By Tawfik Hamid
Until the leading Islamic scholars provide a peaceful theology that clearly contradicts the violent views of the IS, the existence of a “moderate Islam” must be questioned.
The guiding principle of the Islamic State (IS) is that Muslims must fight non-Muslims all over the world and offer them the following choices: Convert to Islam, pay a humiliating tax called “Jijya,” or be killed. This violent doctrine was the primary justification for the Islamic conquests by the early Muslims.
Following the latest in a long string of inhumane and barbaric attacks by the IS, who only offer these three options to non-Muslims, it becomes mandatory to ask whether this principle IS uses is Islamic or Un-Islamic.
In other words, can a young Muslim become more religious—and more obedient to Allah—without subscribing to this ancient brutality? Will he be able to find an approved Islamic theological source or interpretation that clearly contradicts this principle, or at least teaches it in a different way (i.e., contextualizing it in time and place)?
The sad answer is: No, he cannot.
Traditionally there are five sources for Islamic Law: the Koran, the Hadith of Prophet Mohamed (such as Sahih Al-Buchakry), the actions of the disciples of Mohamed (Sahaba), the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and the Tafseer (or Interpretations) of the Koran.
If a young Muslim were to do some research to examine whether what the IS is doing is in fact Islamic or Un-Islamic, he would find some shocking results.
The literal understanding of the Koran 9:29 can easily be used to justify what the IS is doing. “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humiliated."
But perhaps this young Muslim will decide to see if the Hadith of Al-Buchakry may explain it differently. The following Sahih (authentic) Hadith in Al-Buchakry also supports the violent IS ideology: Sahih al-Bukhari 6924—Muhammad said: “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘La ilaha illallah’ (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and whoever said ‘No God other than Allah’ will save his property and his life from me."
Feeling uncomfortable with the literal interpretations of such texts, the young Sunni Muslim might try to find an answer in the actions of the Sahaba. Sadly, the Sahaba (Disciples of Mohamed) were the ones who first used these principles to justify the Islamic conquests and the subjugation of non-Muslims to Islam.
The fourth source for Islamic law is the four schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, namely: Al-Shafeii, Al-Hanbali, Al-Hanafi, and Al- Maleki. These four schools, without a single exception, support the principle that Muslims must fight non-Muslims and offer them the following choices: Convert to Islam, pay a humiliating tax called “Jijya,” or be killed.
The fifth, and last hope for a young Muslim to hold a less horrific view of Koran 9:29 is to find a Tafseer (an interpretation or commentary) that interprets it differently.
A basic search of almost ALL approved interpretations for the Koran supports the same violent conclusion. The 25 leading approved Koran Interpretations (commentaries)—that are usually used by Muslims to understand the Koran --unambiguously support the violent understanding of the verse.
So where might a young moderate Muslim find a non-violent understanding for such a verse?
Saying that “Islam is the religion of Peace” or condemning the IS as being “un-Islamic” without condemning the principle that Muslims must fight non-Muslims to subjugate them to Islam is not just hypocritical but also counterproductive as it hides the true cause of the problem and impedes the efforts to solve it.
Similarly, not calling the IS the Islamic State (to avoid using the word Islamic)—as suggested by some Islamic scholars—is not going to change the painful fact that the IS is using an approved and unchallenged principle of the Islamic theology. Such scholars need to work on providing peaceful alternatives to the current violent theology instead of asking the world not to call the IS the Islamic State.
In brief, there are certainly many moderate “Muslims.” Until the leading Islamic scholars provide a peaceful theology that clearly contradicts the violent views of the IS, however, the existence of a “moderate Islam” must be questioned.
Important note: A modern and peaceful interpretation of Koran 9:29 is available at “Modern Interpretation of the Quran” [in Arabic] written by the author of this Op-Ed (Dr. T. HAMID).The book (which could currently be the only available peaceful interpretation for the verse) has not been approved yet by the leading Islamic institutes but has gained more than two Million (2M) followers (Likes) mostly from young Arabic speaking Muslims since it was created in May 2013.