January 12, 2015

Countering Extremism and Takfiri Ideology (A Lecture By UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad In December)

Photo: Republique Square in Paris, January 11, 2015. Source: AP.

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein (born 26 January 1964 in Amman, Jordan) is the current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He was born to Prince Ra'ad bin Zeid head of the Royal Houses of Iraq and Syria and pretender to the Iraqi throne and his Swedish-born wife Margaretha Inga Elisabeth Lind, henceforward known as Majda Raad. Previously, he was Jordan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. From 2007-2010 he served as Jordan's Ambassador to the United States and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico.
Video Title: Countering Extremism and Takfiri Ideology. Source: Conflict Studies. Date Published: January 11, 2015. Description: 
Declaring others as deviants from "the one true divine path" is a universal phenomenon, found in all religions. In Islam, Takfiris are the self-appointed guardians of "true Islam." Takfiris proclaim that Muslims who do not follow a specific version of Shariah are Kafirs (non-believers), and not Muslims. They oppose the spiritually generous viewpoint that many paths lead to God and that there could be honest diversity within the same religion. Militant Takfiris use violence to enforce "true Islam." Ahmadis, Shias, and even Sufi-Sunnis are ambushed and killed because these groups, according to Takfiris, have corrupted "true Islam." Sufi shrines are bombed as places set against Shariah. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the concomitant arrival of Saudi-Wahhabi puritanism further strengthened the Takfiri mindset. Even though the Wahhabi movement has failed to win the hearts and minds of Pakistanis, the Takfiri mindset is gathering motion and momentum. Fighting the Soviet infidels opened the floodgates of fighting all infidels. Self-righteousness is replacing spiritual plurality. The Takfiri mindset now argues that only "true Islam" belongs to Pakistan. Other religions and sects have no place in Pakistan. Hindus and Sikhs belong to India, Christians belong to the West, Shias belong to Iran, and Ahmadis are the infidels to be killed or converted to "true Islam."Small-minded versions of Islam have fanaticized Pakistan - an antediluvian land with deep interfaith roots leavened with the teachings of Hindu Swamis, Buddhist Monks, Sikh Gurus, and Muslim Sufis - into a ghastly country. Stories are frightening. Few days ago, a native Christian couple, accused of desecrating the Qur'an, was thrown into a brick kiln and burned alive while a crowd of over a thousand villagers participated in the rite. In 2010, two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore were attacked with guns and grenades, killing 94 people. Around 5000 Hindus leave the Sindh province of Pakistan every year as their holy books and temples are burnt. Hindu women are abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and married off to the kidnappers. Non-Muslims are not the only victims of hateful fanaticism. Muslim on Muslim violence is also escalating as Shias kill Sunnis and Sunnis kill Shias.
An excerpt from the lecture:
"The letter that I have alluded to was issued by a 126 Muslim scholars back in September as a response to the July sermon issued by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And what I found really quite unfortunate is that this letter which was remarkable in the sense that it was scholarly, it was backed by Muslim scholars from all over the world, it dealt with each of the point raised in the sermon, rebuttal followed by another rebuttal to each of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's points.  
But this received far less in the way of media attention than the decision to launch air strikes and take a very active military operation. Because I felt at the time and still do that this letter needs to be supported and alluded to, and spoken about, and referred to by politicians in the Islamic world and beyond. Not least because if it isn't shown that the Islamic world is responding, at least from a scholarly angle, then we will continue to see the phenomenon we see in Europe, what we saw in Germany yesterday, of the demonstrations basically targeting Islam as a religion, as opposed to the Takfiri ideology where the denunciations should be properly directed." - Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad [5:20 - 7:10].
You can read the letter by the Muslim scholars and Sunni authorities addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on the official website. It is 76 pages long.

And you can watch the full talk given by Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad in December called, "Countering Violent Extremism and Ideology" on C-SPAN's website.

To learn more about the letter, and see who signed it, read, "Muslim scholars present religious rebuttal to Islamic State" by Tom Heneghan, Reuters, September 25, 2014. An excerpt:

Over 120 Islamic scholars from around the world, many of them leading Muslim voices in their own countries, have issued an open letter denouncing Islamic State militants and refuting their religious arguments. 
The 126 signatories are all Sunni men from across the Muslim world, from Indonesia to Morocco and from other countries such as the United States, Britain, France and Belgium. Including Shi'ite or women signatories could have discredited the appeal in the eyes of the hardline Islamists it addresses. 
Amongst those who signed were the current and former grand muftis of Egypt, Shawqi Allam and Ali Gomaa, former Bosnian grand mufti Mustafa Ceric, the Nigerian Sultan of Sokoto Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar and Din Syamsuddin, head of the large Muhammadiyah organization in Indonesia.
It is very interesting that this important letter has not been given the attention it deserves, neither in the media of Arab and Muslim countries, nor in the Western media, especially in light of the recent tragic events in Paris. Some of the leading scholars who signed this letter should have joined the protests in Paris, raised their voices, and stood ahead of the publicity-seeking politicians who came from around the world. People, especially in the Muslim world, respect scholars and religious figures more than politicians and political leaders, so their words carry more weight. Instead, what France and the world got was a farce, with world leaders posing on an empty street for the global cameras