by Ghassan Kadi

I will again reiterate, in this very first sentence, that Islam is a religion of wisdom and peace. But this same approach did not stop critics in the past from throwing accusations that I was insulting Islam and the Holy Quran, and I am certain that similar accusations will be made now.

In reality however, those who are insulting Islam the most are the Muslims who commit violence in its name, and the other Muslims who are refusing to show how and where the Quran refutes and prohibits violence.

If we opt to be explicit here, and we should, the first group are the “takfiri” Jihadi fighters who belong to a myriad of organizations, and the second group are the mainstream Muslims, and their clerics, who are either unable or unwilling to challenge the Daesh doctrine, or both.

For let us be clear. The mainstream Muslim theology, that of both Sunnis and Shia,  and that of Wahhabism,  Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood and Daesh are all based on exactly the same misinterpretations of the Holy Quran.

The only difference between the various mainstream branches and institutions is in the application. Wahhabis and Daesh put this theology into practice by making it the law of the land; and they enact it, to the letter. Other “milder” schools of mainstream Islam do not do so, but yet believe in the same distorted understandings of Jihad, Fateh and Shahada; and these are the main culprits in the Islam-turned-wrong-turned-terrorist syndrome.

And here we must fair and make a clear distinction between the radical Muslims, and those who are not, because there is absolutely no offense here meant to the benign peace-loving Muslims wo do not and will not accept the implement the draconian laws of Wahhabism and Daesh.

These “moderate” Muslims are in fact the over whelming majority. They must be sick and tired to see themselves being put by Muslims haters in the same basket as that of Daesh. This critique is not to be seen as it is made against them, but against the ideology that has been passed on to them by their forefathers. In saying this, I also know that no matter how hard I try in drawing the distinction between ideology and individuals, I will also be accused of insulting all Muslims.

On another count, Daesh seems bound to receive a good whacking and massive military defeat in both Syria and Iraq, but it seems to be on the rise in Libya and the EU.  It is clearly an ever-moving beast that can germinate anywhere anytime. All it needs is the presence of the doctrine that feeds it. Sponsors come next.

There is little point burying heads in the sand in hope and/or pretense that this is not the stark reality.

To fight Daesh militarily is one thing, therefore, and to fight it ideologically is something else.

There is a moral imperative on those who want to fight Daesh militarily. In theory, they need to be able to demonstrate that their own history and actions are more humane. The unprecedented brutality of Daesh however has perhaps dropped this requirement. Anyone and any military power can fight Daesh militarily if it wishes to do so, just. In more ways than one, this is “acceptable” to some degree, and for as long as the fight sticks to the objective of targeting Daesh and only Daesh, and this was why the Syrian Government gave a tacit support to its mortal enemy, the West, when the decision was made to hit Daesh back in September 2014 and long before the Russian intervention.

But to fight Daesh ideologically, morality stipulates that no one has the right to do so unless he has the philosophical and moral upper ground that is capable of providing an antithesis.

If the Daesh theology were to be challenged, many cans of worms will be opened, and not just one, and not at all necessarily chronologically in accordance with the order below.

One can of worms will come from well-intentioned protagonists of freedom of worship and expression. This group of people is mostly comprised of idealistic Western activists. By and large, they mean well but they have no idea at all as to who they are defending when they defend mosques that are preaching hatred and generating the breed of bombers and mass murderers that the EU has recently seen.

Another one will come from ultra-right wing Neo-Nazis. These people will capitalise on the anti-Muslim sentiment. They will see it as a tool to serve their objectives, and this is already happening in the EU. Conservative groups are having a surge in their popularity.

A third one will come from Evangelical and Christian preachers who will see in this an opportunity to prove that Christianity is better than Islam. Evangelists are in fact already making inroads into Syria as well as other regions in the hope of signing up new recruits. They will cloak themselves in the guise of Syrian supporters and talk their way into the minds of unsuspecting followers. The irony here is that some of them have a history in being Christian-Zionists, who suddenly switched their support and devotion from Israel to Syria.

Even Shia Muslims will open their own can of worms and proclaim that they are “the real Muslims” who have properly interpreted the Holy Quran and who follow its message. They will, and already have, brought to the forefront some ancient Sunni-Shia debate points, all in the attempt of showing that their own understanding is based on the proper message that has been passed on by Ahl Al-Beit (ie the People of the House, or in other words the descendent of Mohamed PBUH), as against the message that was distorted by his Sahaba (companions) who founded Sunni Islam. But in reality, the misinterpretations that lend themselves to violence are common to both Sunnis and Shia.

And no doubt we should never forget the can of worms of Western hypocrisy. This hypocrisy has shown its face on many occasions recently. The worst was perhaps in the appearance of Netanyahu in Paris marching with protesters after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. And to exacerbate the hypocrisy, who was walking right behind him? None but PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, but that’s another story.

And this is not to absolve from the hypocrisy the NATO member nations from their “hostility” towards Daesh on one hand, and helping it come to fruition and continuing to feed it and fight the only ones who are fighting it on the other hand.

The last can of worms will come from Muslim Sunnis who do not like Daesh and who believe that Daesh is giving Sunni Islam a very foul and tainted image.  They will argue that any attempts to put any form of blame on mainstream Islam is out of line. They will continue to reiterate that the Daesh ideology does not represent Islam, and it doesn’t, but they will fall short of saying what real Islam is; because they do not know what real Islam is.

The above cans of worms, or simply obstacles, are not hypothetical at all, as every time the subject of understanding the true nature of Daesh and the doctrine that underpins it is mentioned, all of the above surfaces in one way or another.

For as long as the above obstacles are in the way, the subject of challenging the Daesh ideology cannot be resolved, let alone discussed, and not even mentioned from a realistic perspective.

If we were to honestly dissect and elaborate the essence of those obstacles in a manner that gives us clues as how to eliminate them and get them out of the way, we will clearly reach the following simple conclusions:

  1. The West: The West does not have the moral upper ground needed for thwarting the Daesh ideology. It does not have either an antithesis to confront Daesh with, nor an ability to prove that Daesh does not represent real Islam, as it (ie the West) keeps regurgitating.
  2. The Pro-Freedom Activists: As this argument is neither about the funding of Daesh nor about manipulating it to fight the dirty war of the Empire, as instead it is about the specific ideology that gives Daesh and its sponsors the momentum needed for recruitment, the idealists do not distinguish between the two. When one tries to educate them, they shower him with insults and accusations of Neo-Nazism and Islamophobia.  Personally, I haven’t been able to make a single breakthrough in the minds of those people despite many articles I have written, and despite public and private discussions. Those people claim to be progressive forward thinkers, but they are stuck in their mental constructs more than KKK members are, with the difference that they veil their views with glossy humane and attractive slogans that are at total odds with reality and rationality. We need to reach the conclusion that these activists are not in a position to partake in any rational resolution to the Daesh issue.
  3. Russia: Whilst Russia has thus far provided the biggest military package to fight Daesh with, it has not made any representation that it endeavors to challenge the Daesh ideology per se. Long gone are the days of the USSR when Marxism was a “religion” of its own, and right now, even if Russia opts to challenge the doctrine of Daesh, what would it do it with? In summary, the Russian intervention in the war against Daesh is merely military, and should stay as such.
  4. Evangelists: Western Evangelists who are riding on the bandwagon of Islamophobia and sheer hatred towards Islam are the best example of those who see the speck of dust in the eye of others but refuse to see the log in their own eye. For them to use the rise of Daesh as an opportunity is a cheap ploy indeed. They should try to get a better understanding of Christianity instead. Once again, the inclusion of this group of people in the debate against the Daesh ideology is totally inappropriate to say the least.
  5. Shia: Ever since the split happened in Islam and two sects were formed, Sunnis and Shia, as mentioned above, the Shia claimed to have the spiritual upper hand in understanding Islam and accused the Sunni clerics of perpetuating the false message that was passed by Mohamed’s followers (Sahaba). And whilst both sects differ on a number of issues, in as far as the matters that are pertinent to the application of the law of Sharia and the understandings of the concepts of Jihad, Fateh and Shahada, there is virtually no difference at all. What is important to note is that it is the misunderstanding of those particular concepts what gives rise to violence in the name of Islam. If this violence is now perpetrated by Sunnis, in the future it can become one perpetrated by Shia. There is no guarantee that it won’t. Shia and Shiite theology are therefore in the same basket as Sunni theology and are incapable of providing an antithesis to confront Daesh with.
  6. Sunnis: The above elimination process, as it were, leaves us with Muslims in general and Sunnis in particular. In reality, if Muslims, especially Sunnis are unable to understand their religion properly, be able to clearly see the failings of the archaic interpretations they inherited from their forefathers, then no one can

The problem is that the Quran has not been properly interpreted; not even in Arabic. So where can one find a different reading of the Holy Quran? A reading that enables them to have a look at the word of the Quran from a perspective that does not and cannot give rise to Daesh-like ideologies? Some may legitimately ask. They can try this link, but it is not one that is “recognized”. But of course it is entirely up to them to discern if it makes sense or not:

Muslim scholars, Sunni and Shia, will probably disagree with the reading given in the Circle Of Beauty page, but they have an onus to look, and if they disagree, they also have the onus to present their own argument as to why they disagree.

In the end, we go back to where we started. As far as violence in religion is concerned, all Abrahamic religious institutions are equally culpable. Wars have been fought in the name of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. To single out Islam and have it branded as a religion that advocates violence is wrong, especially when such a statement is made to further personal and religious gains of Islam haters.

Yes, there is a huge onus on Muslims to understand Islam and put it into practice. No one else can but them. But before one criticizes Daesh or Islam, he has to look deep inside and see the log in his own eye. For a thesis that is based on ignorance and evil to be confronted, it needs an antithesis that is based on knowledge.

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world