CHARLOTTE, NC, July 21, 2014 – In an ironic twist of conventional thinking, Middle East specialist Raymond Ibrahim says that the West could get a temporary reprieve from the vicious violence of the Islamic State. The operative word is “temporary” but it does carry significant meaning.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the current leader of the Islamic State (formally ISIS or ISIL). He adopted the name Abu Bakr because it was Abu Bakr al-Sadiq who became the first caliph in 632 following the death of the prophet Muhammad.
According to Ibrahim, a question was asked on one of the Islamic State websites as to why they are not fighting Israel “instead (of) shedding the blood of Iraq and Syria?”
The response was both fascinating and telling. “The greater answer is in the noble Koran, when Allah Almighty speaks about the near enemy. In the majority of verses in the noble Koran, these are the hypocrites, for they pose a greater danger than the original infidels (born non-Muslims, e.g., Jews and Christians). And the answer is found in Abu Bakr al-Sadiq, when he preferred fighting apostates over the conquest of Jerusalem , which was conquered by his successor, Omar al-Khattab.”
In other words, the Islamic State is more concerned about Muslims who have rejected Islam than those who are already non-believers.
As Ibrahim notes, when Muhammad died, many people of the Arabian tribes who had converted to Islam attempted to revert back to their original faith. In so doing Abu Bakr al-Sadiq’s primary concern was waging jihad upon the apostates, the people who renounced Islam. Abu Bakr’s “jihad” was known as the apostasy wars.
Ibrahim continues by pointing out that is was the second caliph, Omar al-Khattab, who began the quest against the so-called “original infidels” which make up the groups that are primarily the targets of extremism today.
Thus, if the Islamic State focuses upon apostates, then other faiths not in the proximity of their terror get a temporary, but welcome, breather from their brutality.
As an addendum, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is among the most influential Islamic clerics according to Ibrahim, once stated that “If the (death) penalty for apostasy was ignored, there would not be an Islam today; Islam would have ended on the death of the prophet.”
The logic behind al-Qaradawi’s statement is important because it goes to the heart of what most Westerners like to call “moderate Muslims.” Many of those “moderate” Muslims are moderate because they were never members of the religion in the first place. They were coerced into it after being conquered and had little choice other than to relent in order to survive.
Over time, generation after generation of people were born into Islam without knowing or understanding the true tenets of the religion. As a practical matter, converting was more a means of self-preservation than anything else.
Those are the people most feared by the Islamic State because it is they who have the ability to overcome Islam from within. At the same time, however, fear is a major factor in subverting them. Therefore, the goal of the Islamic State is to either keep moderates in line or to re-subjugate previous converts back to Islam.
One important cautionary note. The key word is “temporary.” Non-Muslims in the Middle East where the Islamic State is in power are still not safe. It simply means they may not be the primary targets. Collateral or residual consequences remain and retain a high percentage of possibility.
Muslims killings Muslims is no more acceptable than Muslims killing infidels. That said, if the Islamic State is focusing on bringing its lost sheep back to the herd, it translates to more time for Israel and the West to determine the best methods of dealing with the problem.
The real tragedy, of course, is that, in the West at least, the relative calm in the interim will probably be regarded as a resolution to the problem rather than a continuation of it.
Therefore, in the long run, we will be no better equipped to deal with extremism in the future than we are today.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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