The Extremist Mentality: Debunking the Ideological Flaws
Terrorist groups who flagrantly use religion as a cloak to cover up for their dastardly acts of extremism fall into serious ideological flaws which reveal their warped logic, ill-informed and unauthentic sources which they turn to in order to derive their legal justification for their insatiable desire for power, control and bloodshed.
The first ideological flaw is expressed through their unilateral declaration of war against both Muslims and non-Muslims which completely disregards the Quranic concept of diversity, human brotherhood and peaceful relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. God says, “O Mankind. We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things” (Quran 49:13).
Although the Quranic emphasis on embracing diversities and entertaining differences is well established as a basic principle in dealing with people from different religious affiliations, cultural backgrounds and racial origins, the radical groups are adamant on considering anyone who rejects their extremist ideology unjustifiably a legitimate target who may be killed; a thing which stands in total contrast to the clear Quranic message in which God says, “If anyone kills a person-unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land-it is as if he kills all mankind while if anyone saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind” (Quran 5:32).
Secondly, these terrorist groups justify their horrendous killings as a “defensive jihad” against the US and its allies to defend usurpation of Muslim lands, but this claim is nothing more than a lame excuse because these terrorist groups constitute a very tiny minority representing none but themselves. Thus, they cannot declare “defensive jihad” on behalf of 1.5 billion Muslims. Simply put, the declaration of jihad is the prerogative of the ruler of the Muslim state or his deputy and these terrorist groups as non-state actors are not allowed to declare it. In addition, the “defensive jihad” launched by al-Qaeda terrorist group against the US and its allies or the QSIS extremist group in Iraq and Syria is unjustified because the expansionist American policy against some Muslim countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, does not justify shifting the war to American soil by attacking its innocent citizens under the pretext that they are the “far enemies”. By the same token, it is not allowed for any group to topple the ruler of a Muslim country under the false claim that he is only a Muslim by name and they declare him as an apostate because he does not apply the Islamic code of laws according to their own warped understanding.
Declaring war against occupying countries can only be done after reaching the consensus and seeking allies of all the Muslim countries and only then, both the International law and the Islamic law would be in support of this declared war against hostile countries.
Thirdly, the methodology of quoting Quranic exegesis is marked with high selectivity and decontextualizing as these terrorist groups pick and choose from the views of classical scholars and exegetes without consideration for the historical contexts in which their views were formulated and with superficial application to a modern reality that is completely different. They willfully omit the qualifying parts of Quranic verses they quote and only stick to misquoted verses and hold tight to their deviant interpretations.
Fourthly, the false belief that those terrorists who were killed in line of “duty” are considered martyrs and should be rewarded paradise is another delusional understanding of the concept of martyrdom. The terrorists who get killed are not considered to be martyrs according to Islamic law even if they considered their act to be a form of jihad, had sincere intentions and were acting out of ignorance. Good intentions do not justify illegal acts and it is totally prohibited to kill innocent people from an Islamic perspective. Thus, terrorist acts like 9/11, 7/7 or any other similar horrendous acts are sheer acts of terrorism and have nothing to do with jihad.
From these four ideological flaws, we can deduce that these terrorist groups are mixing between the noble jihad which is raged to fend off aggression and establish justice and the bloodthirsty ruthless acts of killings indiscriminately against innocent people. Jihad is a war fought with honor and guided with moral codes of conduct and involves the consensus of the political and religious leaders of the Muslim world. If we compare the noble aim of jihad with the ruthless acts of murder, we can honestly see the huge lacuna which can never be abridged between the noble jihad and bloody terrorism.
Terrorist groups have the audacity to interpret from the Quran selectively to suit their own agendas and add an “authoritative” dressing to their views. These deviant ideologies need to be fought with intellectual responses which debunk their erroneous ideologies, international media, academics in their publishing, and broadcasting the vocal authentic Muslim scholars who deconstruct the false claims and warped understanding of the Quranic exegesis.