Muslims know better than anyone that ISIS is a major problem. That’s why we have condemned their brand and all other brands of terroristic cults.
Despite this, the media’s unwavering focus on these criminals and extremists who happen to be Muslim has created significant backlash against mainstream American Muslims. Political rhetoric that plays off fear and ignorance has only ignited the flame further.
In the face of these problems, Muslims must realize that we only have control over ourselves. Our community must therefore engage in an internal discussion about ISIS and terrorist groups, especially with our children, for they are the ones most vulnerable to brainwashing. We must provide our young people with a clear voice for true Islam.
To that end, here’s what every Muslim child should know about ISIS:
1. Muslim scholars do not support ISIS
A number of prominent Muslim scholars from around the world have signed an open letter to the leader of ISIS. This letter highlights the areas where ISIS’ methods have contradicted what is established in Islam. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, there are no prominent Muslim scholars supporting the barbarism of this terrorist group. Allah tells us to ask the people of knowledge when we do not know something. Our people of knowledge, our scholars, are very clear about ISIS. They are NOT in accordance with what our beloved Prophet (saw) brought.
2. They match the description of the “Khawarij”
The Prophet (saw) foretold many events that would happen after his time. Among the things he foretold was that the barefoot, destitute herdsmen of the desert would compete with each other to construct tall buildings. Enough said, right? He also foretold of a group that would arise from among his followers that would be barbaric. They will recite the Quran but it will not reach their hearts (they will not understand). They will be young and have foolish thoughts. Remember how we said that no senior scholars are on their side? They really do have foolish thoughts. They want to implement “Islamic law” but they are busy slaughtering Muslims!
3. They recruit young people on social media
Our Muslim youth face many things to be upset about. Muslims all around the world are being oppressed while the oppressors are portrayed as the victims. Muslim countries are attacked, leaving the people in chaos, yet the world doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Our youth are not cowards nor do they want to sit aside and do nothing. ISIS realizes this and takes advantage of innocent young people by trying to convince them that they will benefit the Muslim world by joining ISIS.
The problem is, ISIS isn’t doing anything for the Muslim world other than making it more chaotic. We must train the youth to see through the twisted arguments that extremist groups present. They share the verses in the Quran about fighting--war time verses which have their own specific contexts--but ISIS does not share the verses that tell Muslims to make peace with the enemy and not spread corruption and killing in the land! The best thing to do if confronted by this ideology online is to get away from the source and report it to the authorities.
4. Knowledge is power
Undercover agents who infiltrate or imitate extremist organizations for the purposes of prosecution and crime “prevention” have mentioned that typical terrorist recruits 1) don’t have much knowledge about the religion and 2) have bad family relationships.
Islam encourages every Muslim to seek spiritual knowledge and to maintain family ties, even if it hurts! The more you learn about Islam, the more you learn that extremist groups know little about Islam. The more you focus on being kind and compassionate to your own family, the more kind and compassionate you will be to the rest of the Muslim world. Leaving your family for people you don’t know, and who scholars of Islam say are misguided, is not a smart thing to do.
5. Turn to your community
The most important thing for kids to know is that they should always turn to the Muslim leaders around them for guidance. This places a huge responsibility on local Muslim leaders to be approachable by various members of their communities. American Muslims have done a lot to help all types of people, Muslim or not, with various initiatives. We have and continue to provide aid to the Palestinians, Syrians, victims of natural disasters both foreign and domestic, and those poor and hungry all over the world.
We are already doing the right things to contribute positively and Islamically to the world we live in. We need our youth to be aware of, and engaged in, these efforts that have proven useful rather than giving up their lives for something that only brings the world, especially the Muslim world, more harm.