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Talk to Al Jazeera Tariq Ramadan: ‘ISIL’s acts are un-Islamic’

Tariq Ramadan: ‘ISIL’s acts are un-Islamic’
The prominent Muslim academic on the threat of the Islamic State group and how scholars are failing the Muslim world.

They are distorting the whole message. So we have to respond to this by saying … what you are doing, killing innocent people, implementing so-called ‘Sharia’ or the so-called ‘Islamic State’, this is against everything that is coming from Islam.

Tariq Ramadan, Islamic scholar

An ‘Islamic Caliphate’, a ‘Caliph’ – terms that now in headlines across the globe, mostly thanks to one extremist group, The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

As ISIL captures territory declaring their caliphate, minorities have fled and journalists have been beheaded.

Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, has called on Muslims to take up arms, and thousands of fighters from around the world have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the self-declared caliphate.

The group’s actions are causing a backlash among Muslims who see ISIL – also known as Daesh – in contrast to their religion and past caliphates famed for tolerance.

More than 120 Muslim scholars have released a letter where they call ISIL un-Islamic and argue that the group is incorrectly using scripture to support its cause.

“They [ISIL] are distorting the whole message. So we have to respond to this by saying … what you are doing, killing innocent people, implementing so-called ‘Sharia’ or the so-called ‘Islamic State’, this is against everything that is coming from Islam,” says Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Islamic scholar.

“It is not a caliphate,” Ramadan says about ISIL. “It is just people playing with politics referring to religious sources. And this is why [as] Muslim scholars, Muslim intellectuals, we have to be quite clear about this. We have to speak the truth and be quite clear about the fact that if they are not representing what are the Islamic principles, many of the dictators today are not representing Islam either.

“They have nothing to do with [Islamic] principles because our principles are clear: that the one who is leading should be chosen by people who are followers or citizens. So many countries who are dealing with the West are not as bad as Daesh (ISIL) today, but they are bad,” he adds.

Ramadan concedes that those who speak for the mainstream understanding of Islam face a challenge for the hearts and minds of Muslims.

“The main problems of Muslims are coming from the Muslims; from Muslim-majority countries,” he says. “And then when we start to be critical and say we are going to speak out against all the dictators, then some of the scholars who responded to Daesh today and are speaking about the so-called Islamic State, saying this is wrong in Islam, they are the same scholars that are supporting dictators.”

This week on Talk to Al Jazeera, Tariq Ramadan speaks to Sami Zeidan about the threat of ISIL, why Islamic scholars are failing the Muslim world, and the role played by global powers and regional dictators.

10 commentaires - “Talk to Al Jazeera Tariq Ramadan: ‘ISIL’s acts are un-Islamic’”

  1. “The main problems of Muslims are coming from the Muslims; from Muslim-majority countries,” Yes, totally true but then you are quick to blame the West and become a apologist.

    1) Extremism are a result of undemocratic regimes: Sorry what about the extremist coming from the western countries. Chinese are also living in undemocratic regime, how do they behave?
    2) Islamic countries have been colonized, a scar which didn’t yet heal. History should have teach you that it happened also the other way round (Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia …). And the reciprocal of Israel is still there today (e.g. Bosnia whose muslim population was build up by the Turk by Syrian and Egyptians immigrants).
    3) The “evil” West is manipulating everything in the Middle East for the purpose of getting access to it’s wealth. Wonder what’s in about Yemen and Somalia. And for the wealth, sorry again oil is produced at costs as low as 4$ and sold at 2000% benefit, perhaps the West should apply these margins to the techno products it sells to the ME. Anyway there are enough “evil” Middle Eastern who want to get access to wealth of their country without sharing it with their co-nationals. As a Westerner I feel manipulated by the larger ME (including Israel). It started by your dictators playing the West against the USSR to gain money, arms, education, technology etc.. Ostracised Musharraf and others who did popup as ally only because of 9/11 and getting aid for not staying neutral.

    “The main problems of Muslims are coming from the Muslims; from Muslim-majority countries,” without ifs and buts.

    1. @ Pierre…It’s so easy for you to point fingers at Muslims and Islam without “ifs and buts” – BUT your comments sweeping statements lacks any real credibility/historical context!

      When you mention “Extremists” I assume you mean those who go out to fight in the occupied ME lands..AKA Terrorists – Are there terrorists going for relgious or geo political purposes?

      Robert Pape – Leading expert in terrorism concluded there is little connection between Islam and Muslim and Terrorists, rather what they (terrorists) have in common is to call for the withdrawal of occupied forces from their homeland! This is a matter of fact. SO POLITICAL reasons are to blame NOT RELIGION!

      How many Wars in the history of wars were theologically driven?
      How many Muslim Army’s have invaded and occupied foreign lands and how many have the West?
      Are you expert on the religion of Islam? Have you read the Quran or related books?

      It’s such a shame there are narrow minded thinkers like you who get their news feeds from the likes of FOX news! There are approx 1.6 Billion people yet you want to generalise and place all Muslims in one basket and smear the entire religion! Thank you for your forward progressive tolerant thoughts! Should I therefore base my opinion of Christianity from the actions of Hitler?

    2. Dear Pierre,
      You are mistaken about Bosnia case. Muslims in Bosnia are not immigrants from Muslims majority countries, but indigenous in this area. Of course, by analyzing all sorts of population you’ll find that there were other kinds of beliefs before monotheistic religion of any kind. It happened the same thing with Bosnia. We had dualistic religion though the Middle Age, but with elements of belief similar to Islam, like praying 3 to 5 times a day, bending over and coming to our knees though the ceremony etc. That is the reason why Islam was best accepted in Bosnia in comparison with other neighboring countries like Serbia and Croatia…

      In other parts of Europe, especially in West Europe you mostly have Muslims who’re immigrants, but in Bosnia not. We also have blond hair and blue eyes and not wearing black and by our appearance you’d never conclude that we’re Muslims, especially not Muslims with centuries long tradition…

  2. Dear Tariq,

    You are driven by a conspiracy-orientated mindset in reflecting your intellects upon the reality.

    You are stuck in an intellectual black hole that is drying up your sense of reason and leading you to endless analysis of the status quo in the Muslim world.

    You will not reach a solid ground of realism if you don’t revolutionize and genuinely reset your self-assured beliefs and understandings of Islam, humanism and geopolitics.

    If someone like you, considered as one of the enlightened Islamic philosophers and scholars, sustain such level of ambiguity and hesitation in his words, so I believe that the problem is in the full cultural and ideological context that you are representing and not just in the lack of understanding of this ideology by its followers. And a philosopher like yourself who is full with “ifs” and “buts”, and can’t build a bridge of simple wordings between his ideals and reality can’t be a role model.

    I still believe, Islam has positive energies that can help in spreading optimistic vibes across the world. However, Islamic literature, organized institutions and scholars are not up to the task yet.

  3. History was mentioned and if muslims have to move forward we have to look at our history dispassionately starting right after our Prophets(SAW) passing away. We keep on hearing the four caliphs were perfect , can somebody explain why three of them were assassinated , If muslims want to heal it is imperative we separate religion from politics , this obsession with ummah and islam being the best religion is creating a radicalized mindset from childhood which easily tips over when confronted with social or political imbalances.As a muslim i have been blindly reading Quran in arabic and digesting whatever i have been told but confronted by demons of extremism i explored a bit more and found out that most of the things going around are not even mentioned in Quran , what my wish is that i as a muslim be liberated from this myth that Arabic language is divine start reading quran and praying in a language which i understand and not some alien language which i may read in with great reverence but does no good to me.

  4. Tariq Ramadan,

    Thanks for excellent interview and clarifying comments! I especially appreciate your critique of seeing one-self as a victim, and the importance of responsibliity.

    What now happens in the greater Middle East mainly due to the US strategy of “creative destruction”, together with its encirclement of Russia and China, is extremely dangerous and have dire and unforeseeable consequenses.

    Nuclear weapons, climate change, biotechnology, emerging technologies (cyber technique and electronics), now threaten the very existence of humanity and all living beings or the world.

    We can not expect that governments will abolish these threats.

    The military-industrial-parliament-surveillance-mercenary-complex, together with the global financial capital, now runs amok, destroying industry, work, economy, democracy, welfare, climate, ecology, animal and plant speices, landscapes, and produces unemployment, poverty, structural and open violence, tyranny, war and death.

    Citizens of the world are marginalized and disinformed by the neo-liberal political class (the nomenklatura), and economists, and media industry. Isolation and fear spreads, while disorder and violence bulldoze all good values.

    Now is the time for a global non-violent Peace movement.

    We need to abolish nuclear weapons and out-law war, and to dismantle the hierachigal structures (stemming from 17th century, when military organization formed the model for states, authorities, industrial production, schools, prisons, and hospitals), which make it possible for psycho- and sociopaths to climb and seize power, keep it, and abuse it.

    We already have a positive program in common: to realize a community, a society, and a world we would like to live in. Here, we can trust our normal decency and everyday practice of equality, justice, and mutual aid. Right where we live, we can work and plan for a local participartory society which is self-providing with energy, food, and work, shifting from a quantitative (consuming) economy to a qualitative steady state economy.

    Now is the time for massive nonviolent protests, di-investments, strikes, non-cooperation.

    Guided by compassion, insight, and practice witin the great field of non-self, people of enlightening traditions can give voice to this great and nobel task.

    Best regards,
    Björn Lindgren

  5. At last you broach this subject, M. Ramadan. What took you so long? I think there are many ‘elephants in the room’ on this website, in your articles.

  6. ‘Understanding and criticising the doctrine of Islam – and finding a way to inspire Muslims to reform it – is one of the most important challenges the civilised world now faces. But the task isn’t as simple as discrediting the false doctrines of Muslim ‘extremists’, because most of their views are not false by the light of scripture. A hatred of infidels is arguably the central message of the Koran.’ Sam Harris

  7. ISIS is not Hindu,Greek Orthodox or Mormon. It is of the Islamic faith.
    Most Christians (apart from Westboro Baptist Church) ‘cherry pick’ from the Bible, discarding the nastier bits about slavery, witch burning and stoning etc.
    ‘Interpretation’ is another way of ‘cherry picking’.
    All Muslims, including ISIS, use the same text. If a text is regarded as unalterable there is always the opportunity for people to use it to justify unspeakable actions.

  8. Islam is a pure religion that favors for all.However,the interpretation and the use of Islam is another thing.Because it is free from emotional,philosophical gesture.Whatever we do and say must be based on truth and applicable our daily life.Those scholars who understood well ,must orientate those who are not.This will give us the best solution to do collaborate and to be one handed society that enhances our own development and all the people of the world shall follow after.However if we start confrontations the value of our people will be down graded and the result will be fruitless. To achieve this let;s avoid exchanging critics that harms the value that we live and have.Let;s correct our mistakes and build a model society that help each other.

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