Egypt's Dar al-Ifta Observatory for Takfiri Fatwas has refuted the premise of a video posted by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in which the group incites the killing of civilians in Western countries.
ISIL's video, circulated on August 20th via social media, calls for targeting non-Muslim civilians and disparages senior Islamic scholars by name.
The observatory presented its response to ISIL's video in the latest edition of its newsletter "Irhabiyoun" (Terrorists) under the title, "They did not give up on your state, but rather you are the ones who distorted our state."
The August 23rd newsletter was devoted to refuting ISIL's justification of killing civilians whom it labels as infidels.
"If it is their understanding that Islam was spread by the sword and murder, that understanding is incorrect because faith is never instilled by coercion, and it is well known in the history of risalat [God’s scriptures to mankind revealed through prophets]," the newsletter said.
"There are many texts and precedents that cover this issue, so how can those people omit all this sound and conclusive evidence that forbids coercion in religion and killing of innocent souls," it said.
ISIL presents twisted interpretations of Qur'anic verses and the Prophet Mohammad's hadiths in a manner that lures young people without proper religious knowledge, who are then driven to either join terror groups or conduct "lone wolf" type operations, the newsletter said.
ISIL on the offensive
ISIL’s latest incitement to kill innocent civilians is not surprising at all, said security analyst and retired Egyptian military officer Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Ahmed.
"Why would we be surprised by this call when the group has essentially deemed it permissible to kill Muslims," he told Al-Mashareq.
"Upon close examination of the number of its victims, we find that ISIL has killed 10 times more Muslims than non-Muslims," he said, adding that the group does not differentiate between a Muslim and a non-Muslim so long as they oppose ISIL.
The group’s latest incitement to violence stems from the weakness that has plagued it around the world as a result of pre-emptive security strikes against it, Ahmed said.
ISIL has consequently resorted to this inflammatory tactic to spur its sympathisers to carry out individual attacks in some European countries, he said.
Violation of religion
"ISIL’s incitement against civilians in Western countries in particular, and wherever they are in general, is in violation of the Islamic religion and sharia and of the true Hadith of the Prophet," said Sheikh Abdul Zahir Shehata, a lecturer at al-Azhar University's Faculty of Sharia.
The Islamic religion forbids harming civilians, even in time of war, he told Al-Mashareq.
"So, how can incitement [be directed at] countries where no war is taking place on their territory?" he said.
ISIL is seeking with this video and others to "tarnish the image of Islam, cause widespread resentment against Muslims and cause them to be accused of terrorism wherever they are", he said.
Sharia law calls for respecting the local laws of countries in which Muslims are present for whatever reason, be it for a visit, education, residence or a temporary stay, Shehata said.
In its latest video, ISIL has "once again insulted Muslim scholars in the Arab region, particularly those who work at official religious institutions", he said.
This is a very serious matter because it contradicts highly respected clerics, he said. Nonetheless, it is a losing battle for ISIL given that awareness about true Islam is spreading among the people.
Scholars assail ISIL ideology
"The efforts of the Observatory for Takfiri Fatwas and al-Azhar and all its institutions, including monitoring releases by the ISIL terrorist group, and responding to them with reason and logic, are essential," said Sheikh Rajeh Sabri of the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments and a member of the "peace caravans" that Al-Azhar has dispatched around the world to correct the misconceptions about Islam spread by extremists.
"Although a number of cultural institutions and intellectuals are constantly assailing ISIL’s ideas, their views may not reach the targeted core segment of the population," he told Al-Mashareq.
For this reason, the detailed and specific rebuttal to ISIL's latest video, issued by a respected religious institution "was very successful in combating this deviant ideology", Sabri said.
The newsletter was issued by Egyptian religious institutions and overseen by scholars who are highly respected for their religious knowledge and competence and known for espousing moderate Islamic views, countering fanaticism, terrorism and hatred of others, he said.
Sabri said these newsletters are "vital and essential, especially since ISIL’s videos contain a great deal of incitement to killing and overthrowing of government and security institutions".