When President Barack Obama addressed the country about the threat of ISIS Sunday night, he predictably said one more time, ISIS does not represent Islam.
“ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world -- including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim.”
The president said the same thing on September 10, 2014, when he addressed the country after ISIS captured large areas in northern Iraq:
“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state.”
But in response to that September speech, a former Muslim – now a Christian – had some things to say. His name is Brother Rasheed and he brought a lifetime of experience and study to his perspective.
Here is some of Brother Rasheed’s responses:
“Dear Mr. President, with all due respect, sir, I must tell you that you are wrong about ISIL. You said that ISIL speaks for no religion. I’m a former Muslim. My Dad is an imam. I spent more than 20 years studying Islam. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in religious studies. And I’m in the middle of my Master’s degree in terrorism studies. I can tell you with confidence that ISIL speaks for Islam. Allow me to correct you, Mr. President, ISIL is a Muslim organization. Its name stands for Islamic State, so even the name suggests that it is an Islamic movement.
“Their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, holds a PhD in Islamic studies. I doubt you know Islam better than he does. He was a preacher and a religious leader in one of the local mosques in Baghdad. ISIL’s 10,000 members are all Muslims. None of them are from any other religion. They come from different countries and have one common denominator — Islam. They are following Islam’s prophet Muhammad in every detail. They imitate him by growing their beards, shaving their mustaches and in the way they dress (Sahih Muslim, Book 2, Hadith 69; http://sunnah. com/muslim/2/69).
“They follow his command in the Hadith to differentiate themselves from the infidels by wearing their watches on the right instead of the left hand. They implement Sharia on every piece of land they conquer. They pray five times a day. They have called for a caliphate, which is a central doctrine in Sunni Islam, and they are willing to die for their religion. They are following the steps of Islam. By the way, if you want to understand ISIL, read all the biography of Muhammad by Ibn Hisham. This is their model for action.
"You think that ISIL does not speak for Islam because they beheaded an American and they killed those they consider infidels. In the same way, Islam’s Prophet Muhammad beheaded in one day between six and nine hundred adult males in a Jewish tribe called Banu Qurayza (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad. Pakistan: Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 464.).
“In fact, beheading is commanded in the Qur’an. In Sura 47, the fourth verse: ‘When you meet the unbelievers and fight, smite at their necks.’ Ironically, this Sura is called the Sura of Muhammad. Killing prisoners is also an order from Allah to Muhammad and to all Muslims. It says it is not for a prophet to have captives of war until he inflicts a massacre upon Allah’s enemies in the land, Qur’an 8:67. And by the way, three of Muhammad’s wives were Jewish girls he kidnapped from his raids on religious minorities, just as ISIL is doing today.
“Mr. President, I grew up in Morocco, supposedly a moderate country. Yet I still learned at a young age to hate the enemies of Allah, especially Jews and Christians. These are represented today by Israel and the West, especially the ‘Great Satan’ America. I prayed five times a day, repeating Al-Fatihah, the first chapter in the Qur’an, asking Allah to lead me not in the way of those who went astray and those who have the wrath of Allah upon them. We all knew that it was Jews and Christians.
“We have been brainwashed to hate all of you in our sacred texts, in our prayers, in our Friday sermons, in our educational systems. We were ready to join any group that would one day fight you and destroy you and make Islam the religion of the whole world as the Qur’an says.”
Rasheed makes a powerful argument in light of the president’s speeches. It begs the question, does the president know who our enemy is?
Since ISIS has declared war on the United States, it’s important to remember the maxim by Sun Tzu, the brilliant military strategist:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War.