Source: The Malta Independent, December 10, 2014; by Laiq Ahmed Atif
A few months ago the world was not very much aware of a great threat, which the world is facing these days, and which has now become the talk of the town, and that is the horrific threat of ISIS. This is extremely alarming and a cause of major concern for the world because the agenda and objectives of ISIS and their so-called Caliph are utterly horrific and barbaric. The actions of this terrorist group are not only impacting Muslim countries, but also European countries are at the brink of risking their security. According to the British Home Secretary, the threat of ISIS is more dangerous than at any time before or since 9/11.
It is also a bitter reality that we see a disturbing number of Muslim youths from Europe and other parts of the world, who have somehow come to believe that ISIS represents a true picture of Islam and support their ideology. For these reasons they have resolved to help and to even fight for them. According to the official estimates, over 500 British citizens, mostly young Muslims, have already travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS, in a war that the terrorist group falsely claims is being fought in the name of Islam. The situation in Germany, France and Italy, among others, is no different, and it is escalating rapidly. The authorities are struggling to prevent young Muslims from joining the wars in Syria and Iraq and to find the reasons behind such an excessive move.
Prophet Muhammad, the Founder of Islam, through divine knowledge foresaw the conditions under which the Muslim world had to pass during different ages and particularly in the latter days, and he said: “There will come a time upon the people when nothing will remain of Islam except its name only and nothing will remain of the Quran except its inscription. Their mosques will be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance. Their clerics will be the worst people under the heaven and strife will issue from and avert to them.”
I believe that this prophecy sheds clear light, without any doubt, on the current state of affairs the world is passing through. Such Muslims who are wrongly using the name of religion for their vicious motives are not the true representatives of Islam. Secondly, the religious clerics have also deviated people from the right path and they have misinterpreted and misquoted the teachings of Islam for their personal interests and scopes, and thus have become the source of strife. One particular example of that is the blood-thirsty interpretation of “Jihad” and promoting the ‘culture of Jihad’ by such clerics. Lack of religious guidance and religious freedom, adoption of extremist ideologies and their dominance, preaching and practicing religion without reasoning and persuasion, incorrect usage of religion for the brainwashing, exploitation of peoples sentiments by playing with their ignorance and lack of knowledge, and neglecting the principle of the separation of religion and state are a few elements which are fueling such barbaric and perilous drives and moves.
Moreover, in contemporary circumstances, poverty, unemployment, lack of financial resources, increasing gap between rich and poor, suppression and social injustices, which finally are being translated into extreme frustration are also causes which motivate such youths to recruit themselves with ISIS. Furthermore, the spiritual and materialistic rewards being offered by ISIS are also attracting frustrated and unsatisfied people of the world.
Recently, I read a story of a young man who was very quiet and calm, but after losing his job and living in extreme hopefulness, finally he joined ISIS. When his father was asked the reason why his son recruited himself with ISIS, he replied because of ‘poverty’.
Here a question arises that how these groups are able to acquire such funds that allow them to continue their terrorist activities and warfare for so long? How do they acquire such sophisticated weapons? It is also common knowledge that they have huge funds totalling hundreds of millions of dollars and so it can only be assumed that they have external support. A senior representative of the United States Government has publicly stated that ISIS is “the best funded terrorist group we have ever confronted.”
The funding of these groups is a major problem because it is through these funds that they are able to prey on vulnerable groups or individuals. For example, in one recent report stated that if a family sends one of its members to join ISIS then that family is given thousands of dollars as an initial lump sum and then hundreds of dollars regularly thereafter.
I think to curb this fast increasing problem there is an urgent need for concrete steps to be taken to confront this terror. First and the foremost important point is to put an end to their funding or the funding of any other similar organisation. The promotion of tolerance, harmony and mutual respect are also crucial aspects; and religious freedom should be guaranteed to all across the board. Strict laws should be made for those who exploit ignorant people or use violence in the name of religion, and violation of human rights and social injustices should be addressed in urgency. Most importantly the world must realise that it has forgotten it’s Creator and they must come back to Him. Only when this happens can true peace be established and without this there can be no guarantee of peace.