SUSRIS periodically shares perspectives from columnists in Saudi Arabia and around the Gulf. For your consideration here is a column by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim who writes regularly for Arab News. He served a career in the Royal Saudi Navy, retiring at the rank of Commodore. Today he shares his perspective on the activities of ISIS and how they are destroying Islam. We thank him for permission to share his column with you here.
Nothing Islamic About IS
A few days ago, a video released by the self-ascribed Islamic State (IS) showed an Australian teenage boy threatening western leaders. He was later identified as 17-year-old runaway boy who had left his home telling his mom he was going fishing. It still surprises many as to how he ended up joining the IS ranks thousands of miles away in Syria.
That teen is among the hundreds of western militants believed to be fighting along the IS. This writer wonders as to why an Australian teen would announce that the IS would not stop until the group’s black flags were hoisted at the Buckingham Palace and the White House.
He appeared very confident in that video and clarity in his voice was frightening as he was resolved to take lives. It is very unlikely that he will remain in Syria for long. Either he will get killed in the battlefield or one fine morning he will realize his folly. Anyway, cutting the long story short this Australian teen, who seems to be a second generation Australian with Middle Eastern origins, should have been busy doing his schoolwork at home not posing for a video threatening the world.
Thousands of miles from Australia, a Canadian identified as Micheal Zehaf-Bibeau killed a soldier in Ottawa and a gunbattle ensued on Parliament Hill during which he got killed. Later on, it was reported that he wanted to leave for Syria but due to some reasons his passport was confiscated.
Why would a Canadian, 32, or an Australian teenager wish to leave a peaceful and beautiful place like Ottawa or Sydney and travel thousands of miles to fight alongside people they knew very little about?
Most of these western militants are fighting in the name of Islam and claim that they are fighting to protect the faith. Reality, however, is otherwise. Islam is their first victim, as these groups are bringing a bad name to this peaceful religion by killing innocent people.
The Australian teen or the Canadian man has damaged the reputation of Islam and harmed Muslims in their respective countries. Perhaps, unknowingly, they have done more damage than any anti-Muslim extremist could have.
Both Australia and Canada are known for their tolerance toward religious freedom and their respect for Islam and Muslims. Muslim communities in both countries really need to open up to the community and become part of it. If somebody is not comfortable or not capable of getting integrated in a non-Muslim society, he/she should leave it in peaceful manner leaving behind a trail of pleasant memories among their former neighbors. It is important for religious figures to renounce all forms of extremism through their sermons. Islam is all about peace and whatever the IS and its likes are doing is not sanctioned by the true teachings of Islam.
Muslim communities in western countries have a task to not only open up their mosques for public relations but it is important that they open up to the communities they live in. Let us face the reality that Muslims living in western societies are a happier lot as compared with their co-religionists in many Muslim countries. As a matter of fact, many of them left their Muslim countries for a better life and social equality. Muslims in the West are allowed to build mosques and practice their religion in total freedom and among people who respect Islam. Islam teaches us tolerance. The IS has nothing to do with Islam. It is ruining the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims not only in Syria or Iraq but has also affected everyone across the globe. Destroying IS and what it stands for is a must for all countries around the world. The IS is a cancer that has to be removed.
Published by Arab News on October 29, 2014