September 10, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6159

Iraqi Columnist: Why Aren't Muslim Clerics Calling For Jihad Against ISIS?

September 10, 2015
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 6159

In his July 9, 2015 column, titled "Why Won't They Declare Jihad Against ISIS? Secularists and Infidels Are More Zealous for Islam than the Sheikhs," in the Arabic internet daily, Kurdish-Iraqi columnist Anas Mahmoud Al-Sheikh Mazhar harshly criticized Muslim clerics for their apathy and silence in the face of ISIS and its actions, and wondered whether they should not declare jihad and struggle against the organization in light of the dangers it posed. He added that Muslim clerics should be ashamed of themselves, particularly considering that foreign politicians and armies have rushed to defend Islam from ISIS. The following are excerpts from his column:[1]

Anas Mahmoud Al-Sheikh Mazhar (Source:, May 16, 2015)

The Muslim Clerics' Silence In Face Of ISIS Actions Is Incomprehensible

"In the past, we were accustomed to seeing clerics ascend to mosque pulpits and launch their lofty sermons with attacks on the mistaken policies and actions of the politicians in their countries... All the preacher had to do was to raise his voice and shout, and the worshippers and listeners would moan and cry 'Allah Akbar' after every word emerging from his throat. Thus, the measure of a preacher's skill was his ability to attack government policy. Preachers would compete vigorously amongst each other, and the leading mosques were those that frequently dealt with politics and attacked [politicians].

"This 'fashion' continued until ISIS emerged and took over large swaths of the [Middle East] region. Then, as though ordained by fate, these voices fell silent. Their interest in politics waned, and religious matters took up more of their sermons - and not only in the mosques. The clerics and preachers filling the TV channels [also] dealt mainly with the life and times of the Prophet [Muhammad], with religious laws and affairs, and with questions concerning the afterlife and its horrors, to the point where viewers must have felt that they were living in an entirely different world.

"In light of the circumstances in the region, and in light of the plot against Islam being carried out by extremist organizations that have twisted this tolerant religion and replaced it with one consumed by murder, slaughter, floggings, and chopping off of hands, we see Islam's sheikhs and clerics living in enviable peace and complacency, paying no heed to the perplexed Muslims, who by now are confused about their faith and no longer know right from wrong.

"How can clerics who consider themselves zealous about their religion remain silent as the grave, in light of the events in the region and the acts against Islam that these organizations are committing? Could it be that we are wrong and that the true Islam is the one that ISIS preaches? If this is Islam, why be ashamed to admit it[?] And if it is not, why are they refraining from telling the truth?

"Some may say that most Muslim clerics have expressed anti-ISIS positions. This is true, but can such a grave problem be addressed merely with [weak] verbal opposition, without a serious and determined stand that reflects this opposition? We have seen clerics conduct major popular campaigns against matters that are trivial, to say the least, and devote all their time and resources to [these matters]. But faced with the problem of twisting the religion, they settle for [mere] verbal objections, and provide them only when directly asked to do so.

"It is strange that some of the 'sheikhs of Islam' encouraged the Arab peoples' enthusiasm to topple their rulers during the Arab Spring - issuing fatwas calling for jihad against them, even though the Arab rulers' crimes did not compare to despicable crimes of ISIS. Over the decades [of their rule,] tyrannical Arab regimes did not distort Islam the way ISIS has over the past three years. It is also strange that some sheikhs were enraged when the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt was ousted, since it is at best a political group or faction. These sheikhs described those who made this change [the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime] as infidels who have left Islam, and even incited the Egyptian people against their new government and declared jihad against it - yet they are silent in light of the actions of these terrorist organizations who are trying to topple Islam as a religion, not just some party or group. Doesn't the danger posed by ISIS require them to declare jihad against it?"

Shame On You For Remaining Silent In Light Of The Dangers Of ISIS - While "Infidels" Protect Us

"There are three possible explanations for their silence in light of the phenomenon and behavior of ISIS:

"One - the sheikhs and preachers of Islam are cowards and dare not speak the truth, fearing that extremist organizations will kill them, leading them to act in contradiction to their [own] sermons, which encourage telling the truth even at the cost of one's life.

"Two - they [believe] in their hearts that this is Islam, and are [therefore] pleased by the actions of these extremist groups and believe in them. Therefore, regimes and security mechanisms should treat these sheikhs like any other terrorist, and apply the terrorism laws to them.

"Three - their regimes are involved in the actions of ISIS and they are unable to disobey their leaders. Therefore they follow these leaders at the expense of the truth, without feeling that the responsibility is on their shoulders as clerics. This makes them hypocrites.

"If we give the clerics the benefit of the doubt, and choose the first option - i.e. that they are motivated by fear, even though this is a shameful option - we say to them: Shame on you for standing by and playing blind, deaf, mute, and dumb - while armies, nations, and peoples that you have termed infidels rush to defend us and our religion, even if they are also defending themselves. It is shameful that the European politicians [whom you call] 'infidels' come out to purge the Islamic arena of this extremist ideology, and that secular Arab artists [whom you call] 'murtadoun' [apostates] criticize ISIS actions that deviate from the straight path - while you hide behind mosque pulpits and utter not a sound, as though it does not concern you.

"You wretches... Have you no shame?"


[1], July 9, 2015.

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