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Terror and Religion
ISIS Issues Imam Hit List

ISIS has issued a hit list of Western imams. The New York Times reports:

The group recently threatened the lives of 11 Muslim imams and scholars in the West, calling them “apostates” who should be killed. The recent issue of the Islamic State’s online propaganda magazine, Dabiq, called them “obligatory targets,” and it said that supporters should use any weapons on hand to “make an example of them.”

The danger is real enough that the F.B.I. has contacted some of those named in the Islamic State’s magazine “to assist them in taking proper steps to ensure their safety,” said Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the F.B.I.’s field office in Washington.[..]

Several of the targeted Muslim leaders said in interviews that, while they were taking the threat seriously, they had no intention of backing off. They have hired security guards and fortified their workplaces, and some keep guns at home.

ISIS embraces a position holding that any Muslims even a little bit less strict than they are is an apostate (thus they are known as a “takfiri”—the term for a Muslim who denounces another as a non-believer—kafir—unjustly.) As a result, this list runs the gamut. Some are unsavory characters—al-Qaeda supporters who just happen to think that ISIS goes a little bit too far. But others are the sort of center-to-conservative mainstream Muslim clerics that we will need in what, it’s becoming clear, is going to be a generational struggle with radical Islam:

Imam Suhaib Webb, a Muslim leader in Washington, has held live monthly video chats to refute the religious claims of the Islamic State, also known asISIS or ISIL. In a dig at the extremists, he broadcast from ice cream parlors and called his talks “ISIS and ice cream.”

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an American Muslim scholar based in Berkeley, Calif., has pleaded with Muslims not to be deceived by the “stupid young boys” of the Islamic State. Millions have watched excerpts from his sermon titled “The Crisis of ISIS,” in which he wept as he asked God not to blame other Muslims “for what these fools amongst us do.”

“It’s an honor to be denounced by ISIS,” said Imam Webb, who frequently engages young Muslims over social media, whether on YouTube, Facebook, Periscope or Snapchat. “I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments in life.”

“It has only reinvigorated me,” he said, “to provide the antivenom to the poison of ISIS.”

It’s hard not to read that and get a bit of a thrill. There are a lot of bad people out there, as we’re learning, but fortunately there are still men of all faiths who can recognize and confront evil when they see it.

Addendum: Some of our Twitter-savvy readers may be more familiar with the Times story for what has quickly become a classic in the genre of unfortunate-but-necessary newspaper corrections. After publication, the Times was obligated to add that: “Because of an editing error, an article on Monday about a theological battle being fought by Muslim imams and scholars in the West against the Islamic State misstated the Snapchat handle used by Suhaib Webb, one of Muslim leaders speaking out. It is imamsuhaibwebb, not Pimpin4Paradise786.”

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  • FriendlyGoat

    Indeed it would be a “thrill” if moderate Islam could talk down radical Islam anywhere in the world by using sound Islamic theology to convince the radicals and convince any of the other more sensible Muslims who the radicals may actively threaten. When we acknowledge that this is a “generational struggle”, we are acknowledging that the requisite “convincing” theological tools to fix radical Islam may not actually exist. If they did and if this was theologically “easy”, it would have already been done in dozens of countries.

    • Jim__L

      Christianity has far more Scriptural resources to draw on for the sort of socializing that the modern world expects. (Indeed, much of the socialization of the modern world is a direct result of Christian ethics.)

      I wish there were more moderate secular scientists willing to point this out.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. You have hit on something I have been thinking and writing about in the comment sections (the only place I write) for a while now.

        Not only should we be grateful in Christianity for having a personal savior and a helper (The Holy Spirit) to the degree we ask both into our real lives, but we should be grateful for the gift of simplified religion. Although it is not entirely necessary to have the thinnest doctrine possible, Jesus gave us permission to boil the whole NT down to Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 (Love God—-and—-Love Others) as long as we accept him as our authority on that and really try with our hearts and minds to “Do the Two”.

        (Maybe some real minister has said “Do the Two” before, but if so, I’m not copying because I never heard of it. I just made it up.)

        The thing is, I don’t think Islam or even Judaism has any equivalent method for simplification in good spirit (like just Love God and Love Others). This is very unfortunate—-VERY unfortunate. Even the good-hearted Muslim clerics are puzzled about what to do in the face of Islamic extremism. They are lacking the blessing of simplicity which Jesus gave us as a free gift.

  • Angel Martin

    I wonder if ISIS is doing this because the people on their death list are having some effect, or is it just to show ISIS’ global terrorist reach ?

  • Jim__L

    Apparently the answer to the question “Where are the moderate Muslims denouncing ISIS?” is, “They’re out having ice cream.”

    I wouldn’t have thought to look there. Good to know.

    All drollness aside, this is not a bad start. However, I’m trying to decide whether the fact that the list is so short is a good thing or a bad thing.

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