Nation for PeaceReligion for PeaceWorld for Peace

Islamic scholars from Singapore refute the ISIS narratives.

Islamic scholars (asatizah in Arabic) from Singapore give stinging rebuttals to most of the subtle arguments in the IS narrative framework in this edited volume, collaborating with counter-radicalisation professionals.

People frequently claim that Islamic academics do nothing more than denounce the barbaric crimes of so-called jihadist groups and fail to provide strong, undeniable rebuttals to terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State’s nasty narratives (IS). It has also been suggested that the terrorism’s ever-renewing Hydra-like heads will have to be severed indefinitely until authentic Islamic study drains the swamp of irreligious radicalism from which the monstrosity perpetually rises new and grotesque aberrations.


On the other hand, some argue that even the early effort done by Islamic academics around the world to combat extremist indoctrination has not gotten adequate acknowledgement or coverage in the global media. Even countries that have launched major counter-radicalisation campaigns around the world—community outreach programmes, legislative and prison reforms, as well as disengagement and rehabilitation measures—have largely avoided launching major counter-narrative campaigns. Thus, in what is fundamentally a major intellectual conflict of the twenty-first century, the exact wellspring of radicalism, namely, the aggressive extremist message, has largely gone uncontested.

The singularly extraordinary ‘Singapore model’ corrects this anomaly to a large extent. The Lion City has obviously taken the lead in religiously discrediting the ideological filth of terrorist indoctrination and propaganda, thanks to its trailblazing Islamic scholarship institutions, particularly the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas). Countering Islamic State Ideology: Voices of Singapore Scholars is the most current of its delightful fruits, and it provides theological counterpoints to the IS’s primary conceptual ideas in try to prevent young, impressionable minds from joining the IS and other jihadist organisations.

Islamic scholars (asatizah in Arabic) from Singapore give stinging rebuttals to most of the subtle arguments in the IS narrative framework in this edited volume, collaborating with counter-radicalisation professionals. The book, edited by renowned counter-radicalisation analyst Professor Rohan Gunaratna and noted Islamic scholar Muhammad Haniff Hassan, fills a critical gap in the field of counter-narratives, a sore spot poignantly noted in the introductory chapter: ‘The centre of gravity of the (jihadist) threat is ideological, the Achilles heel of the Western-centric counter-terrorist strategy.’

The strength of these edited essays comes from the careful selection of IS narrative themes by accredited Islamic scholars and experts in the field, who are equally comfortable dealing with strategic terminologies in the English language as they are with the minutiae of classical Islamic jurisprudence. Every chapter of this scholarly tour de force focuses on a specific catchphrase or distorted concept in the IS strategic meta-narrative, which is then painstakingly dismantled and effectively debunked using authentic references from Islamic scriptures and classical canonical literature (including the Quran, Ahadeeth, life of Prophet and other classical sources of Islamic jurisprudence). Almost all of the key IS propositions are addressed in the book’s 22 chapters, including the false claim that militant jihad is fard al-ayn (a mandatory injunction for all Muslims, whereas orthodox jurisprudence refers to it as fard al-kifayah).—injunction of war launched by ruler only when confronting existential threat); takfeer technique (legitimising death of people after proclaiming them infidels); appeal to hijrah (injunction to migrate to IS-held regions); distortion of al wala al bara (religious ideal of ‘loyalty and disavowal’); The resurgence of slavery (despite Islam championing their liberation and making many of the kings); misrepresentation of inghimas (self-immersion into enemy lines); the untenable usage of naskh (abrogation of Quranic passages linked to peace and those opposing indiscriminate violence); and many more.

Karen Armstrong, a well-known British religious novelist, begins the discussion by stating the book’s objective in her “Foreword”:

Despite the fact that the Islamic State is no more authentically Islamic than the Ku Klux Klan is genuinely Christian, many Westerners have come to believe that its policies are conclusive proof that Islam is addicted to violence, despite the fact that leading Muslim authorities have strongly condemned both its conduct and ideology. This new book will go deeper into the traditions and texts that counteract this misunderstanding.

The book begins by outlining the fundamental elements of the IS ideology, including its essential beliefs, credo, professed aims, and even its historical beginnings. This is a critical initial step since counter-narratives can only be delivered after a thorough examination of the terrorist narrative. The book then opens its clinical examination by launching a rant against IS’ diabolic mobilisation effort, which mainly relies on its invocation of young to migrate to IS’ territory against state laws, parental will, and family members’ arguments. Muhammad Haniff Hassan is highly compelling in his discrediting of the Islamic term hijrah (migration), which alludes to the Prophet’s travel from Mecca to Madinah but has been hijacked by the IS for its siren-like call to move to its borders.


The essay makes the compelling case that, unlike IS, the Prophet never declared jihad as fard al-ayn while ruling Madinah. Even when two of Islam’s holiest sites—the Kaabah in Mecca and Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem—weren’t under his control, he didn’t push Muslims to migrate to his city-state. The scholar then references the well-known Hadeeth narrative of Yemeni migrant Uwais Al Qarni and wonders why the Prophet accorded him the rank of a Sahabi (companion), despite the fact that Uwais never met the Prophet and had to abandon his trip to Madinah to care for his blind and ailing mother. The anecdote serves as a powerful response to the Islamic State’s call for young people to ignore the pleas of their parents and families as they flee to the terror group’s territory.

In another chapter, Muhammad Haniff Hassan and Mustazah Bahari de-mythologize the IS’s deviously acquired “black flag” imagery. The IS created black flags for itself using obscure references found in Hadeeth literature classed as dhaeef (belonging to a weak narrative chain that purportedly culminates in a statement by the Prophet), and then claimed to be the prophesized army of Al Mahdi bearing “the black banners.”The Hadeeth literature in this prophecy is very vague in its details, but it mentions a group with black flags emerging from Khurasan—the region encompassing north-eastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, and northern Afghanistan (rather than IS, which has emerged from the Levant)—in order to fight the evil forces of the mythical Dajjal (Anti-Christ) before the end of the world. The chapter also exposes IS’ other devious eschatological misinterpretations, such as its capture of the small and strategically irrelevant hamlet of Dabiq in Syria’s early years, simply because it is a supposedly prophesied site in an ambiguous Hadeeth reference about a battle that ushers in Armageddon (Al Malhama Al-Kubra).

This book also effectively defends the controversial issue of Quranic verses being abrogated, particularly those extolling peace and imposing restrictions on violence in times of war, such as prohibitions against targeting non-combatants (women, children, the elderly, the priestly class, cattle, crops, fruit-bearing trees, and so on). The right understanding of the ‘Sword Verse’ (Quran Surah 9, Verse 5) in the context of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah is recommended reading for both Muslims and non-Muslims, as this subject frequently produces misconceptions about Islam’s defensive approach to war. IS’ misinterpretation of the notion of al wala al bara (loyalty and disavowal) and the depravity behind its atrocities during the auspicious month of Ramadan have been debunked with similar expertise.

However, the essay that disproves IS’ faulty connection of suicide bombing with a theological licence for inghimas is the most compelling refutation from a strategic perspective. The essay illustrates how most Islamic jurists classify the analogy as a case of “al-qiyasmaa al-fariq” (an analogy between two dissimilar things). The counter-argument demolishes the suicide bombing defence by contrasting inghimas with current commando operations, in which there is always a potential of averting deaths and where such actions could be only for sabotage purposes. It exposes IS’ deliberate attempt to conflate inghimas with suicide bombing operations (which IS refers to as’amliyat al istishhadiyya’), which Islamic scholars consider being prohibited. As a result, the article states:

Suicide bombing is illegal not only because of the immorality of the act but also because of the evil of killing civilians. This is in line with established legal maxims in Islamic jurisprudence such as ‘al-wasaillaha ahkam al-maqasid’ (a means that takes the same ruling as its objective [if the objective is impermissible, the means used to achieve it also becomes impermissible]) and ‘al-ghayah la tubarrir al-wasilah’ (a means takes the same ruling as its objective [if the objective is impermissible (an end does not justify the means). 

The book is full of hidden jewels and even new theological insights that contradict IS’ reasons for barbarity and give Muslims and non-Muslims a correct knowledge of Islam, “combined with the promotion of moral and humane principles.” The only problem is that these counter-narratives sound overly scholarly, which may not appeal to the young and impressionable, who are motivated by passion and emotion rather than legal reasoning. The book has credibility because its authors are recognised Islamic academics, but it lacks the Aristotelian ‘pathos,’ which is considered more convincing than either the ‘logos’ (logical argument) or the ‘ethos’ (moral argument) (the credibility of the messenger). One could question if these counters could be transformed into concise, deliverable strategic statements that could be used across a range of mediums—social media, websites, films, public forums—and incorporated into seminary curricula. The pages of this book need to fly in public debate, not be bookended by a stack of forgotten books on a library shelf. In any event, this is a significant scholarly achievement with enormous value and significance.

By some NEWS Agency

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Translate »