We must fight ISIL in youth forums
The voices within the Muslim world opposing the aberration that is ISIL are growing stronger. July saw the formation of the Muslim Council of Elders, a UAE initiative that brought together 14 distinguished Islamic scholars from across the world to condemn the false rhetoric of religious extremists and fundamentalists. This week, 126 Muslim scholars issued an open letter to ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi pointing out in great detail that his group’s actions are not in accordance with Sharia. This comes hot on the heels of a call from Queen Rania of Jordan on the need to counter ISIL’s messages of hate.
These initiatives should be welcomed and embraced by all who cherish religious faith and peace. As Sheikh Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, Egyptian grand imam and Muslim Council of Elders member has said, it is essential to condemn those people who “pretend to be Muslim [but] are spreading chaos and terrorism”. But as important and truthful as the words of these men of faith and learning are, their message is not getting through to all the young men and women whose minds are being poisoned by ISIL propaganda.
In parts of the UK and continental Europe, where teenagers and young adults are at risk of radicalisation, the call to “jihad” is being made through social media, online videos and peer-group conversations over mobile apps. The voices of moderate imams are not being heard by the disaffected video-game generation who believe that joining ISIL is an adventure to support their faith rather than a perversion of it.
Many of these recruits from the West are not particularly familiar with the Quran, which makes them vulnerable to out-of-context or invented quotations and “sound bites” posted on the internet by ISIL and its ilk. As this newspaper has argued before, we must fight ISIL on many fronts. Messages of hate must be countered by the voices of reason, moderation and truth. Imams and scholars are rising to the challenge, but it’s imperative that all of us, especially those who can connect with the younger generation, speak out for their religion and against ISIL in the forums where the truth can be heard by those who need it most.
Updated: November 27, 2014 04:00 AM