During the holy month of Ramadan, followers of ISIS believe that the reward for committing acts of terrorism is greater than any other time of the year. However, according to MSU Religious Studies and Islamic Thought Professor Mohammad Khalil, for most Muslims Ramadan is a time of celebration, not terror.
“There’s a certain level of disappointment and disgust with what we see with ISIS and these terror attacks. Ramadan is you know for most Muslims a very special time. You could compare it maybe to the christmas time here, it’s a festive time,” Khalil said.
The Independent reports that in countries other than Syria with significant Muslim populations, at most 15% have a favorable view of ISIS. Syria is at 21%, while most of the other countries polled under 10%.
“One thing about ISIS we have to be very clear about is that people tend to oversimplify it. They’ll say ‘oh, ISIS has nothing to do with religion, or has nothing to do with politics,’ and the reality is that it’s complicated. There is a dimension of religion there, but it’s an interpretation of Islam not shared by the vast majority of muslims,” Khalil said.
The Imam or the person who leads prayers at the mosque here in East Lansing, Sohail Chaudhry, brought up passage 5:32 from the Quran and described it as the “central theme” of Islam.
“Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.”
Some skepticism may come from passages in the Quran like 5:33 which translates:
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.”
However, the following passage 5:34 follows up on the passage before it:
“Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
Imam Chaudhry thinks that terrorist groups like ISIS take passages written in specific historical contexts and applies them to all situations.
“They take those verses and they generalize them in all situations and I think you can do that to any scripture of the world and that would be a gross injustice to that scripture,” Imam Chaudhry said.
Although it is clear that ISIS is a radical group that is unrepresentative of the world’s Muslim population, they are still a threat. TIME reported that leaders of ISIS most likely did not orchestrate all of the recent Ramadan-related attacks. Rather, the acts were likely committed by individual followers of ISIS or ‘lone wolves.’
MSU International Relations professor, Matthew Zierler does not foresee success in ISIS’ future, due to their ‘lone wolf’ operative.
“Any successful terrorist movement has always had a political end goal. They often would be some sort of new country or political independence or something. We see that I guess in the big ISIS idea, it’s not clear that that filters down all the way to the individual level. The individual committing an act of terrorism in the UK: what’s that gonna do?” Zierler said.
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