Un-Islamic or Non-Muslim The Identity of Violent Extremist Elements among Muslims

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Zakyi Ibrahim



The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted
psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected
populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached
by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations
of Islam.”1
This editorial analyzes the phenomenon of violent extremism and its identification
and association with Islam by analysts and critics. In my 29:1 editorial
“The Stigma of Extremism on Muslims,” I suggested that the violent elements
in Islam are no more than “a fraction of the 7 percent of global Muslim population
considered to be ‘politically radicalized,’ including [non-violent] sympathizers”
2 and “an inescapable nuisance and … regrettable stigma [to] the
larger Muslim majority.”3 I stand by these points, the iteration of which, in this
current editorial, gains its prime relevance.
Here, I argue further that despite the Prophet’s prohibition of labeling other
self-confessed practicing Muslims as “non-Muslims”4 regardless of their actions
(i.e., takfīr), extremists nevertheless use it to give themselves the license
to kill other Muslims, a fact that makes their actions “un-Islamic.” I also maintain
that the peace-loving Muslim majority has the moral right and intellectual
prerogative to denounce this violent minority and to get their denunciation appreciated
and deemed supreme.

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