Why Do Extremists Define Us?

Why Do Extremists Define Us? by |


Moutasem Atiya
Moutasem Atiya is the Director and Co-founder of Al-Madina Institute.

In another attempt at religious sensationalism, IS/ISIS has reportedly released a video of a woman accused of adultery being stoned to death.  The video's graphic nature feeds directly into the crazed IS public relations campaign trying to position themselves as the only true practitioners of Islam.  Their tactics do have two unfortunately real consequences.

First, they serve as a recruiting tool to many internet observers sympathetic to the IS cause. Their simplistic doctrine of purifying Islam from all innovations has led to the destruction of hundreds of religious holy sites. Black and white interpretations of Islamic theology has induced them to torture and murder countless fellow Muslims they regard as apostates. To some, this is an appealing form of Islam, a cause worthy of joining. 

Secondly, it provides the world with yet another bat to bash our religion. Islamophobes will use this as another example as to why Islam is "the mother-lode of bad ideas." To be clear, IS is not an Islamic State. It IS an armed militia that has had great success in taking over large swaths of land in Syria and Iraq to the dismay of the local population. Many reports have surfaced of failed local rebellions against IS. They are not a recognized governing body by the fellow Muslims they have forced themselves upon and therefore do not have any legitimate legal authority to enact Islamic penal codes.

As Muslims living in the West we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the actions of IS or anyone overseas. The longer we make foreign matters our focal point the longer they will be our defining point. Every time an atrocity is committed in the name of our religion thousands of miles away, we are forced into a reactionary response of condemnation. In truth, we are partly to blame for this cycle. We have had a longstanding tendency in importing foreign problems and mindsets stateside. Muslim communities have often made their first priorities the welfare of everyone back home as opposed to home. We landlocked our minds to lands far off, selling ourselves the myth of the eventual return. Imam Mohamed Magid, the former President of ISNA, acknowledged this issue in a recent article by stating, “I often find many Muslim communities are more concerned about international issues than American domestic issues.”  We need a change in mindset.


By Moutasem Atiya, 22 Oct 2014


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