The ISIS takfiris use Islamic rhetoric to attract gullible and frustrated Muslim youth to their ranks. Their fraud must be exposed to deal with them effectively.
The murderous ways of Da‘ish/ISIS are no secret. They upload videos on the internet of people they are about to slaughter, literally like animals. And they take pride in such macabre rituals even while those being killed are often reciting the shahadah. According to a well-known hadith of the noble Messenger (pbuh), a person who recites the shahadah, his honor, property and life become sacrosanct (al-Bukhari). So how can people that claim to be Muslims indulge in such barbaric practices?
According to a well-known hadith of the noble Messenger (pbuh), a person who recites the shahadah, his honor, property and life become sacrosanct (al-Bukhari). So how can people that claim to be Muslims indulge in such barbaric practices?
Let us identify the people and their possible motives for joining the terrorist outfits. There is no single group or ethnicity that represents the takfiris. They are from all backgrounds although evidence suggests that the bulk of their cadres come from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Others attracted to the terrorist groups include Chechens mostly residing outside the Caucasus, Algerians, Tunisians, Libyans, Egyptians, Syrians, a sprinkling of Afghans and Pakistanis, and of course Muslims born and raised in Europe. There is also a tiny contingent from North America — US and Canada — but despite official propaganda that they constitute a serious threat to their societies, the number of North Americans is very small. There are also converts — men and women — among those that have joined the takfiris.
What attracts them to join the takfiri brigades? Those from the Muslim world are frustrated by lack of opportunities in their societies because they are ruled by dictators — whether wearing military uniforms, flowing robes or civilian clothes — who are all subservient to imperialism and Zionism. There is gross mismanagement and rampant corruption. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 23% of youth in the Muslim East are unemployed. The actual figure may be much higher. People have little or no say in how the society is governed. By joining the takfiris, the embittered and frustrated youth feel empowered. There is, however, a lot more to the takfiris’ allure even if it is entirely misplaced.
By claiming to have established the Khilafah (the Islamic state) with a Khalifah (even an American-Zionist agent), the takfiris have created the impression that they are responding to a cherished desire of the Muslims since the institution was abolished in 1924. Now, the Khalifah can “declare” jihad against non-Muslims! Second, by declaring the Khilafah in parts of Syria and Iraq, the takfiris claim they have abolished the borders imposed by colonialist powers under the Sykes-Picot agreement a century ago. This wipes out, even if temporarily, the humiliation of 100 years. No regime in the Muslim East has been able to “achieve” anything close; instead, they have lost precious Muslim land — the Holy Land including al-Quds — to the Zionists after repeated defeats in numerous wars.
The Muslim youth born and raised in the West who have joined the takfiris feel a deep sense of alienation because of rampant racism and Islamophobia in these societies. This is particularly true in Britain, France and Germany. Other European countries are little better. The same goes for North America. Such racism has become even more pronounced since 9/11. Add to that the humiliation inflicted on Muslims — many of them completely innocent — in places like Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo Bay and a host of black sites around the globe, and the alienated Muslim youth feel they can get back at the West by joining the takfiris. This also explains why they feel no compunction in beheading western captives even though Islam expressly forbids such acts.
The takfiris are financed by groups and individuals in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a host of other countries in the Muslim East even though officially the regimes claim they are opposed to such funding. Many disgruntled youth have had their brains polluted by Wahhabism, which considers anyone who does not subscribe to its erroneous interpretation of Islam a kafir or mushrik and, therefore, legitimate target for elimination. This demented thinking can be traced all the way to Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab who first espoused such views in 1744–1745. That such thinking would gain adherents or currency today is the direct result of the billions of dollars spent in spreading Wahhabism globally.
Committed Muslims have an obligation to rescue Islam from the clutches of these demons. This has to be done first and foremost at the intellectual level by exposing the takfiris’ deviant ideology. While some scholars in the Muslim world have spoken out against them, many more need to go public with deconstructing the deviant ideology. Second, those financing the takfiris must be relentlessly exposed, starting with the regime in Saudi Arabia that is the source of so much fitnah in the world. Like the Zionists, there should be an official boycott of the Saudi regime.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought