From: Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia
To: Salam Al-Marayati ; Nihad Awad ; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed ; Dr. Zuhdi Jasser ; Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser; Naeem Baig ; Kashif Al-Huda ; Dr. M. A. Muqtedar Khan ; Iftekhar Hai ; Mike Ghouse
Subject: MECCA, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 7:46 PM
My Fellow Muslims,
Hold your horses! Thrashing a writer’s viewpoint, just because he did a fairly good study about ISIS is not a decent way to conduct our intellectual affairs. It is alright to express disappointment, but to discard some of the writer’s valid points by deploying our baseless emotional intelligence is uncalled for.
Truthfully speaking, I personally fear hearing the word “Methodology.” For whatever reason, this very word has been often used by the so-called pious Muslims whenever they mention about the Prophet of Islam. We all can rant and rave about the article titled, “What ISIS Really Wants?,” but we must take a hard look at the twenty-two (22) selected points which Graeme Woods painstakingly highlighted as follows:
Point No. 1
Nearly all the Islamic State’s decisions adhere to what it calls, on its billboards, license plates, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology.”
Point No. 2
The religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Point No. 3
But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.
Point No. 4
On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. Both are closely identified with the jihadist wing of a branch of Sunnism called Salafism, after the Arabic al salaf al salih, the “pious forefathers.” These forefathers are the Prophet himself and his earliest adherents, whom Salafis honor and emulate as the models for all behavior, including warfare, couture, family life, even dentistry.
Point No. 5
When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.
Point No: 6
As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State.
Point No: 7
The Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
Point No: 8
“Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
Point No: 9
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
Point No: 10
Cerantonio said, the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life.
Point No: 11
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
Point No: 12
In April 2013, Adnani declared the movement “ready to redraw the world upon the Prophetic methodology of the caliphate.” In August 2013, he said, “Our goal is to establish an Islamic state that doesn’t recognize borders, on the Prophetic methodology.”
Point No: 13
The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims.
Point No: 14
The foreign fighters (and their wives and children) have been traveling to the caliphate on one-way tickets: they want to live under true Sharia, and many want martyrdom. Doctrine, recall, requires believers to reside in the caliphate if it is at all possible for them to do so. One of the Islamic State’s less bloody videos shows a group of jihadists burning their French, British, and Australian passports. This would be an eccentric act for someone intending to return to blow himself up in line at the Louvre or to hold another chocolate shop hostage in Sydney.
Point No: 15
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.
Point No: 16
There is, however, another strand of Islam that offers a hard-line alternative to the Islamic State—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions. This strand has proved appealing to many Muslims cursed or blessed with a psychological longing to see every jot and tittle of the holy texts implemented as they were in the earliest days of Islam. Islamic State supporters know how to react to Muslims who ignore parts of the Koran: with takfir and ridicule. But they also know that some other Muslims read the Koran as assiduously as they do, and pose a real ideological threat.
Point No: 17
Baghdadi is Salafi. The term Salafi has been villainized, in part because authentic villains have ridden into battle waving the Salafi banner. But most Salafis are not jihadists, and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State. They are, as Haykel notes, committed to expanding Dar al-Islam, the land of Islam, even, perhaps, with the implementation of monstrous practices such as slavery and amputation—but at some future point. Their first priority is personal purification and religious observance, and they believe anything that thwarts those goals—such as causing war or unrest that would disrupt lives and prayer and scholarship—is forbidden.
Point No: 18
Quietist Salafis believe that Muslims should direct their energies toward perfecting their personal life, including prayer, ritual, and hygiene. Much in the same way ultra-Orthodox Jews debate whether it’s kosher to tear off squares of toilet paper on the Sabbath (does that count as “rending cloth”?), they spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that their trousers are not too long, that their beards are trimmed in some areas and shaggy in others. Through this fastidious observance, they believe, God will favor them with strength and numbers, and perhaps a caliphate will arise.
Point No: 19
The Islamic State loathes this talk, and its fanboys tweet derisively about quietist Salafis. They mock them as “Salafis of menstruation,” for their obscure judgments about when women are and aren’t clean, and other low-priority aspects of life.
Point No: 20
Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims.
Point No: 21
Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
Point No: 22
Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.
Shifting the entire blame on any Western writer who gives us a clue about what’s wrong within the mindset of “Muslim Terrorists,” must be respected to say the least. That’s just the bottom line, my fellow Muslims.
For American Muslim leaders and media pundits, it will be wise on their part to keep a close watch on those who claim to be “Quiet Salafists.” Like Brenton Pocius, a Salafi Imam, who goes by the name of Abdullah, and is based in a mosque somewhere in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Safe Spaces Initiative,” launched by Muslim Public Affairs Council which emphasizes the intervention, prevention and ejection, might not even help to weed them out. Just like “Stealth Jihadists,” who are in our midst, and so are “Quiet Salafists,” too.
All in all, I am afraid there is no safe space, till all Muslims, especially American Muslims start to accept the fact that, any heinous crimes committed in the name of “Allah-u-Akbar,” is our problem only. We better grasp a harsh reality that all the perverted ideologies coupled with corrupted methodologies have been deeply rooted in the Islamic world and nowhere else. All, “We The Moderate Muslims,” can do at this point in time, is to collectively raise our voice by saying, MECCA, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
Thanks again for reading, I remain
Very respectfully yours,
Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia
Jihadi ideology is based today on what is commonly known as Salafism, an ambiguous concept that has served to designate various and very different movements throughout the years. The term is derived from the word Salaf, which means to precede. In Islamic vocabulary, it is used to describe the followers of al Salaf al salih, the virtuous fathers of the faith who were the companions of the Prophet. The group includes the first three generations of Muslims. Since they learned Islam directly from the Prophet, they understood the true meaning of the religion. Salafis aim to eradicate the impurities introduced during centuries of religious practice. Interpretations not based on the original sources of the religion are viewed as distortions that lead Muslims to stray from the path of God. Salafis have constructed a method (manhaj) to help the search for religious truth. It is a methodology for determining the correct interpretation of the religion, based on the
Koran, the Sunna, and the example of the first Muslims.
The method is based on a series of core concepts, foremost among them the tawhid or belief in the uniqueness of God. Another essential concept in Salafi ideology is bid’a or any innovation in the faith. Salafis argue that since the Koran and Sunna reveal the true nature of Islam, any innovation is a distortion of the path to God and is therefore to be rejected. Salafis also devote considerable attention to the science of the hadiths, and call themselves the People of the Hadith (Ahl al-Hadith). In their opinion, the hadiths are, according to the Koran, the most important source of religious knowledge and guidance, providing the best example of how Islam was practiced when it was first introduced. Hence, many Salafi scholars devote themselves to the science of the hadiths in order to eliminate those that are false and thus be able to propose an exact version of the tradition of the Prophet. Lastly, Salafis consider the division of Muslims into separate schools to be unacceptable, because there can only be one correct interpretation or opinion. One of the main problems the Muslim community is experiencing is precisely this blind adherence or imitation (taqlid) of a particular school. Salafis insist, therefore, that the truth is to be found in the sources, not in the texts written by jurists.
Salafism is thus a path and a method to search for religious truth, a desire to practice Islam exactly as it was revealed by the Prophet. The Salafi mission is grounded on avoidance of bid’a and shirk, strict adherence to the principle of tawhid and a desire to transcend the differences between the various schools, as well as the quest for religious truth in the original sources of Islam.
… The most radical Salafis base their interpretation of jihad on the writings of Ibn Taymiyya  and, like him, they consider that actions by governments that are contrary to Islamic law can be considered proof in order to declare them non-believers. The takfir thus became an instrument that could be used to oppose any regime whatsoever through armed struggle.
In tandem with the evolution of Salafism, jihadi ideology gradually gained ground in Afghanistan and eventually merged with Salafism. Its chief proponent was Abdallah Azzam, who in 1984, founded the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), an office for recruiting Arabs to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Azzam was to have a decisive influence on Usama bin Ladin. In his work, The Main Obligation of Muslims is to Defend the Land of Islam, Azzam writes that jihad is a moral obligation for all Muslims, the sixth pillar of the faith. Using an epic and mystic language, he sets out a vision of the world based on strict Salafism and on calls to martyrdom, stressing the permanent state of humiliation suffered by the umma, as a result of the actions of crusaders and Zionists. His work was to have a decisive influence on the jihadi radicalism of the 1990s.
The global proliferation of fighting Salafism and its fusion with jihadi ideology were further consolidated under bin Ladin. His declaration of war on the West-backed by the creation in 1998 of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders caused groups that had originally been set up to provide logistical support to al-Qa’ida (e.g. the Islamic Group of Moroccan Combatants) and had originally sought to purify and punish society, to now set their sights on the West. The struggle was no longer confined to the nearest enemy but also to those further away. Fighting Salafism assumed the role of globalizing the jihad born out of the Afghan experience and became the core ideology of the new radical Islamism.
Salafism is first and foremost a method for the search of the religious truth; a desire to practice Islam exactly as it was revealed by the Prophet. It is a religious method whose influence has spread throughout the Arab world and also in Europe, thanks to the support received from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, which have helped expand this peculiar vision of Islam that is very close to Wahhabism. Its influence is on the rise and it has successfully impregnated several Islamist movements, including some sectors of the Muslim Brotherhoods. …
The fighting version of Salafism has also become the core ideology of the global jihadism sponsored by al-Qa’ida and the radical utopia of Abdallah Azzam. This ideology, aided by the proselytizing work of radical clerics, has led to the emergence in Europe of small groups with the capability to carry out independent terrorist strikes. [Excerpted from a very long essay – Read Details in Entirety. I am guessing the question marks is grammar my browser did not pick-up correctly]