al qaeda being the primary teacher, that we can’t stand with bad Muslims or Muslims who do ignorant things for political purposes. Politics and government is more developed in the West. If we simply improve our politics, our PR problem is solved. Your work is a green light to those who say our religion is defective and most of us, who are emotionally connected to our faith, simply will never buy into your arguments. There are those Muslims who have emotional political positions but my argument is easy and sound. Palestine is not my god and I am not commanded to worship a state as a condition of being a Muslim. For most of us, to reject hadeeth is to reject the Prophet. I think my argument has a better chance than yours.

  • GregAbdul@comcast.net' GregAbdul says:

    We use the SAME hadeeths from the same sources…if the Salafis were interpreting them exactly as Sunnis do, they would be Sunni. We have the same sources and only differ on interpretation. Your opinion, not followed by any major Muslim group is that we all have a “Salafi worldview.” For ah lal Sunnah wal Jammah, we are plenty dynamic enough. I told you, this is simple. The Salafis have a simple label, mosques all over the world, a dissemination network and massive funding. They are impacting Muslims worldwide. Does your usul have these features? I can sit online, create websites and make up a religion. That is NOT a movement. There is no progressive Islamic movement. There are the orthodox and the ultra conservatives. You need to choose a side or get out of the game. I am not looking for you to create an Islam for me and I am absolutely positive no one at my mosque is either.

  • elizavieta@embarqmail.com' eliza says:

    You don’t have to be a raving beheader in the name of your religion to be a threat. Anyone who is a theocrat with utopian ideas of establishing a heavenly kingdom upon earth is a threat. The pursuit of perfection mows down multitudes.

  • villabolo@yahoo.com' Villabolo says:

    Look at the example of Mary Dyer who was hung by the neck by the Puritans in Massachusetts for the crime of being a Quaker – a different religion than theirs.

  • elizavieta@embarqmail.com' eliza says:

    Yes, the Puritans were trying to establish a purified, “New” England, naming towns for the old impure one. It is the same utopian, tribal impulse to kill the other. One of the several reasons for killing one’s fellow humans, somewhere between fighting over food and land grabbing.

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