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.”