The last couple of weeks has put me at a loss for words. We’ve seen American journalists and British aid workers beheaded by ISIL. We’ve heard about two Bosnian teenage girls joining ISIL and the horror/ confusion from their western parents living in Austria at learning of their death. We’ve learned that Kurds and Yazidis are still fleeing in the tens of thousands from Syria into Turkey or Iraq into Kurdish Iraq. Many of those who don’t flee are killed in mass graves. Homes, churches, religious shrines are regularly destroyed, all in the name of Islam.
I am not a Muslim. Therefore, I am ill qualified to declare whether ISIL is distorting Islam or if they are acting upon what most religious leaders declare as the true interpretation of the Qur’an. So far, I have heard the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the UK state that ISIL does not represent Islam. While I would like to agree with them, I feel they are also ill qualified for making such a statement. Considering the mass successful recruitment that ISIS is conducting, I doubt these would be ‘Jihadist’ agree with our leaders.
I have seen postings equating ISIL to the KKK. I like this analogy, but it has its flaws. Was the KKK representative of Christianity? Not Christianity as a whole, but it was representative of the major Christian Churches in the southeastern United States, namely the Southern Baptists which was the largest protestant denomination. What was unique is that the KKK is largely gone because our religious leaders, civic leaders and the people of our country stood up against bigotry and hatred to enact laws and teach about equality and freedom for all.
I understand there are many rivalries in the Middle East, like Turk vs. Persian, Arab vs. Kurd, Shia vs. Sunni, Dictators vs. the Muslim Brotherhood. Until Islamic leadership from around the world, including Sunni Imams, denounces ISIL as being an aberration that is twisting Islamic laws and teachings, it is hard for me to come to the conclusion that ISIL is not acting based upon Islamic edicts. The coalition the west is trying to put together with the countries around Syria and Iraq has been less than lukewarm. Having Islamic religious leader support could galvanize a stronger coalition. But alas, Hell is unlikely to freeze over anytime soon.
I have seen a few self critical articles in the last month from the Arab media. Maybe it is related to discontent with the status quo between old rivalries or it is the disdain of humanity’s disintegration in the Middle East. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the region is at an all time low, see: