Obama's Peculiar Position on the Islamic State

As a former Muslim, I challenge the president's position on Islam.

USA-ESTONIA/In his speech addressed to the UN general assembly, Barak Hussein Obama said, “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones killing innocents.” He also stated, “ISIS is hiding behind a false Islam.” We know about Mr. Obama’s admiration for Islam.  The following are a few of his statements:

·         “The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer.”

·         “We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country” (i.e., USA, not Kenya).

·         “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.”

·         “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.”

·         “Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality.”

·         “I look forward to hosting an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan here at the White House.”

In addition to the above, he has also made many unfounded statements such as, “Islam has always been a part of America’s story.” And In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.”

Does Obama really know Islam better than Muslims?

If Islam is as wonderful as Obama says, why did he leave it? He did leave Islam, didn’t he? He was raised Muslim and, therefore, it seems strange that one could have such a high admiration of a religion that one no longer believes in.

It is also quite strange that Obama does not seem to have the same admiration for the faith that he now claims to be a part of. He has said with sarcasm,

“Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?  Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination?  Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith?”

Of course the Qur'an is full of verses instructing the believers to slay the unbelievers, cut their heads from above their necks and be harsh with them. But Mr. Obama chooses to ignore all that. Instead, he emphasizes, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.”

Obama's opinion about Islam is also highly problematic.  ISIS is indeed very much Islamic. Al Baqdadi, the self-appointed caliph of Islamic State, was, like Obama, also born and raised as a Muslim, but unlike Obama he has a PhD in Islamic Law. And a great number of Muslims agree with his interpretation of Islam.  ISIS is now enjoying increasing shows of solidarity from the Middle East and from across the Muslim world – and also from Western countries.  Watch this politician on an interview on a Jordanian television passionately endorsing IS while shouting,

There is nothing such as ‘ISIS ideology’ – It is Islam. … if these Muslims are terrorists, I salute those terrorists. I salute the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”

These Muslims know their religion. There is nothing that Islamic State is doing that is un-Islamic. They follow the Sunnah (examples set by their prophet) to the letter. Muhammad raided villages and towns, destroyed temples, massacred his captives, enslaved and sold their women, tortured his enemies, and as he repeatedly bragged, he cast terror in the hearts of unbelievers.

IS has also been condemned by some Muslims. Take the example of Maqdesi, a supporter of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, who criticized the Islamic State group for its brutal methods. "Is this caliphate a sanctuary for the vulnerable and a refuge for all Muslims, or a sword hanging over those Muslims who disagree with them?" Maqdesi asked.

Maqdesi is not against violence.  He is a terrorist after all. He just thinks Muslims should kill non-Muslims and not fellow Muslims.  His interpretation is simply different.  According to IS, the Shiites are heretics and killing them is justified by the Sunnah.  Muhammad ordered to burn a mosque built in Dhu Awan, a population to the North of Medina, with the worshipers inside, because someone told him the Muslims there are heretics.  So if the Shiites are declared heretics, they should be killed.

More than 120 Muslim scholars around the world released a statement denouncing ISIS militants as un-Islamic. The statement said,

"It is forbidden in Islam to torture, to attribute evil acts to God, to force people to convert to Islam, to deny women and children of their rights."

This sounds hollow to those familiar with the history of early Islam.  Muhammad tortured his enemies, and he did force people to convert.  Okay, maybe I take that back. He actually gave them three choices: Convert to Islam, leave the country, or die.

Muhammad also took women and children as slaves and sold them. He allowed his followers to rape women they had captured in their raids.

The scholars also criticized the declaration of caliphate by IS:

“The mere announcement is not enough to establish a caliphate...The concept of a caliphate is not legitimate unless it is established by consensus from the Islamic community.”

This is true, but when virtually all caliphs, from Umar onward, received their consensus by force and by killing their detractors, we can’t really condemn al Baqdadi for doing the same.

The fact that many Muslims oppose IS does not make IS un-Islamic.  There has never been a time in the Islamic annals that Muslims were united.  They have always disagreed with each other and, as usual, always shed each other’s blood over their disagreements.

Even though Muslims don’t agree over anything, as long as they believe in Muhammad and Allah they are Muslim. Some follow the footsteps of their prophet more closely and others a little less. But they all follow him. IS, al Qaida, Boko Haram and Shabab are a bit stricter in their adherence to the Sunnah of their prophet.  They of course disagree with each other just as many companions of Muhammad did.  One of the biggest wars in early Islam where thousands were killed was the War of Camel between Aisha, the preferred wife of Muhammad and Ali, his cousin and son-in-law.  Sunni Muslims regard both these figures as exemplary salafs.

In regards to Mr. Obama’s statement that no religion condones killing innocents, we must keep in mind that the definition of innocence in Islam is not exactly the same as non-Muslims understand it.  According to Muhammad, everyone is born Muslim. It is that later in life they reject it. Those who are not Muslim are apostate and as such not innocent.  The word kafir is erroneously translated as infidel or unbeliever.  That is not the correct translation. Kafir sounds like cover, and it has the same meaning. Kafir is one who covers the truth -- an unbeliever is ignorant. A kafir is one who knows the truth and yet hides it and denies it out of malice. Those who don’t believe in Islam do so because there is sickness in their heart. They are not innocent.  So, although it is true that killing the innocent is not condoned by any religion, Islam allows it, by taking innocence out of the innocent.

Ali Sina is the author of “Understanding Muhammad and Muslims.” He has also written a complete biography of Muhammad and a script for his biopic. He is looking for backers for making the movie and a publisher for his book. He can be reached at faithfreedom.org, alisina.org or by tweeter @AliSinaOrg.

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