Is ISIS Islam?

November 21, 2015

Well the mini skirt answer is they certainly have nothing to do with the Hare Krishna’s!

Very often the Islamic State’s approach is summarily dismissed by moderate Muslims as un Islamic since they are accused of selectively quoting the Hadith and Sunna to further violence and terrorism.

The problem with that automatic response that has remain unchanged since the days of Yasser Arafat is that it denies the reality – Islam is not a monolithic body of knowledge. That incidentally is true of every religion on this planet as well! If anything islam is a very wide ranging and diverse corpus of teachings, ideology, philosophy and suggested way to live with no centrally controlled authority to maintain contextual and interpretative fidelity to what is right and wrong…true and false…manufactured and adulterated…embellished and pure etc etc.

Truth remains. Many of ISIS ideology, policies and actions, as heinous and inexplicable as they are to the Western mind, can sit very comfortably within the vast geography of Islamic teachings….there is a lot of room for accommodation and even more for improvisation, that is the main problem in a nutshell.

Critics and moderate Muslims may continue to insist vehemently ISIS is only selectively citing Islamic verses in order to legitimize many of their evil actions to its followers, but ironically that is precisely what gives ISIS it’s credibility : they are able to account for their actions coherently by citing a theological basis.

Of course, I am not suggesting for one moment that ISIS is mainstream Islam. Or that Islam condones murder and terrorism….but to assign a label that ISIS is un-Islamic without bothering to go into details is to deny the diversity and range of Islamic teachings that exist in the vast geography of the Islamic world – that ultimately has to be a self-defeating stance…only because it denies reality.

Besides it is an argument that ignores some very basic evidence concerning what continues to power ISIS, and hinders comprehensive understanding concerning why adherents of ISIS believe and do the things they do along with supplying possible answers as to their ultimate goal.

To intelligently resolve this perennial hubris of what is Islamic and un-Islamic. Muslim scholars and community leaders would do well to consider conceiving a central controlling authority on similar lines with the Vatican to vet religious text so that religious material are never taken out of context to legitimize or weaponize terrorism or any wrong doing. Coming to think of it, maybe Christians should also do the same as well.

People and planet would be much safer if the ambit of all religion is strictly delineated to ONLY promote peace and mutual co-existence.

Religion after all can mean so many things to so many different people.


‘When I first started commercial farming in the kampung. I was once asked by the headmaster of the village school to clear up a confusion concerning which was ‘righter’ or ‘wronger’ – to say,

I have two thumbs and eight fingers or I have ten fingers?

I told this teacher casually one can use both phrases interchangeably as to the best of my knowledge the thumb is also a finger and finger doesn’t necessarily exclude the thumb.

Shortly thereafter a mini war of words erupted in village school. One faction comprising of mainly art stream teachers who liked to make fun of me for not having a wife insisted that thumbs were not fingers at all. They said, if thumbs are fingers, then why do the look so different from fingers? Why was there a need to even create a separate word to describe the shortest finger as a thumb?

The science stream teachers on the otherhand continued to insist thumbs were a form of fingers. They believed since a thumb fulfilled the same functions as fingers, they were in every sense of the word fingers.

As for the village kids, they went around asking unsuspecting people who were not from the village, how many fingers do I have? To which most would naturally reply, ten. Only for them to stick out their thumb and ask of this stranger, what do you call this then? To which most would naturally reply, a thumb. Only for the children to ask a rather confounded man thereafter, now how many fingers do I have? After this, they laughed and ran away leaving the poor sod scratching his head none the wiser.

Eventually to resolve the war of whether fingers are thumbs or thumbs are fingers. I had to issue a written retraction to clarify that I was not qualified to make such a distinction and it would be better if the school wrote directly to either the ministry of education or British Council to clarify the confusion concerning thumbs and fingers.

Sometimes I think religion is a bit like this story – it’s ultimately a matter of interpretation and from what vantage you choose to see a thing. The only problem is, there is no one to write too for further clarification…and that has to problematic…..maybe that is the problem.’

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