The rate at which some vulnerable youth are becoming brain-washed into believing ISIS propaganda calls for a serious dialogue on the issue. Any youth contemplating joining ISIS should bear in mind that the barbaric killings of Christians, destruction of ancient artifacts and murder of innocent people in the region under the control of ISIS have absolutely no affiliation to the ethics and tenets of Islam. There should be no compulsion in religion (Quran 2:257) and the prophet Muhammad never forced anyone to accept him. It is therefore very strange that despite all these atrocities, some youth still fall victim to this diabolical organization which has become adept at spreading misinformation and taking advantage of ignorance.
It is important for youth to understand that ISIS is flourishing in unstable countries in the Middle East, such as Syria, Iraq and Libya, due to breakdown of law and order. When there is a power vacuum in a country as a result of war, any splinter group can emerge to fill the void left behind. Such is certainly the case here. ISIS’s barbaric actions contradict the Quran and the traditions of the prophet Muhammad. Hence, the ISIS organization should be viewed as a political unit struggling for power in the affected countries.
Quran requires tolerance
Islam as a religion shows great tolerance to people of other religious faiths and, in fact, it is incumbent upon Muslims to protect the lives and property of those of other faiths (Quran 22:41). Even idol worshippers, which the Quran categorically reject as false (Quran 6:109) are not to be abused or insulted. But what does the world see ISIS doing today? Brutal killings of Christians, journalists, foreign aid workers, raping and enslaving of women and children just to mention a few.
Are these actions not against the prophet Muhammad’s own words when he sought to protect the Christian monastery at Mount Sinai, Egypt?: “No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.” Did the prophet not give his mosque for a delegation of Christians to hold their church service? Did he not send some of his companions to seek asylum in the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia? Since the answer is yes, why should ISIS murder Christians in Libya and other areas under their control?
It is apparent that ISIS is distorting true Islamic teachings to suit its political ideology and therefore the youth should not buy into its sophisticated propaganda. If the purpose of joining ISIS is for spiritual development from their so-called “caliphate,” it is bound to fail because the true caliphate of Islam as clearly exhibited by the companions of the prophet Muhammad for more than a century and recently by the Ahmadiyya Community have never resorted to violence to spread the true message of Islam.
A better way
You cannot win people’s hearts and minds by terror and neither can you force someone to believe in your faith. ISIS is a political organization doomed to fail and it will certainly be a mistake on the part of some youth to join such an organization. ISIS’s current despicable actions are against the genuine teachings of the Quran and therefore have no hope of uplifting the spiritual progress of anyone. Not all that glitters is gold and therefore do not be fooled through propaganda or savvy Internet videos into thinking that ISIS represents the true Islam.
If some youth are in the quest for leadership or spiritual uplift, there is an alternative peace-loving caliphate found only in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community with a well-structured organization, huge literature base and clear leadership qualities to help any seeker of truth satisfy his or her spiritual thirst. By this, it is hoped that those youth in search of spiritual enlightenment will abandon the suicidal mission of travelling overseas to join ISIS but will instead turn to the peace-loving caliphate in the comfort of their own homes in America to really understand the true meaning and value of Islam which categorically rejects the killing of innocent souls (Quran 5:33).
Seidu Malik, Ph.D, is the education youth leader for the RTP Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He lives in Chapel Hill.