In a lecture recently posted on the Internet, Shiite Iraqi scholar Ahmad Al-Qabanji said that "the deep-rooted solution is to fight the backwardness [of ISIS] with the weapon of modernity, the weapon of human rights," whereas fighting it by means of the Population Mobilization Units and the fatwa of Ayatollah Sistani is only a temporary solution. Comparing Islam to an orange, Al-Qabanji said that ISIS, along with other rulers throughout history, represents the peel of religion, whereas the essence or seed is one's conscience and belief in Allah. By following the Quran and the Sunna to the letter, he said, ISIS, the Wahhabis, and the Salafis in general were following "the peel of the Islamic religion," but not the conscience. The lecture was posted on Al-Baheth TV, a YouTube channel dedicated to liberal Arab thought, on July 12, 2016.
Born in Najaf, Al-Qabbanji studied Islamic jurisprudence at the Shiite Hawza of his hometown in the 1970s, leaving Iraq in 1979 when Saddam Hussein came to power. In 2008, after returning to Iraq in the post-Saddam era, Al-Qabanji founded and headed the Liberal Islamic Movement in Iraq. His revolutionary ideas, especially his focus on the need to rationalize Islamic religious discourse and jurisprudence, have made him the bane of the Shiite clergy in Iraq, and over the years sparked accusations of heresy against him and led to his temporary arrest in Iran in 2013.