"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah." This was the statement made by Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in a video clip released after his group kidnapped 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria. Among the demands made by Boko Haram, after killing civilians, abducting girls and selling them — by Allah — is to establish an Islamic caliphate!
The use of the phrases "by Allah" and "Islam" is enough to cause a split among the ranks of Muslims. There are rational people who will think about what stands behind these phrases, and then there are "blind people" who will believe anything this group says, as long as it uses the phases "Islam" and "by God" as a part of its statements. The latter will remained perplexed, searching for a way to justify [these claims].
I know that the minds of the "general public," whose education in monopolized by sheikhs and preachers — some of whom go too far in their personal, psychological and social interpretations — have today become "minds without movement," following these sheikhs and preachers blindly. They support the latter, searching for any justification to support their views, even if it violates Sharia law, Islam, and human values that have evolved, been refined and become civilized. But what is it that can justify this action in the minds of the general public, when they see a group in Nigeria — calling itself "Islamic" — kidnapping schoolgirls and selling them like captives, and saying this is "by Allah"?
While it may be easy to condemn this group that is geographically far from us, the matter becomes more confusing when we consider the multiple news broadcasts by the Saudi Press Agency about the arrest of terrorist groups in our country. These groups are gathering arms and planning bombings, and are affiliated and in contact with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. And perhaps there are some who defend them, even if by saying that they are a "group who has gone astray," meaning that they are intellectually correct, but have gone too far. [Thus, according to them] it's no problem that they think those around you are infidels, that their women are captives, money warrants being stolen and the state is against religion. [According to this logic] If you translate these ideas you are "taking the wrong road," even though the road signs are telling you these words!
Those who resort to violence, sectarianism and social disintegration have no homeland; rather they are keen on allegiance to an Islamic caliphate, as is the case with Boko Haram and ISIS.
In fact, the problem does not start where these groups end up, but rather where they began. Those who gather weapons in our country or those who abduct schoolgirls in Nigeria only have arrived at these actions via a rhetoric claiming that it represents pure Islam and a return to the concepts of the Golden Age of Islam. Here they don't mean the virtuous values of this age, but rather its political conditions and the methodology of wars at the time between the "infidels" and Islam. This methodology is based on the law that those with dominance and strength have the right [to do what they want]. And when you embrace a rhetoric that you believe is the absolute truth, then you must spread it by force, and when you have weapons you must translate this to murder and abductions, reassured that this is all done "by Allah."
Where were we when these young people were deluded by these stories and tales? And where were we when they were in a hypnotic trance, like [the myth of] when the leader of the band of Assassins drugged one of his young followers with marijuana [hashish] and he awoke surrounded by women in the harem? The young follower spent a night with them, thinking that they were [Quranic] houris. When he awoke the next day he believed that what he had lived was reality, and went out in the morning carrying a dagger. He carried out a suicide attack, killing an official or ruler who was hostile to the leader of the Assassins.
These people are not mercenaries, rather they are — unfortunately — people who embrace a rigid ideology whose errors have accumulated until they blocked all outlets for life. Thus, they began demanding death for both us and them.
Rhetoric is more dangerous than bearing arms, and the proof is that any attempt to dismantle this rhetoric is met with consternation and resistance at times, and anger at others. This is because all those who criticize these groups are "enemies of Islam." It is as if Muslims cannot make mistakes, so attacking these "religious people" is equated to attacking religion.
How can Islam — as a tolerant religion with sublime values and high morals — distinguish from Muslims who have inherited this great religion but made mistakes in its interpretation, and those who think that whenever they destroy and become more extreme they are more correct?
Is it that difficult for us to say that Boko Haram and ISIS — whose plots Saudi newspapers recently uncovered — have nothing to do with Islam? Is it that difficult for some people to understand that "religion" is not these so-called religious men who display weapons, kidnap girls and sell them like captives? Perhaps this explanation is difficult for some in our generation who have made up their minds, but Boko Haram and ISIS — for today's and tomorrow's generation — are nothing but a new band of Assassins!
Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
- The award-winning Middle East Lobbying - The Influence Game
- Archived articles
- Exclusive events
- The Week in Review
- Lobbying newsletter delivered weekly